News from YIP - April 2020
The International Youth Initiative Program
N e w s  f r o m  Y I P
April 2020
Picture by Maaike Verbanck
Dear friends of YIP,
Cheerful Thursday. In these interesting and shifting times, I am writing to you from Ytterjärna, where the YIP community has settled again after the Outpost in Scotland and the International Internships. Nature and the land around us are slowly transitioning into spring season, wavering between chilly early spring days and sunlit blue skies. I am excited for the abundance of tulips, little flowers and greens that are ready to sprout, for the life and joy of this blossoming season to embrace us. 
In these uncertain times, I find myself pondering on how the life force of this season relates to the situation we find ourselves in globally. I look around in the world and think: are we asking ourselves, each other, our society, our earth, enough questions? In the beginning of March, more than 300 people joined the Online Initiative Forum to explore questions such as 'How can we reimagine our role in the world?', 'How has our current definition of growth brought us to this planetary crisis?', 'How can we become active in growing together?'. These questions seem especially relevant now.
In YIP, we are balancing our desire to pause and face the current situation while at the same time design for life and for the future. At the moment we are planning on going ahead with YIP 13 while remaining sensitive to the global realities. We hope you are healthy across the world and practicing resilience and solidarity. Sending love to you and all the communities around you.
written by Mien Stoffels 
In this newsletter you will find:
- Reflections on the International Internships in SEKEM (Egypt), Favela da Paz (Brazil), MISSION (the Philippines), Red Clay Arts (Canada) and Kufunda Learning Village (Zimbabwe)
- Arriving in Sweden again written by Lynette van Pelt
- Initiative Forum: Redefining Growth, an interview with Lina Ashour and Johanna von Hunerbein
- Participating at the Online Initiative Forum written by Camilla Schütt
- Transitioning to the Self-Designed Curriculum written by Lynette van Pelt
- Apply for YIP13!
- YIP Alumni: Join the Online Open Space
- Become a YIP Ambassador
Reflections on the International Internships
SEKEM (Egypt)
Picture by Chi-Fang Wu
From paradise to garbage dump, from the silence of Mother Earth to the chaos of downtown Cairo. In one month we saw many different sides of this country in northern Africa: Egypt.
Our internship showed us what can happen when one single human being has a vision and believes in it. In 1977, Ibrahim Abouleish, originally from Egypt, returned to his motherland after twenty years of studying in Europe. Being a very capable and wise man, he gathered inspiration from philosophers like Goethe and Schiller, and he was inspired by anthroposophy. He decided to give up his career to bring an impulse to his home country, a country that had drastically changed during the time he was away. He started by digging a well in vast desert land. SEKEM was born: an NGO for sustainable development where every human being can unfold their individual potential. More than 2000 people find work here in different areas, like working on the land or in the different factories. SEKEM has its own Waldorf School and university, and a community of residents and interns.
Driving through Egypt by car was an experience for me, everything around me was different than I am used to: the sand, the palmtrees, the chaotic way of driving (the Egyptians are very good drivers, they are aware of the cars around them, rather than of traffic signs, for they don’t really exist). What struck me was the garbage everywhere, plants and trees being covered by plastic bags, dumps in the middle of a village, the shores of the Nile covered by plastic bottles.
How different it felt to enter SEKEM: all of a sudden the landscape changed into a green area, with a palm tree forest, herbs, fields and plants, flowers and animals, and many lovely people. Feeling and seeing this, we could guess that life in SEKEM would be very unique, and probably very different from life in the rest of Egypt.
During our time in Egypt, we collaborated with Nana Woo, a social eurythmist and a very inspiring host. We participated in the Core Program, which provides art for all workers and students of SEKEM Farm and Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development, its own university. We attended courses such as eurythmy, fine arts, singing, acting and crafting. We were also given the opportunity to facilitate the movement Core Program ourselves, with the cleaning staff at Heliopolis University, and the workers from El-Mizan (a greenery company) and El-Wahat (a second location of SEKEM in a remote area in the middle of Egypt).
We are very inspired by the vision of Ibrahim Abouleish that art should be a part of every day life, also after finishing primary or high school. For this reason, all workers of SEKEM have the opportunity to partake in the Core Program. The aim of the Core Program is "to unfold the individual potential of every human being through art". We worked with the question: How can art help people to connect with others and themselves, and to unfold their individual potential? This question is still alive in us. As a group of four, we discovered how to use the creative tools that we learned before (singing, playing guitar, violin and mandolin, movement, playing games, drawing and painting) in our sessions with the people of SEKEM, to get a bit closer to this higher goal of our work.
From designing the sessions to the actual facilitation, we learned to observe the reactions of people to see what exercises were suitable, and to try and find different ways that made it easier to connect with the exercises. At the same time, we learned from them: how easy it can be to help each other, and to learn together with a lot of joy and playfulness.
