BDN presents first hand reports from UK visitors to the recent EUDY Youth Camp and General Assembly in Leksand, Sweden.
Ninety-seven participants from 28 countries attended the EUDY Youth Camp 2016 in July at Västanviks Folkhögskola in Leksand, Sweden. The venue, located in the heart of Dalarna, is the sole college/adult education programme in Sweden offering a full sign language environment.
The EUDY Youth Camp 2016 theme was: ”Diversity in the Minority” embracing the richness of cultural diversity within Deaf communities. Participants were given the opportunity to engage in intercultural dialogue while exploring and analysing cultures, traditions, and norms within the Deaf community. The theme focused on gender equality, the LGBTQ community and cultural minorities as well as disability and social inclusion. Participants were challenged to reflect upon their position and attitudes in order to gain a deeper awareness of intersectional discrimination within the Deaf community.
Honesty Willoughby: “Time flashed by, listening to many different people covering different topics such as equality, Deafblind, Love and HIV and sharing their experiences. A Frenchman and an Austrian woman had a battle over which country invented the croissant! (Austria won by the way!) One memory that stood out was when I ended up in a boat, on a lake, watching a sunset and a sunrise within an hour of each other! The next thing I know I’m in a circle group full of people from many different countries with various cultures, signing away as if we had known each other for years instead of for just a week. I cannot explain it in words. You have to go and experience it yourself. This is what I will remember when a person asks me if I’m happy about being a Deaf person. I’m lucky because I may never have had this type of opportunity if I wasn’t. I am so grateful to BDA and BDA Youth for this unforgettable opportunity.”
Simon Herdman: “The chance to meet other Deaf leaders who are involved in their own youth associations all over Europe is so rewarding. It was a golden opportunity to exchange opinions, information, knowledge and even jokes! There was a lot of networking and laughter but we also talked about important things like linguistics, philosophy, barriers, our rights and education as well as swapping travel and life tales. Not only that, but we also gained new knowledge from the speakers at the camp, and we will be forever grateful for the contributions of Mia Modig and Patrik Nordell, Ri Mus, Dennis Hoogeveen and Jari Pärgma, Ace Mahbaz and Stéphanie Floux and Sarah Remgren.
“Patrik theorised that the Deaf community is like a specific weed called rhizome. We are all connected, and whenever a weed is pulled out, a new one takes its place. So, remember dear readers, we are all connected just like rhizome and if we work together, then certainly we can take advantage from Deaf gain. I think the Camp experience has shaped us all for the better, for the future of the British Deaf Association.”
Hannah Whalley: “This year the EUDY camp took place in Sweden, Leksand. Our theme this year was ‘Diversity in the Minority’. This was the basis of our discussions and workshops and it gave us all a lot to think about. The location was idyllic, the theme
was really interesting and the structure was brilliant, but what I believe made this year’s EUDY camp so special was the people.
“It was organised entirely by young volunteers between the ages of 18-30. The energy and commitment they put into it was phenomenal. The participants come from all different countries; backgrounds and cultures, with 28 nationalities and almost 100 individuals. The age group is between 18-30 and everyone contributes to the camp through their personality and experience. This camp was full of love, energy, ideals, creativity and positivity, which reassured me that the future of Deaf young people is in safe hands.
“I arrived at Stockholm Airport, not knowing what to expect and there I met people from Ireland, Netherlands (from whom I learned that Netherlands people don’t like their country being called Holland!), Latvia and Demark. We stayed at their beautiful Deaf school set in the idyllic Sweden countryside, which had everything literally accessible for Deaf people e.g. doorbell in each bedroom. We quickly began dissembling national stereotypes and discovering each other’s sign languages and personalities and playing games and laughing. Within the first few days I already felt at home. Through the intensity and personal quality of the social interaction that goes on during the camp, I very soon had developed friendships that will last forever and met people that mean more than the world to me.”
Karar Saeed: “The camp was amazing, but I will talk about the General Assembly which took place at the end of the camp. This was my first experience representing the UK as a delegate for the General Assembly, along with Ashley Kendall. Firstly, I was amazed by the number of countries that were represented! I was introduced to delegates from 20 plus countries, many of them I had never met before. The first day started with the ‘Extraordinary General Assembly’, which relates to the Statutes and Constitution of the EUDY. Delegates of each country debate and approve any proposed changes or amendments to the EUDY and following this, the General Assembly 2016 is officially open. For the next two days, Friday and Saturday, Member Countries debated and voted on several issues, including a vote to change the EUDY’s flag (we voted no), hosting the 2018 Youth Camp (it will be in Romania) and we elected new EUDY board members. There will be 2 new members from Denmark and Switzerland.
“Most importantly, the UK proposed a motion to create new guidelines and policies on ‘Safeguarding for Children and Vulnerable Adults’. This is to cover activities such as camping etc. and the Member Countries voted overwhelmingly to approve our motion. We are very pleased with this outcome, which will be implemented in due course. The EUDY General Assembly was an invaluable experience. It was encouraging and inspiring to see so many people from other European countries working together for the same goal; to advance and protect the rights and opportunities of the Deaf European Youth. I was honoured to be part of it.”
The EUDY (European Union for the Deaf Youth) have been organising camps for Deaf youth in Europe since 1985. The main aim is to give participants from all over the continent the chance to meet each other, exchange cultures and ideas and to work together. The camps are in three categories: for 9 to 12 years old (Children), 13 to 17 years (Junior) and 18-30 (Youth).