Between July 4-6, 2023, the Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi) organized the Youth Summer Academy in Chisinau, with the participation of more than 70 people (youth specialists, local councilors, young leaders), of which 55 were young people from 25 rural communities, aged 18-35.
The topics covered at the Youth Summer Academy focused on the sustainability of initiative groups in project communities, empowering local leaders, developing youth impact policies, and youth plans for the summer.
Representatives of central and local authorities, present at the event, came with several messages of greeting and encouragement to young people.
“During our lives we learn many lessons. Learning a lesson means being able to put things into practice to ensure your own performance, to make your world and the world around you more beautiful. You, young people, are the power and the engine that can move the world, but for that you need to act. I encourage you during the Summer Academy to create a vision for your personal future, for the future of your community and learn how to act…” – Mrs. Valentina Chicu, Advisor to the President of the Republic of Moldova in the field of education and research
“There are very few organizations in the Republic of Moldova that have as their target to work with rural communities, because working in rural communities is the biggest challenge and you took on this challenge. One of the most important things is to reach out to young people who are less active, with fewer opportunities, and during the Academy sessions, I wish you to learn peer-to-peer and when you go to your communities to create models and inspire other young people.” – Mr. Ion Donea, Director of the National Agency for the Development of Youth Programs and Activities
“A big respect for young people from rural areas. I know that it is harder for you to get informed, to get involved, to apply for projects, to have interesting activities at local level. I encourage you to stay active until you leave the community, and then to invest back in the community you left.” – Tatiana Seredenco, Vice-President of Cahul district
For 2.5 days the Academy participants worked in groups and interactively, learning and deepening knowledge in the sustainability of the initiative groups in 30 rural communities. The knowledge gained would enable young people to continue their work in the initiative groups in a more independent way. The young people also had the opportunity to socialize and make friends from other communities participating in the Academy.
The 2 invited trainers from Romania, Ioana Serban, founder of Rise and Shine Youth Association, and Victor Catalin Toma, president of the Active Development Association, coordinator of the European Youth Village program, told the young participants about impactful tools for empowering rural youth and about sustainable models of community organizing and self-governance of young people in Romania, USA and other countries.
The closing session of the Youth Summer Academy was attended by the Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Moldova, H.S. Kent D. Logsdon. Within the discussion space, the Ambassador highlighted the importance of civic involvement of young people, the priority of youth policies in rural areas and support for European vectors and opportunities. Mr. Logsdon also handed out graduation certificates to the participants and wished the young people success in their work.
Back in their communities, the young participants will organize meetings with other members of the initiative group to share their experience from the Youth Summer Academy and initiate discussions with local elected representatives on the youth budget for the year 2024.
The YEP program has been implemented in Moldova since 2020, involving annually 1000 young people from 30 rural communities. The activity is part of the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) implemented by iRi in partnership with GLCAP, USA Ohio with the support of the US Department of State.