Youth Activism Conference in Norway

01/10/2021

Our young activists had the chance to travel to Norway for a Youth Activism Conference, where they engaged with interesting topics, inspiring people and developed their critical thinking. Here are their thoughts on the two very busy days they spent in Oslo.  

Gergő Kovács

Freedom Club Budapest ~ coordinator

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that our trip to Oslo was a fascinating opportunity. And though we got to see some of the city, which is absolutely stunning, that is not what I'd like to concentrate on in this short recap.

The experience I had with Amnesty Norway was so positive I don't think I'll ever forget it. We were invited to a youth event that lasted two days, centered around the topic of sportswashing (when states use major sporting events or clubs to divert attention from human rights abuse and improve their image). The first day mostly consisted of presentations, held among many by experts in the field, university professors and the general secretary of Amnesty Norway himself, and workshops where we got to discuss a large range of topics. I heard a lot of good insight and I got to chat with a lot of wonderful people. We also got to brief the people present about what we have been working on in Hungary. It was a long and eventful day so after dinner, everyone went home to get some well-deserved rest. The next day that rest turned out to be more than needed as the youth club had the task of planning an action, and carrying it out entirely in one day. It was amazing to see the organizational skills on display and the efficient methods used, I think I was not alone in taking mental notes to use back home. We also had the chance to get involved in the planning and though regrettably, we couldn't participate in the event itself, as we had a flight to catch.

I was both very inspired by the work Amnesty Norway and their youth clubs do and had my heart warmed by their hospitality. I really am looking forward to working with them in the future, or returning the favor and hosting some of their activists. 

Enikő Magyar

Freedom Club Budapest ~ coordinator

Although I am unable to write acceptable reports of any of my experiences, I am trying my best to depict my enthusiasm. However, I am obliged to warn the readers: I take no responsibility for any unforeseen boredom.

If I would have to use only one word to describe everything that had happened to me during these almost three days, I would only say: amazing. And I am not thinking solely about our accommodation, the friendly nature of people nor the speed of the (blue) tram, but also about the structure of the conference, the invited performers, and the general desire to act.

From everything, I would highlight two elements: the presentations and the second day.

Knowing me, it was no surprise that I fell in love with the presentations - maybe because of the diction, the common topic, or the basic mood of the conference - but I am emphasizing that these speeches had an unbelievable impact on me. Those that live in me the most vividly are the slides containing Zhang Zhan's story. The former lawyer was sentenced for four years of imprisonment by the Chinese government for the reason of writing about the coronavirus outbreak. To this day, I remember the woman's face, and every time I think about her case, the flow of information I have received during the two days breaks the dam of oblivion in my mind.

The desire to act and the ardour this inspired - and inspires even today - were deepened during our second day.

The aim of the first day was to educate the members. But in the focus of the second day was the implementation. We divided our group into four work teams thus speeding up the process of planning. This was all because we had to have the action in progress in a few hours. I, myself, had never been a part of this kind of work, so when the ideas finalized in the little work teams connected and then developed so, I felt like I was in another reality.

The action itself was a success - but after all this, this might not be a surprise.

I believe that I will experience several other spiritually overwhelming events like this, and I am sure that the majority of these will be thanks to our domestic activists. 

Eszter Csordás

Youth Club Budapest ~ coordinator

This September I've got the opportunity to visit Oslo with two FC members and our youth coordinator. We were taking part in an event called Norway Youth Meeting 2021 where Laura and I were representing the Budapest Youth Club. My main goal was to observe the operation of the Norwegian amnesty, what type of activism techniques they use, and how they include the youth/youth groups into their work.

Other than the answers to my questions I also learned a lot of new and intriguing cases. Before the event I haven't heard of the term "sports washing", but the numerous presentations and the introduction of different views by great lecturers helped me not just understand but make me excited to watch what actions the Norwegian groups will come up with and I also got motivated to organize something here, at home with the Youth Clubs. Laura and I already have ideas for an online educational campaign on this topic!

Between the interesting presentations, we chatted, introduced ourselves, laughed, and shared ideas with the Norwegian young adults. They were very open, curious, and helpful which have led the discussion into inspiring new ideas. We told them about the situation in Hungary and they have offered their help and online platform to collaborate so they can contribute to the change here too.

The system there is similar there with different groups for high school students and university students. What I personally really like was that they had a so-called "Student Council" which had representatives from each youth club, and they got the chance to work more closely with the office and help in organization and projects to voice the youth's opinion.

Oslo itself is an amazing city with modern buildings, long, clean, car-free streets where we enjoyed long walks together. My favourite ones were where members of the amnesty team, both students and office workers have shown us the different parts of the city. With the small river in the centre, colourful lights, stylish houses, and design cafés it became very close to our hearts. We ran into rap concerts on the street, small markets and enjoyed the great, clean and chilly Norwegian air.

I could not make a conclusion such as "it was a great experience". This could not give justice to how much I enjoyed and learned from the whole trip. I collected a lot of new knowledge, friends, and ideas that motivate me to share this knowledge and work on strengthening international networks and share ideas globally to create change. This may sound cheesy, but I really feel grateful for this experience and feel like I'm part of something bigger, an open and international Amnesty family.

Laura Shaaban

Youth Club Budapest ~ coordinator

Our spontaneous trip to Norway has definitely been one of the highlights of this year for me. It was inspiring to meet young activists from another country who are just as ready to take action and fight for human rights as we are.

For me the most memorable part of our trip was the two-day long youth gathering that we attended. I was a little bit nervous going in, since we were the only group from another country, but the amount of interest, kindness and welcoming shown towards us was something I would never have expected.

During the weekend we had the chance to listen to a lot of exciting and interactive presentations. We learned and talked about lots of human rights issues, like sports washing, which is something that I hadn't heard of before. But thanks to the number of interesting facts and stories that I received about it, I can't wait to dig deeper into the subject. It was also very inspiring to see how actively the Norwegian entity takes part in standing up for human rights regarding violations in other countries. I'm sure that our groups will join forces in the near future, as a matter of fact, we will partake in one of their online campaigns this fall.

Another thing that we really liked about Norway was Oslo's and the people's vibe. Even though we only spent two days there, we instantly felt like we could live there. And the friendliness of the ones around us created an atmosphere where it was fun to work together..