Through my work as a TuWezeshe Fellowship Mentor I was invited to Yo!Fest, the annual youth political festival, held in Strassburg and organized by the European Youth Forum. The Festival combines debates, workshops, talks, exhibitions and performances to celebrate and promote both European and global citizenry through civic action.
I went to Yo!Fest knowing next to no one and left with what felt like a family bonded by a common cause; advocacy for a more equitable and inclusive Europe.
One of the most poignant moments for me was the Privilege Walk. Through this exercise participants were shown a physical representation of “privilege” through lining up in order of the invisible and unearned social advantages granted to them. To see ALL of the people of color at the end of the line, regardless of education and/or socioeconomic status, was a wakeup call, not only for those at the end of the line but more importantly for those at the front.
To have had the chance to engage in thoughtful conversations with people I otherwise wouldn’t have, was in and of itself such a privilege. It was so enriching to see the future leaders of tomorrow so impassioned to make the world a better place – more than 8000 to be exact! Even more than the workshops, I was inspired by the one to one conversations that I had with other young people about their dreams, aspirations and even fears for the future. To be in an environment with such awe inspiring minds was humbling.
By the end of the trip I was fatigued and euphoric from the stimulation. I found solace in knowing that my exhaustion came from doing something that truly made me happy. This trip was one of affirmations; an affirmation of who I am and where I want to be. Yo!fest by far exceeded my expectations. Yet more importantly, I exceeded my expectations of myself as well in the process. I would strongly recommend up and coming activists and leaders to attend this event. I will forever be grateful for the access that Yo!Fest gave me; from the people I was fortunate enough to engage with, to the invaluable perspectives and insight I gained.
Marie, TuWezeshe Fellowship Mentor