We were working on creating a tangible outcome for this internship: a booklet about the Core Program. This gave us a chance to dive into the Core Program itself, to learn more about its history, its original vision and structure. But most importantly, we interviewed different participants and facilitators of the Core Program. We intended to collect honest feedback and hopefully a true response of what it is to take part in the experience of the Core Program, and how it could be improved. This was truly beautiful: the people we interviewed showed us how SEKEM changed their lives, how it is a unique place, different from anything else they know in Egypt.
These are some of the quotes we gathered from our interviews:
“Art gives me power to work” - Ibrahim
“I get to know my colleagues in a different way” - Mohamed
“I believe art can change the entire life of these people” - Hameda
“We cannot live without art” - Omar
“Eyes show that there are no lies” - Dalia
“This place is like my family, it is good” - Achmed
The interviews made us realise what the value is of doing creative work. It also surprised us what an important the role the arts have in people’s lives, both on a personal and a professional level. Although there is still room for the Core Program to grow, it seems it has already changed people’s daily life in immense ways, and that is part of what makes SEKEM really unique.
Written by Hedwig Barczuk and Chi-Fang Wu
Favela da Paz (Brazil)
 Drawing by Lottie de Jong
During their internship, Lottie, Michael, Steffi and Johanna kept a visual diary. Get a glimpse of their journey working with Favela da Paz in São Paolo and their time in the Amazon, through the button below. Enjoy!  
MISSION (The Philippines)
In the Philippines, we could choose between two topics to work with during our Internship: Governance and Social Enterprises. Chiara and me chose Governance, and for three weeks we were part of designing and running a 4H Club campaign.
The 4H club is aimed at engaging youth in agriculture. Agriculture is the main export product of the Philippines and just like in a lot of other places in the world, young people in the Philippines are less and less willing to pursue a career in this field. In three weeks we visited twenty high schools where we gave presentations and hosted excersises to promote the 4H Club.
It was an incredible way to travel through the hinterlands of Bayawan and to meet and visit people and places we would otherwise never have seen. On top of that, a great way to put our learned hosting and facilitating skills in practice.
During the last week of our Internship, we were part of meetings to discuss the future of the 4H Club and we created a promo video for the organisers to engage policy makers into their initiative. You can watch our video here!
Written by Esmée Begemann 
The Pedicab's Tassel - A short story
Picture by Chiara Tonndorf
Looking back on her Internship in the Philippines, Leila has written a beautiful short story full of imagination about the adventures of a pedicab's tassel. You can read the first chapter here ... click on the link for the full story!
Red Clay Arts (Canada)
Red Clay feels like,
Coming in from the snow to be greeted by whiskey sours and concrete poetry
Reading Kate Tempest in a lukewarm attic bathtub while experimental bebop synth music travels through the floorboards below you
Operating a power drill and putting up planting shelves in a flowy, fairy hippy skirt
Woodchopping — lots of it
Encountering an abandoned bonfire in the woods surrounded by fire fairies
The smell of freshly ground coffee and Forest Harmony Weleda shower gel and Bengal Spice tea
Not knowing which way is sky and which way is snow
Impromptu line-running from a book of short play scenes
Lying on your own in a sauna listening to the howling of a nearby pack of coyotes
Building a makeshift chicken coop in a greenhouse during a hail-snow-rainstorm
Playing Fold-overs while drinking homemade honey mead and listening to Bon Iver
Climbing up a sheer cliff-face comprised entirely of molten clay
Midnight mead-fuelled missions to set an eight-metre tall tree on fire
Curling up on a red sofa with Sly the Cat and Tennessee Williams
Writing — writing, writing, writing
Thrift-shopping for a white-tie gallery exhibition in Frenchy's while “Fake Plastic Trees” plays
Tidewalks with Potato the Dog (objectively, the best dog)
Playing Saturday morning dress-up in sparkly spandex and leopard print
Learning how to use an electric power saw as the first moss peaks out of melting March snow and the thawing river trickles past behind you
The song “Slippery People” by The Talking Heads, played over and over and over.
Written by Ruby McGowan 
Creative Harvest by Iduna Snip
Kufunda Learning Village (Zimbabwe)
Picture by Janne Bierens
Our Internship in 'The House of Stones'
“Mangwanani! Mamuka sei?”
“Mangwanani! Tamuka mamukawo!”
For those of you who don’t speak Shona (one of the many languages spoken in Zimbabwe), this is the morning greeting. It means:
“Good morning! How did you wake?”
“Good morning! I woke well if you woke well!”
