Ukrainian Youth on the Path to International Leadership: An Amazing Trip to Germany

As part of strengthening international ties and developing youth diplomacy, representatives of youth organisations from the Odessa region visited Germany for the Youth Work Summit held in Heidelberg. This trip marked an important step in supporting and developing cooperation between the twin cities of Odessa and Heidelberg.

The delegation was led by Yulia Kotelnikova, the coordinator of the delegation and the head of the NGO “Center for Democratic Development of Youth "Synergy". The delegation also included Hanna Verbytska from the NGO "Surdo School", Anna Chumak, representative of AIESEC in Odessa, and Anastasia Salamatina from the NGO “YMCA Odessa”.

The first day of the program started with a visit to the Youth Council of the City of Heidelberg (Stadtjugendring Heidelberg), where the participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the work format of this organization. Later, the delegation visited "Community arts" at Karlstorbahnhof Heidelberg, where they got acquainted with projects in the field of public art.

A significant meeting with Jasper Schmidt, an expert in youth participation, discussed ways to engage youth in the voluntary sector. This was followed by a meeting with the Mayor of Heidelberg, Eckhart Würzner, at the city hall, which was key for discussing cooperation opportunities between cities.

There was also a meeting with Heike Abendroth from the DLRG Jugend, where methods of working with youth of different ages were discussed. The evening of the first day was dedicated to communicating with representatives of youth organisations, particularly with Svitlana from THW Jugend and Dana Kovalchuk from "Plast Germany".

The second day of the program was dedicated to a visit to the Youth Center "Haus der Jugend" in Heidelberg, where director Jürgen Schroepfer conducted a tour of the center. There was also a meeting with expert Silvia Shryor, the organizer of "Literary Scouts", where the possibilities of literary initiatives were discussed.

The third day ended with a joint dinner with the youth political wings of local parties. Here, the participants had the opportunity to learn more about the political participation of young people in Germany, to discuss the issues of youth leadership and the importance of political education. A working meeting with Steffen Werner, head of the Youth Council of the city of Heidelberg, was held to discuss future projects and initiatives for the Odesa region. The day ended with a city tour, during which the participants got acquainted with the historical and cultural sights of Heidelberg.

Conclusion: The educational trip of the Ukrainian delegation to Germany opened up new perspectives for international youth cooperation. Meetings with leading specialists, exchange of experience and establishment of contacts in the field of youth work indicate the great potential of joint initiatives and projects. The participants returned with new ideas and enthusiasm for developing their organizations and supporting youth in Ukraine. The signing of the Letter of Intent is planned, which will play a key role in further cooperation between the cities. Such events emphasize the importance of international dialogue and joint efforts in the direction of youth support and development. We invite everyone to actively participate and get involved in these landmark initiatives that shape the future of our youth and the country.

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