The Power of Being Different but Together: Highlights from my Youth Empowerment Lab Experience




Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, Conflict Resolution and Mediation

By Aurora Partelli


In celebration of 375th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia, the City of Osnabrück and GDL members Elsa Marie D’Silva, Nurana Mammadova, Theresa Carrington, Ghada Zribi and Fabrice Muchiga, hosted the Youth Empowerment Lab 2023 in Osnabrück from 29 October to the 3 November 2023 to amplify the voices of young people and offer them a platform for constructive dialogue. The Youth Empowerment Lab equips young emerging peace makers with innovative tools and methodologies to drive change within their communities and beyond and fosters global collaboration among young minds dedicated to cultivating peace.



This is the word that I associate with the experience, in which I had the privilege to take part from 28 October to 4 November 2023 in Osnabrück. I am talking about the Youth Empowerment Lab organised by Global Diplomacy Lab (GDL) and the city of Osnabrück, the place where the Peace of Westphalia was proclaimed in 1648. This treaty was an important turning point for the history of Europe and was commemorated at its 375th anniversary in Osnabrück with a diverse programme, including the Youth Lab.


Why powerful?

Before starting this project, I was really frustrated and overwhelmed, since I had the feeling as an individual of not being able to help or bring any changes in this present, that will be my future and of the young generations. I feel bad when I think that in 2024, we still have wars. I feel bad every day, knowing that I have a warm room and three or more meals in a day while there are people and innocent kids, who are dying because of wars, in the sea on their way to find a better future or suffering from poverty. I often complain and don’t realise how lucky I am. We live in a world that pushes us to “win as much as we can”, like the name of a game we played during the Lab, as we forget the importance of inclusion and the meaning of peace.


The project showed me that it is still possible to make a change, starting from our small community. For sure, it won’t be easy, but it’s feasible, because there is power in collaboration, innovation, and diversity. Communication, selfcare, respect and kindness are keywords to build peace and to create a better world.


I am thankful for everything I have learned during the week of the Youth Lab. The learning process was not only facilitated by lectures, but also interactive discussions, games, visits of organisations and institutions in the city, use of technological tools for peace building, a theatre workshop and a daily peace circle and meditation round.
One of the games played on the abovementioned idea of “Win as much as you can” consisted in choosing between letter x and y, just knowing that in base of our decisions and the decisions of the other groups we could win or lose points. x was the safer option for everyone, y was the most risky but also, if played well, the chance to get a lot of points. During the four rounds of the game, we had the possibilities to negotiate and discuss with the leader of the other groups before taking the decision.


Participants of the Youth Lab play a game with colorful cards

Games were an integral part of the Youth Lab Experience.


Aurora looking at a painting during the Osnabrück Safari

During the many activities, such as the museum visit, participants got to know the city’s history of confict and peace.


It ended up being a big chaos and participants even resorted to lie in order to win over the others. What I realised as a result is that, in the end, we all lost. We just wanted the others to lose more than us. We didn’t think of the possibility that everyone can get less, but at the same time everyone wins. We cared about only ourselves, taking the complicated route without arriving at any solutions. This inspired us to reflect on how important and beneficial collaboration is. Collaboration can be a huge advantage, if we act out of consideration for everyone.


We also had the honour to meet experienced changemakers: Dr Monika Hauser, founder of Medica Mondiale, is an inspiring woman and gynaecologist who decided to go to Bosnia in the middle of the Yugoslav War in 1992 to create a safe place for the women who have been raped and traumatised in the war and their children. We also met the former president of the European Commission, Hans-Gert Pöttering. He expressed his gratitude for our engagement and reminded us that, although we speak different languages, have different skin colours, different beliefs, we are all human beings.

Dr Monika Hauser, acclaimed activist and gynecologist, left a mark with her powerful speech.

Dr Monika Hauser, acclaimed activist and gynecologist, left a mark with her powerful speech.


Above all, I am grateful for having met amazing people, who became friends, from all over the world. They taught me a lot and spread their positive energy in many ways: talking, discussing, cooperating, smiling, singing, and dancing. They allowed me to see my perception of “foreign” from another perspective: as something beautiful, enriching, and unique.


“There is beauty in trying.”

This is one of the sentences that caught my attention during our last big peace circle. That was one of the most touching moments. We were sad that the experience was coming to an end, but happy to have such amazing memories and the hope that we can create a better word TOGETHER. I wish all the people, no matter nationality, culture, religion, skin colour, disabilities or political opinions will hug and create a circle, dancing, singing, and laughing as we did. For a peaceful world.

Participants presented their final “projects for peace” at the end of the week in the plenary hall




Author: Aurora Partelli
Editors: Svenja Prigge, Corinna Fischer

Photos: © Angela von Brill

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