We (Saci, Ami and Janne) travelled to Kufunda Learning Village in Zimbabwe for our International Internship. Zimbabwean people affectionately call their land ‘The House of Stones’, because of the mysterious round, earthy coloured rocks that are scattered across the country. No one seems to know the story of these big stones, and it seems they prefer it this way. The mystery leaves space for imagination and exciting stories.
Kufunda Learning Village was founded by Maaianne Knuth in 2002. Maaianne grew up in Denmark and Zimbabwe and saw a lot of wisdom and capacity in the rural communities of Zimbabwe. Yet, she realised that these qualities were never acknowledged because of Zimbabwe's British colonial history. She wanted to create a space for people to rediscover these gifts. Kufunda Learning Village is now a home for over seventeen families, where people gather to live and learn together to explore their passions and cultivate their untapped gifts.
For a month we had the opportunity to live and learn with them. And what a learning it has been! Being in a country where a lot of facilities for basic needs can’t be taken for granted and the unemployment rate has grown over 90% has been hard to process. How is it possible that the world is so far away from a fair and healthy balance? How is it possible that the country you were born in defines the privileges you carry or not carry in so many ways? How do we as citizens from ‘the West’ relate to our colonial history and the impact it has on the world today?
These were some of the questions that we held (and still hold) during our time at Kufunda Learning Village. But our learning grew further than these realisations. We got to experience the spirit of this unique village in Zimbabwe: a spirit of learning together. From learning in the biodynamic Ggrden to participating in and co-hosting workshops for young women, from supporting the promotion of Kufunda on social media to working together with the teachers in the Waldorf inspired village school.
The morning greeting characterises our experience at Kufunda Learning Village and holds an important learning for us. We wonder how our society would look like if our personal wellbeing was based on the others wellbeing.
So, how did you wake?
P.S. Here is a video we made of our adventures in Zimbabwe!
Written by Janne Bierens, Saci Reilly-Jasper and Ami Cochrane
Arriving in Sweden again
Picture by Chi-Fang Wu
Arriving in Ytterjärna
For days Egypt had been rain, rain, rain. The community of SEKEM was working in dealing with the water that was everywhere, had to go somewhere, and kept on falling from the sky.
During this time of rain, it became more and more clear that the coronavirus was becoming a global crisis and borders were closing. We had to leave, and let go. We sat in the room together with our host Nana, candle light in the middle, closing our time together. Acknowledging what we had learned together and individually, appreciating SEKEM and Nana hosting us.
It was in the middle of the night in Egypt, that we booked a flight that we would attend a few hours later, back to Sweden. We sat together in a room, outside the rain had stopped. The few people that we could say goodbye to, joined the circle in our room. The situation felt surreal, drastic. We had each other, we would be together.
In the early hours we sat in the car, pitch black with the sound of morning prayer through the speakers of the car. The rising sun was lighting up the water pools on the road, that reflected the last images of Egypt.
With this unique situation all the internships had to find their way to the homebase, Ytterjärna. We became the whole YIP12 community again. The conversations were full of hand gestures, cheerful sounds and profound vibrations. We took our time to form our new whole and experience all these lively changes, listen to stories, learnings and new ideas.
Written by Lynette van Pelt
Initiative Forum: Redefining Growth
Photo by Mien Stoffels
"We were at the core of what it actually means to take initiative.”
Lina and Johanna are introducing a new and exciting element in YIP’s newsletter: a live interview!
Listen to them discussing what they learned, discovered and enjoyed in organizing this year’s Initiative Forum!
Created by Lina Ashour and Johanna von Hunerbein
Participating at the Online Initiative Forum 
Picture by Mien Stoffels
Thursday morning, 9th of April.
I’m nervous, it feels like my body is tingling. A few more minutes until Initiative Forum 2020 starts. I’m excited for how this forum will take shape online and how conversations will feel like when I just connect through the screen of my computer.
Most of my fears turn out to be unnecessary, as I enter my Check-In Group after the opening of the Forum. It's about getting present for the day and connecting to two other people with who I’m kind of going to spend my day together. Even though the people are still strangers to me, I’m able to listen and share openly. I think this will be my favorite part of the day for the coming days.

At that moment, I don’t know yet how many more nice moments there are to come. For example the lecture with Rob Hopkins on the power of imagination, that I participated at with my sister and my mum - who I convinced to join last minute, enabling me to talk and exchange our thoughts about it later. Or Tell-a-Vision, a storytelling workshop in which I’m diving into dreaming visions for the future. Or the Zoom calls in break times reconnecting to the Yippies form my year. Or listening in to the nice Smooth Radio on the first night while preparing dinner. I could go on with this list for a while.
What is more important to say is that Initiative Forum allowed things to move for me. I got inspired by the conversations I had, by the lectures I listened to and the practices I picked up again in this time. Some questions that rose in my mind are accompanying me still.

