Youth for Baltic Sea
Gdánsk | Our second stop of our Poland Tour was at Hotel Orle on Sobieszewo island just outside of Gdańsk. There, we joined the first Baltic Sea Youth Camp, a festival to increase youth participation in the Baltic Sea Region. This would now mark the second time, after our stop in Krzyżowa, where we would exclusively invite young people under our Dome. Our intern Helene Paul reports from the camp.
After a long and hot drive in our van without AC, we arrived at the hotel a day before the event. This way, we were able to relax a bit and find out where we could build the Dome, to be ready for the next morning. One of our first acts also had to be a walk to the sea, say hello to the waves and feel the sand between our toes. This is definitely also a highlight of traveling with the Dome, ending up in beautiful places. As we were still a bit exhausted from our drive, we made use of the free evening and went to bed quite early.
“We live in a digital era, but we don’t use our online communication to talk about the problems of the world. We show
The next morning then started with action, having to build up the Dome. We started on our own, just the two of us, until the first of the organizers of the event started to arrive and one of them was kind enough to help us with the rest of the build-up. Behind the hotel, the wooden structure slowly came together and made a good picture surrounded by trees. The goal was to have the Dome standing in time for the first arrivals of youth camp participants.
We met our personal deadline and welcomed them warmly. As they were all still rather tired from their travels and already had plans for the afternoon as part of the program, we mainly used that day to present our project and have a few short conversations about what we do and how they could participate during the next few days. The day then ended with getting to know some of the participants, further explanations of what we were doing at the camp and one or two beers in good company.
We had the next day off and used the time to catch up on a few reports of past stops with our Dome as well as prepare for the two more to come, Krakow and Berlin. We also kept in touch with a few of the camp participants throughout the day to find out about what they were working on and how they liked it. We also spent a bit of time by the Dome, to be ready if someone had questions.
The second day of the youth camp finally included us as a main program point and we were visited by a school class from the Gdańsk Ballet School who also came to present themselves to the youth camp. They were accompanied by two of their teachers who helped with translations when English became too complicated on some occasions during our talk. In the beginning they were still a little shy, not sure if what they thought would matter or was important enough. This deeply resonated with the main aim of the youth camp, enhancing young voices, but also with our general ambitions of hearing everyone’s opinions and enhancing citizens’ voices in general.
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It turned out to be a recurring theme, tying up with what students in Krzyżowa already said as well, that the younger people felt like their concerns weren’t valid and would not be listened to by politicians.
The main topics of the talk were sustainability, youth engagement and the role of culture. The students especially delved into the role of social media and how the digital era allows us to engage and share our lives online, but that we seem to be focusing on showing the pretty sides, instead of the challenges we currently face, especially in regard to environmental pollution. They further also mentioned innovative ways of battling plastic pollution, like through edible water pods.
As the participants of the Baltic Youth Camp were busy working on their declaration, we then took the time to leave the Dome and ask them for short statements about Europe. The interviewees touched upon climate change, youth involvement, European bureaucracy, trans-border cooperation, deforestation and many more topics.
After these interviews we gathered our things and started building down the Dome, to be ready to leave the next day to drive to Krakow. This time we had several helpers, even with musical backdrop, and were very speedy in dismantling. Just in time as well, right after we loaded the last ladder into the van, the first raindrops started to fall. We then took part in the evening activities and joined the small party they organized to let the day and our stay at the camp fade out nicely.
All in all, our stay in Gdańsk delivered a great impression on how young people are getting active to raise their voice to change the current political landscape. A longer stay made it possible for us to gain some insights into the youth camp as well as profit from not having to build up the Dome and dismantle it on the same day, that’s the real luxury. Finally, our talk, like the one in Krzyżowa, also presented us with the opportunity to improve our approach with a younger audience.