First Online session on Euro Arab Youth Collaboration for Sustainability

See the session recording here: Getting to know the Earth Charter

Euro-Arab youth collaboration for more sustainable world, an online youth sustainability leadership course, takes place in June – July 2011. First session took place on Thursday 9th. Read participant’s experience of the first session.

Thank you very much Maria Sannino of Italy and Abir Cherif of Tunisia for writing these articles!

“My name is Maria and I am from Italy. As soon as I came to know about the online youth sustainability leadership course I enrolled hoping my application would be accepted.

It’s June 2nd, the deadline for applicants to be notified in case of being selected. I remember having checked my mailbox hundreds of times that day, but at the end of the day no communication had arrived yet. I wondered what went wrong, perhaps I had not used the right words, or had not expressed my motivations clearly enough. Perhaps, my enthusiasm and will were simply not enough.

I had lost all hopes to be in when, the following day, an e-mail finally told me I had been selected as well, among other participants!
I cannot express how happy I felt, yes, it meant a lot me…

So here I am, writing about the first session of the course held on June 9th. It was the first time for me, I had never been on a virtual classroom and must say, despite the technical problems we had with our internet connection, our lesson was truly stimulating and turned out to be a great moment for sharing.

We went through the Earth Charter principles and discussed of everyone’s favourite points of the document, then we watched a video about the history of the Earth Charter; participants from many countries of the world were attending the class: Palestine, Finland, Malta, Bahrain, Portugal, Syria, Iraq and many others. I am sure not to exaggerate when I say it was almost breathtaking to me to realize that people from different latitudes, speaking different languages, following different religions, in that very moment were all sharing one single belief, motivation and vision. We were all there and did not know each other and, still, we were acting together for a common cause. Once more I had a confirmation: there is no boundary if you truly want something, and we truly wanted to come together hoping to create a network, to learn something new from one another, and prove it is possible to dialogue despite distance and difference.

By the end of the two hours session my sensation was that people would have gone on for at least other two hours, talking, confronting each other, discussing. Everyone had something to say, everyone had an idea or opinion to share.

Collaboration was the word underneath it all.

I can say this experience gave me renewed motivation and strengthened my will to go on. Moments like that are examples of how good people can do together: we have a force which is that of determination to make a difference and only by cooperating we can really make a change. If we come together we can operate on governments and cooperate with them. But we ought to start from ourselves. We must act right to teach right. If we learn how to become positive examples, then we will inspire others to do so. And we cannot act alone: we are like drops, it takes many to create a storm!”

Abir Cherif of Tunisia writes:

“…Few seconds after reading about the youth sustainability leadership in my friend’s Facebook profile, I clicked on the link leading me to the Earth Charter website, read the vision, the application process, the Charter itself, and realized that I HAVE to enroll in the course, so I filled in the application, so sincerely, hoping  and expecting to be accepted.
…Few days after, on June 2nd, I was checking my mailbox hundreds of times, it was the announcement day! I was waiting, and waiting, and I was having exams, but no confirmation has arrived yet. I thought my expectations went wrong and felt disappointed… I almost lost every hope to be in, when finally at midnight, an e-mail coming from Jaana was telling me I’ve been selected among other participants from 32 countries!…I can’t express how happy I felt! Yeah! Being in the Earth Charter course meant a lot for me, and for my friends who had, and still have, confidence in me  …

Countdown started, I scrolled down and clicked on the online course button; the teacher’s face was the first to appear 😀 , the chat box next; participants from all over the world  were attending the class.

Our first task was about getting to know each other; Jaana, our teacher, was asking us to turn on cameras and to speak, the only language permitted was English, and hopefully, we all were active Anglophones and good speakers …Then, 5 questions were given to be accomplished in 15 minutes as the first group work:

  • How many females are attending the course?
  • How many males are attending the course?
  • How old is the oldest participant?
  • How old is the youngest participant?
  • From how many countries are the participants?

It wasn’t very hard to answer all these questions as we were a group and as some personal information was indicated up in the conference window… After discussing for few minutes, we came up with all required answers, and voted for a speaker… In spite of some missing/unsure information, we almost had the exact answers:

  • 11 females and 7 males, not including the teacher (those who attended were only 19)
  • The oldest was 33, and the youngest was 15
  • There were 14 countries, applications came from 32 countries

A smart question was asked; why was the number of females bigger than that of males?
We laughed a little while, then, Jaana answered it was because of the inequality of the gender in the earlier Earth Charter online courses – usually there are always more men than women! And it was a credible and smarter answer 😀 …

Next, we went through the presentation done by Jaana Laitinen, our tutor, turning around Donella Meadows and what a vision means… She asked us questions, and we typed her varied answers, translating our several ways of thinking, understanding and communicating one’s ideologies and thoughts…

Then, we went through the 48 slides’ presentation about the Earth Charter principles, realized them and discussed everyone’s favourite points of the document ending with a video about the history of this worldwide organization developing how and when it has started, and for what reason and above all, goals: To change one’s behaviour, heart, feelings and attitude towards the globe we live in and the people we’re living with! And to spray widely the culture of peace, democracy and justice! The Earth Charter is given to people, to stop waiting for the governments to act, and even to aware these of the importance of keeping the Earth peaceful and, green!

… This online, and meant to be online, experience, to make the GOOD use of technology and cyber world, gave us motivation for action…
As “to make the change, we have to be the change we’re seeking for”, change the way we think and the way we deal with our planet and the very different peoples living and surviving in. If we learn how to be positive agents, the whole world will be inspired.

All what we learned, and are still learning is hugely touching! Wanna be an effective agent of positive change? Realize our Charter and YOU will be the change.”

Abir Sherif, 15 years