A close look at Field Trip 11 - The art of offering umbrellas

As friday got rather rainy towards the afternoon, one of the first things that Jelena and Luka - two friendly and bubbly young Croatians from the World Youth Alliance (WYA) Croatia - offered was to share an umbrella with the participants of NECE. This gesture proved to be quite symbolic, as Reza, Maryam, Brahmi, Ruslan, Magdalena and Lisa – the NECE crowd forming fieldtrip number eleven – would learn throughout the following hours.

The destination of the trip was a random conference room, a few tram stations away from Lisinski hall. As Jelena explained on the way, squeezed into a crowded blue Zagreb tram, The World Youth Alliance Croatia does not have a permanent office but is moving from place to place. She and her friends themselves were just terminating a conference, the 4th Croatian World Youth Alliance Week. One important aim of the conference, Jelena explained, is to give young Croations reasons to stay in their home country, as 50,000 of them are leaving every year for other countries that seem to offer them more opportunities - a problem that earlier in the conference was problematarised by Drago Župarić-Iljić. „The situation worries me though, if it does not get better, I will go as well.“, Jelena added after a short moment of reflection. Luka on the contrary showed himself optimistic awaiting a promising future after his studies of pharmacy. 

Activism and friendship

In a small seminar room two more members of the WYA Croatia, Andreja and Ivo, were already waiting and introduced the Youth Alliance together with Jelena and Luka as a community of friends connected by humanistic values like dignity and respect, solidarity and mutual support and friendship.

As a branch of the WYA, founded in 1999 during the UN summit in New York by Anna Halpine, their activities also include the promotion of active youth participation, comprehensive Human Rights education, personal and group development, social entrepeneuship and the WYA traineeship programme.

„We want to learn from the best Western teachers to understand basic principles on which society and culture are based on – and then see how we can help other young people with our knowledge“, Andreja pointed out.

The magic of literature 

Luka talked about his creative writing project, called Prirok, and expressed his believe in the transformative potential of literature – for the individual just as much as for societies. To illustrate the magic of literature he recited a love poem that impressed him a lot and shaped his belief not only in the transformative potential of literature, but also in the possibility of a peaceful neighborhood of different identities:


sjedim na mostu i promatram kompozicije kako prolaze

lica s prozora mi brzo izmiču,

ali u svako se stignem zagledati, pronaći ono njezino šiljasto, lisičje i tamnoputo

njene oči bih odmah prepoznao,

dva oka različitih boja, jedno zeleno, jedno plavo,

kao da se nisu mogli dogovoriti oko pigmenta,

pa su, eto, oba različita, posvađana

kao dva susjeda iste zemlje

(Ivan Katičić)


sitting on a bridge and watching compositions pass by

faces on the windows move away from me quickly,

but I get to look at each face, to find hers, pointy, foxy and dark

I would recognize her eyes right away

two eyes of different color, one green, one blue

as if they could not reach an agreement on pigment,

so they are, well, different, estranged

like two neighbours of the same country

(Ivan Katičić)

How to offer shelter in times of wind and rain

After the inputs, Ivo, Andreja and Luka each offered a short workshop to allow deeper discussions on possible impacts of literature and even the meaning of life in similar ways as in their usual workshop with young people. The philosophical content of the discussions as well as the very warm and personal atmosphere allowed a touching understanding of the probably most important effect of the work of WYA Croatia: To offer an umbrella, a safe space of shelter, communication and friendship in insecure times.

Citizenship Education
Conference Day: 

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