Reinventing Herself: Our Y4G Fellow’s Boot Camp Odyssey

Reinventing Herself: Our Youth for Governance Fellow’s Boot Camp Odyssey

Reinventing Herself: Our Y4G Fellow’s Boot Camp Odyssey

“It’s a chapter of my life I couldn’t have foreseen as a university student, yet it left an indelible mark on my heart. Amidst the doubts and fueled by unwavering perseverance, I was a proud representative of India in the enchanting town of Pollica, Italy, from 3rd to 9th September 2023 where an incredible experience unfolded during the Youth Boot Camp. The boot camp was hosted by UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities- ICCAR, with the support of UNAR.

The Youth Boot Camp for Inclusive and Sustainable Cities 2023 aimed to equip young people from 14 different countries with the knowledge and skills to become champions in combating racism and discrimination within their communities. During this intensive five-day Boot Camp, experts and policymakers from various parts of the world delivered thematic lectures, and young participants from around the globe were engaged in a dynamic and action-oriented dialogue to deconstruct racism and discrimination.

During one of our sessions, we came across Alma, a young lady who was once a victim of discrimination for being Roma or Gipsy (a member of an ethnic group that traditionally travels and lives), this ethnic group originally came from Northern India, who now live mostly in Europe. She shared the tough battles and unpleasant experiences that she had since her childhood as a member of this traditionally nomadic group. But Alma didn’t let that define her, she turned it into a personal mission. Now, she’s not only forged her own identity but also built a global platform.

 The Boot Camp also had interactive outdoor workshops and training sessions which emphasised the importance of networking, in a world where we have shared challenges collective efforts are needed for innovative solutions.    

The unique approaches through which we understood the significance and importance of combating racism and discrimination, while “Thinking Globally, and Acting Locally” were truly enlightening.

This experience brought together ambitious and innovative young minds who were given a platform to connect, learn, and share their views, and also create a bond that will last a lifetime!

Way forward with Y4G and GRAAM: Alma’s story is just one of many untold tales that linger in our society. Her story stands as a testament to resilience. The Boot Camp experience has left me with the idea of making our cities more equitable and hospitable wherein we can empower young minds to be catalysts for change. The project is designed from the essence of the boot camp where youth from diverse cities, cultures and ethnic backgrounds unite.

Mentorship and Skills Development: They’re given a platform to voice the challenges they encounter within their urban landscapes through an action-oriented dialogue session following innovative advocacy sessions and empower them to be the representatives of their communities by developing solutions and recommendations for paving the way for the betterment of the Nation.

Youth-Designed Public Spaces: This would involve youth in the designing and revitalisation of the public spaces to ensure they cater to the needs and preferences of diverse communities.

By embracing these innovative approaches, we’re not just addressing crucial urban issues; we are fostering a dynamic medium that brings youth together. It would be a platform where they can connect, share, and most importantly, work together to craft cities that embrace every citizen, making inclusivity the heartbeat of urban life.

A nation that harnesses its diversity as a source of strength will enjoy lasting success and peace.

I would extend my heartfelt gratitude to both the Grassroot Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM) and JSS Academy of Higher Education, School of Public Health, for their invaluable support and the incredible opportunity that has been extended to me was truly remarkable.”

-Dhanalaxmi Gowda, Youth for Governance Fellow, GRAAM

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