Do you sometimes feel like your voice isn't being heard or like your opinion matters less simply because you’re young? Are you worried about the environment, social justice, your future or current politics? Do you feel powerless in front of the constant stressful and catastrophic news?
You are not the only one. With the participatory format of YOU:KO (Youth Congress) we want to give young people like us the space to network, to share common interests and ideas, to find new ways of empowerment, but also, above all, to meet in exciting and varied formats.
We: That are fifty German and French young people organizing this year’s youth congress with the motto: YOU:KO GénérAktion: your impact counts! The YOU:KO is an opportunity to connect, exchange and get inspiring input that will take place from the 28th to the 30th of September 2023, in Cologne, Germany.
We believe something that connects young people from all over the world is the will to create a better future - even if that means something different to everyone! Young people in particular are often facing burdens when aiming to make changes for the future: the struggle of not being taken seriously, having to fight to be given a platform, or simply not being heard. Within the framework of YOU:KO, we want to give young people the space that they deserve. Thereby it doesn't matter whether or not you've been active in some way before. For some, taking action or making an impact on society might seem far away, but we want to create a place to empower everyone in their own possibilities. This is why we chose the motto GénérAktion! Our generation has the power to act and make an impact.
At YOU:KO, we aim to unite diverse participants from France and Germany, ages 16 to 27. That includes all backgrounds, all genders, all religions, all sexualities as well as all educational backgrounds and occupations. YOU:KO is meant to be a safe space for everyone.
The cooperation between young people from Germany and France in this year’s YOU:KO is framed by historic context:
60 years ago, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Général de Gaulle signed the strategic Élysée Treaty that played a huge role in the history of Europe. The Éysée Treaty redefined relations towards a close and lasting partnership between Germany and France, ending a long history of rivalry and enmity. The new bond was carried by cooperation in education, foreign policy, economy and defense, including civil society via city- and youth exchanges. By doing so, they have become a role model for international understanding and European cooperation. End of story? Unfortunately not. The French-German connection is challenged by current issues and diverging opinions in politics and society. Also one can wonder: What is the meaning of it in an interdependent and interconnected world? Where do France and Germany stand within the EU and in international relations? What is our role and our responsibility? At the occasion of this anniversary, YOU:KO is here to fill the Franco-German friendship with life by bringing together young people from France and Germany to connect across borders, question their place in politics and discuss current challenges.
Our three-days event will focus on the motivations, challenges and ways of making an impact. Together as an organizing team, consisting of young people with several diverse backgrounds, we considered which topics move our everyday life and above all our thoughts as a generation. We were able to define three thematic pillars in the process:
Utopia: work and quality of life
Social justice, multi- identity and diversity
Climate crisis and planetary boundaries
Around these thematic pillars, we are creating an exciting YOU:KO-programme: we will offer workshops to dive deeper into different topics, creative formats, city tours through Cologne, talks and discussions and many more! Since YOU:KO is supposed to live from networking and discussion participants will have the chance to bring in their own topics into the conference.
So, what can you expect?
EDUCATION. How to become a changemaker without background knowledge?! We want to give you the opportunity to further learn about the topics we are focusing on with experts who can give us exciting input!
INSPIRATION. Now that I’m informed, how can I actually make an impact and what does that mean?! We will invite changemakers and initiatives that are already engaging to share their experiences and give you the tools to follow their example.
DISCUSSION. Of course, we also want to use YOU:KO as a space for intercultural exchange and multiperspective discussions about our key topics. We will provide room for your voices, thoughts and perspectives. We know you have something to say and we want to hear it. Your voice matters!
CONNECTION. YOU:KO is an occasion to get to know friends beyond the Rhine, and empower each other to work on our future together.
The working language will be English. Don’t worry! No need to be fluent, none of us are experts, and making mistakes is cool. Workshops will be offered in all three languages. We will provide translations for complex parts of the event and language support if you need it.
Registration is expected to open in July. If you’re interested, stay tuned via our Website and our Instagram Externer Link: @youko_youthcongress.
YOUKO 2023 is a joint project by the Federal Agency for Civic Education /bpb and The Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO/OFAJ/DFJW). As a participatory project, main program parts and the set-up of the event in general are designed and organized by a young German-French organizational team.