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Event report

„Go and create partnerships!“

Network meeting in Potsdam (14-18 November 2018)


How to develop good and stable partnerships for youth exchanges that transcend continental borders? This question was explored at the second BKJ network meeting ‘ global’ in Potsdam by 16 global tandem partnerships in mid-November 2018.

by Volkmar Liebig

Porträt von Volkmar Liebig

Volkmar Liebig heads the BKJ's project “global”. He studied Latin American studies and geography and previously worked at the Goethe-Institut Mexico, among other things as coordinator of the cultural programmes in Central America and the Caribbean.

The participants of the network meetings broke new ground in two respects. On the one hand, the meeting gave the driving forces behind the youth exchanges between German and countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America a first chance to share ideas with their relevant partners in person and plan their weltwärts exchanges together. On the other hand, the network meeting offered an opportunity, especially for many Tanzanian participants, to travel to Germany for the first time and gain an impression of the local situation.

Pilot country Tanzania

The new dynamic in the exchanges between organisations from Germany and Tanzania has not sprung from nowhere. Tanzania is one of the three pilot countries involved in the African-German Youth Initiative launched by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in 2016 and coordinated by Engagement Global. One of its aims is to increase the number of youth exchanges between the countries involved through funds such as weltwärts exchanges or the ENSA school exchange programme. With a total of nine cooperation partnerships established in the course of this year, the practitioners from Tanzania and Germany made up just over half of the participants.

The importance of the African-German Youth Initiative and of the cooperation between the two countries was also underlined by the Tanzanian ambassador Dr Abdallah Saleh Possi, who opened the meeting. It was important to forge new partnerships and invest energy in maintaining them even in the face of resistance. ‘Create partnerships!’ was his central message.

How do fair partnerships work?

The question of how to develop good partnerships was explored from very different angles during the five-day meeting in Potsdam. The partnerships from North and South took this opportunity to continue working on their jointly planned youth exchanges within the framework of the weltwärts fund while at the same time discussing the term ‘partnership’ itself. The main question was how partnerships could be made to work as fairly as possible despite inequalities, prejudices and an imbalance of power. The most important outcome of the discussions was that global partnerships offer plenty of opportunities not despite but precisely because of these disparities and that there was awareness of this issue, that it was addressed openly and transparently and regularly reviewed together.

Methods that can be transferred to working with young people

The participants also benefitted from the opportunity to network and share ideas with organisers of other exchange projects. Among the organisations attending the conference were the Wachata graffiti project from Dar es Salam, which wanted to organise an exchange together with the Berlin hip hop and street art association Berlin Massive, and the Dhow Countries Music Academy from Stone Town, Zanzibar, which was aiming to work together with Jeunesses Musicales Germany and the Music School in Hanover. Alongside these partners, representatives from youth theatres, circus groups and film and dance projects from Germany, Tanzania, Benin, South Africa, Cameroon, Nicaragua and Ghana also took part in the meeting. The dialogue between these very different participants was the main source of new perspectives and insights. Contributing to this were the joint discussions about sensitive issues, such as global inequalities, and the daily language animation. The methods used here were met with great interest because they can also be applied to youth work. Outside the network meeting, the partners from the Global South were given the opportunity to visit their respective German partner organisations to have a look at their practical work.

The participants used the network meeting to really get to know each other and broaden their perspectives.

‘It was just the right time for us to look at the SDGs in more detail. The event helped us make great progress with our plans.’

A participant

On this basis, it was now up to the partners to apply their findings to weltwärts exchanges: ‘Go and create partnerships!’


BKJ: „Go and create partnerships!“
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