“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” (Preamble of UNESCO Constitution, 1945)

This was the first thing that came to my mind when I decided to design a project on the role of young people in the peacebuilding processes. Everything begins in our minds and our thoughts create the reality we are living in.

When people ask me what I like most about Ukraine I always reply that I am happily amazed by the activism of young people and their will to improve the society. In the last 8 months I met several representatives of youth-led organizations and their commitment to create positive change in Lviv made me feel optimistic that good things are going to happen. However, they are often not recognized and their voice is not heard at the high-level tables.
For this purpose the United Nations Resolution 2250 has been created: to encourage UN member states to acknowledge youth contribution in the creation of peace and give them a greater voice in the decision-making.

The Youth Peace and Security Initiative that I coordinated aimed at raising awareness about this important resolution among young students in the 3 main universities in Lviv and involved them into discussions around 3 main topics:

– Youth Peace and Security as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
– Women Peace and Security
– Preventing Violent Extremism

The Initiative ended with the final event “ Youth Talks”, where young leaders shared their experience and showed that youth have the right to represent their concerns about peace and security.

Working for the Youth Peace and Security Initiative is one of the highlights of the year, and  a great personal achievement. The process for the realization of the full project has been challenging  but has been important for the professional growth I was aiming for.
I have learnt that not everything is under my control and that sometimes I have to let things go. I have learnt to believe in myself and that my skills go beyond what I thought.
But above all, I have learnt that when I feel like giving up  that is the time to keep going. Even if you are scared of the obstacles you could encouter in the path, keep in mind that you have to reach the top of the mountain,no matter what. Wear good shoes and  climb!

Valentina