How can we tackle social issues in our local communities? This was one of the main topics of the training course “Changing Realities” which took place from 1-9 February in Slavonski Brod, Croatia. Young peacebuilders representing 13 organizations from different European countries came together to learn about the potential of non-formal education as a tool for social transformation.

During seven work days we explored the concept of change, reflected on different types of learning, and developed competences to plan and facilitate non-formal education activities in the youth work setting. We learnt that in order to transform social issues or conflicts, it is important to focus on the roots of the problems and to implement activities that address these roots. With practical sessions on communication techniques, group dynamics, methods and project planning we got prepared to finally develop small workshops on our own. We experienced non-formal education as a powerful tool to work on topics such as hate speech, cultural stereotypes or inequality.

The course was the start of a larger European-wide project called “Peacebuilding framework competence in youth work and non-formal education in Europe”, organized by the Educational center Krusevac (Serbia) in partnership with the FCV and 11 other organizations. The project’s aim is to empower and equip youth workers with competences in peacebuilding education and non-formal learning. There will be two further workshops: “Yellow brick road” – Peacebuilding in youth work (11-20 April, Bosnia Herzegovina) and “Action Lab” – Creativity and innovation in peacebuilding (middle of May, Serbia).

After each course, participants are encouraged to organize follow-up activities in their local communities to pass on what they have learnt. In June, there will be a European wide “Action Week” organized in all 13 participating countries and cities. The final activity will be a large scale European youth event in Serbia in September, where participants will come together again and reflect on the whole process. Furthermore, there is a video documentation and a radio programme about the project. All information, as well as tools and methods for non-formal education can be found on the web platform.