I’m glad that the Forum took place, even in this online format that I didn't know very well. It showed me the limits of this format, which are definitely there, but more importantly how much is actually possible, how diverse and interactive online spaces can be.
Thank you for this experience!
Written by Camilla Schütt (YIP11)
Transitioning to the Self-Designed Curriculum 
Picture by Maaike Verbanck
A field of green on the hillside.
Whilst the earth is absorbing all energy from the sun, through the veins of this element energy is popping up leafy life at the ends of its solid existence. Showing knots, pondering on how and when to pop out. Soon they'll be smiley faces colouring the landscape different shades of green.
That’s how this transition feels like to me. Over the past months, we’ve shared the same source of energy together. Now it is time for us to unfold its growth in the unique beings that we are.
Like bees in a field of flowers, flying from flower to flower, juicy majestic flowers, nourishing the landscape. Spring is awakening at the ends of the outer earth, and so are we.
For the next few weeks, there will be Personal Initiatives shared amongst each other. We get to see from each other what causes our hearts to beat to strongly. I hope it will enrich our image of each other and the universe around us.
Written by Lynette van Pelt 

Apply for YIP13!
Picture by Roos Buskes
Are you between 18 and 28 years old and wonder:
> What opportunities and challenges does humanity face as part of this interconnected world?
> Where do I begin if I want to become actively engaged in manifesting positive change in the world?
> What sustainable lifestyles and initiatives bring me into equitable relationships?
> How can we work together across differences on the complex realities of today's shifting world?
Join up to 40 international participants in working with these questions, and many more.
You can find all information about the application process on our website. We are looking forward to meeting you!
We feel it’s important to acknowledge that in YIP, we are balancing our desire to pause and face the current situation while at the same time design for life and for the future. At the moment we are planning on going ahead with YIP 13 while remaining sensitive to the global realities. If you consider applying to YIP and you have questions about this, please feel free to reach out to
YIP Alumni: Join the Online Open Space
Drawing by Lottie de Jong
Dear Alumni & friends - this is a message for you!
Do you have the feeling you could use some space to dream and scaffold your projects and plans for the future?
Would you like to meet with others who have fresh personal dreams and projects, practice participatory culture, can listen generatively and are eager and willing to be your allies?
Join the third Alumni Open Space!
Friday May 1st, 8pm CET
Inspired by the Online Alumni Meeting during Initiative Forum, a couple of alumni started to organise a weekly online Open Space through Zoom. It’s a recurrent meeting space to build mutually beneficial relationships by sharing our knowledge within our network to nurture, test and grow our dreams.
More information can be found in the Telegram Group (YIP Cross Generations - contact someone from your year to be added!), the YIP Participants & Alumni Facebook group or on this Facebook-event.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have, whoever comes are the right people!
Become a YIP Ambassador
> Do you know of an organization working with young people who wish to bring positive change into the world?
> Are you organizing an (online) event or conference for young adults who are looking to broaden their horizons?
> Does your sister/neighbour/coworker/… have children who are looking to expand their knowledge and skills in collaborating with groups of people to bring positivity into your local community?
> Are you currently studying and seeing an opportunity to share your experience at YIP in your university, student group or alumni network?
> Do you enjoy being active on social media?
Join us in finding the 40 participants of YIP13!
In our last newsletter, we invited you to join us in spreading the word about YIP by becoming a YIP Ambassador. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who responded to our call.
We want to continue to make YIP more accessible to people across the world, and to reach people across the world, we need to join forces.
There are three ways in which you can help young people find YIP:
1. Become a YIP Ambassador and actively engage with the people around you
What is YIP? Who is it for? What is the experience like? What do I gain from attending YIP?
We have created a set of materials that tell the story of YIP. This set will help you to introduce YIP to those interested, to host a ‘Get to know YIP’-conversation, or to print and spread in your local community. You can e-mail and we will send you a pdf package of materials.
2. If you are connected to networks that work with or reach young adults, and would like to spread the word, please feel free to reach out and let us know. We would love to hear suggestions of more people, places, and organizations.
3. If you are active on social media, stay tuned by following our account on Facebook and Instagram. We’re sharing about the ethos and principles behind YIP, the Personal Initiatives of the Yippies, the Self-Designed Curriculum and much more. If something we share particularly resonates with you, we’re excited to be in conversation in the comment section, and would love to see our message spreading through your account as well.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are looking forward to welcoming a diverse group of young, active, curious people in YIP13!
Looking forward
In the next newsletter you can expect to read more about:
- YIP12's Personal Initiatives
- Personal Initiative Presentations
- YIP13 Curriculum Update
- ... and much more!
Kulturcentrum Järna 13
15391 Järna
+46 73 097 36 37
© 2020 The International Youth Initiative Program
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