„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


21st April 2017

30 young people representing 16 European countries started their journey within Roots for Reconciliation Project Peace Work Institute Session 1 on April 3rd, 2017 in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The Peace Work Institute (PWI) is one of the key components of YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation (RfR) programme in 2016-2019, with the aim to empower youth opinion leaders in acting for change in their sending organizations and respective communities as multipliers of peace culture and movement.

It was Session 1, but has been done before... PWI scheme was the core component of RfR 2012-2015 and based on evaluation from beneficiaries, it turned out to be the best evaluated component of the project.

Peace Work Institute Planning Team: Rachel Dyne, Ivana Ilic, Vardan Hambardzumyan, Rezi Shavladze, Marius Pop

And being a successor of something that made waves is not easy... Put in a spotlight, with expectations set much higher & little margin for errors and experiments - in other words, big pressure!
Then come the participants - from Albania, Scotland, Armenia, Turkey, Georgia, Germany, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Croatia, Russia, Serbia, Portugal, Ukraine... Not the usual group one works on daily basis in local organization, is it?! But then who said Peace Work is supposed to be easy?!

The participants continued the YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation legacy of sharing cups of tea. Historically the YMCA provided tea to the serving troops during the World wars and the activity has also become a regular feature during the Peace Work Institute sessions.

Well, it actually can be when you have the right people involved... And the participants of Tbilisi PWI did their best to demonstrate it - immediate bonding, ever-growing cooperation & due delivery of respective tasks were the highlights of the event. Especially to underline those that came from non-YMCA backgrounds and nevertheless, instantly adapted to the process.

The relevant content of the event perhaps has its own share of overall success - sessions on Peace Legacy & Theories of Change in Peace Work, Critical Thinking, Media Awareness, Unpacking Conflicts, Digital Activism, Peace Practices... These are the topics that affect young people across the continent nowadays...


And, of course, the location of the event - multicultural Tbilisi with Churches, synagogue and mosque standing side by side... The great example that peace and coexistence is truly possible. It is the only way, in fact...

Next stop - PWI Session 2 in Berlin!

Full photo albume in high definition.

Peace Work Institute - Session I

Author/Source: Rezi Shavladze, YMCA Europe Project Assitant