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Last Saturday, we held a “Youth Encuentro” (workshop with AMIGOS participants and local youth) that brought together participants and young people from different communities such as: Santo Tomás, Palmar de Varela, Ponedera and Campo de la Cruz. All the young people were excited to meet other young leaders and learn much more about the community service projects in order to improve their own projects, their teamwork abilities, and much more.

The Youth Encuentro was held at the Universidad del Norte and was a space to share, connect, inspire, and above all learn from an experience that seeks to empower and transform ideas into real and sustainable actions for change.

The event began with a welcome from the staff team and the Regional Director, Rasha Mannaa, who was received with great enthusiasm by the young participants with a message of motivation to continue working and striving to achieve their goals.

The staff team laid out the agenda for the day and the activities that would take place during the event.

The Youth Encuentro was designed to accomplish 3 main goals: INSPIRE, CONNECT, and CO-CREATE high-impact actions. We discussed topics like social innovation, project development, and youth empowerment.

Lorenzo Zanello, Director of Innovation of ADIUVO Colombia, a social organization that works to support youth and community-based projects in public schools across the country, began with a message of motivation. He also shared methodologies, activities, and actions that they can use to sustainably grow their projects in their communities.

One of the attendees was Poly Fortich, a 10-year-old social entrepreneur who  started her own foundation when she was 6. ECOPOLY works to raise awareness among young people and children of the city about the importance of protecting and caring for the environment through recycling and civic engagement.

After the inspiration stage, we moved on to the ideation stage of the event, where the youth from the communities and AMIGOS participants discussed the progress they have made on their projects, showed results, and shared their vision with the other attendees of the event. In addition, they had the opportunity to receive positive feedback from other teams, describing their strengths, opportunities, risks, and aspects to improve their projects in order to strengthen their initiatives and to provide greater sustainability to their activities.

Afterwards, we had a networking activity with the “CITAS DE RELOJ,” where the attendees of the event asked questions to other young people and discovered things they have in common.

After the activities, connections, and presentations, we finally made a dynamic called UBUNTU, an African reflection that says, “I am because you are.” Each attendee of the event shared a bracelet with the person next to them in order to show their gratitude for being here and that the service projects would not have been developed without the participation and dedication of each of the team members present.

The event was a success and all the young people had the opportunity to meet other young people from other communities. They shared ideas, actions, and recommendations to strengthen their community service projects, they found inspiration and commitment to social change, and could also have a space for reflection to realize that the projects would not have happened without their hard work. They are aware that they can impact many more young people to work toward social transformation.