Globally Connected, in cooperation with the peacebuilding organization International Alert, conducted the “Active Voices” (Aswat Faeela) workshop in Amsterdam on the 8th of October 2016.
In light of the ongoing conflict in Syria and the high number of Syrians leaving the country because of it, it was necessary to start establishing a network that aims to support and build trust and understanding between the Syrian diaspora, host communities, and Syrians back in Syria.
This workshop brought together members of the Syrian diaspora in Europe as well as European citizens who are engaged with the Syrian conflict to explore how to strengthen networks and how to work together on issues of common concern.
During the workshop, we were able to explore how Globally Connected and Syria Platform for Peace can participate in “Active Voices”, an EC-funded project, led by the British Council, and implemented through international consortium partners. The project is a two years’ multi-country Syrian youth development project that aims to develop the role of young Syrian social leaders as positive agents of change through practical action both inside Syria, as well as in countries affected by the Syrian Crisis, and to give them a voice in national and international discourse about peace-building. The workshop was an opportunity to explore how International Alert, Globally Connected, and Syria Platform for Peace can support “Active Voices”.
In addition, participants discussed how to strengthen the network between Syrian diaspora, host communities, and Syrians in Syria more broadly. International Alert and Globally Connected explored the interests, perceptions, and possibilities of participating audience to engage in the “Active Voices” project.
One of the participants was the Photographer Edo Landwehr who thankfully volunteered and took photos of the workshop. Edo had some thoughts to share:
The “Active Voices” workshop was attended by Syrian participants living in various areas in Holland. I spoke to a teacher from Assen, a doctor from Groningen, and a mechanical engineer from Rotterdam. We started to introduce ourselves in three languages, however I was actually quite surprised to learn how good was their knowledge of the Dutch language.
They introduced themselves, where they came from, where they currently live, and shared their thoughts about their future. They discussed misconceptions, getting used to Holland, and what change they can bring together.
At one point, they were asked to do an exercise. The group held a rope and was instructed to form a square while having their eyes closed and were not allowed to speak. It was the exercise that had the most impact on me, as it changed my perspective and expectations within the ongoing workshop. Participants had this emotional thought to share afterwards: “While we felt restrained by a higher power, the most important thing is that we did not fall apart”.