One hour drive away from Malaga, amid the majestic olive trees of Southern Spain lies a small Andalusian village. On the 18th of September the usually silent community is shaken up as the first buses arrive to the Centre for Euro-American Youth (CELULAJ). It is again that time of the year. The time, when Mollina becomes the land of inspiration for 250 young people coming from all around the world!

From the 18 to 25 September 2016, the North-South Centre (NSC) of the Council of Europe organised for the 17th time the University of Youth and Development, in partnership with the European Youth Forum (YFJ), the Spanish Youth Council, and other international youth organisations and youth movements. Since its first edition, the University is providing an exceptional space for young people from Africa, Latin-America, Asia and Europe to meet, debate, build their capacities and co-operate on youth policy related issues. This year’s theme was “Connecting Identities”, and all activities organised by the NSC’s team were built around the philosophy of “Ubuntu” that is ‘I am because other people are’.

OBESSU had the opportunity to be present at the University with its Training for Multipliers, as part of the Seeds for Integration project. In the framework of this project OBESSU is providing seed grants to secondary school students to encourage them to implement their own initiatives enhancing the educational integration of refugee and migrant pupils.

Throughout the week the 17 OBESSU participants learned about the concepts of migration by first discussing the different relevant terminologies and the existing European and national policies in the field. Later on, the role of education in the integration of refugees and migrant pupils was explored with a focus on the difficulties that non-natives have to overcome in order to get access to and stay within the system. Special attention was dedicated to map the stakeholders on local, regional and national level that can help in realising the school students’ initiatives. The second half of the week was devoted to working together on the application form for the grants and to learning tools to become successful multipliers. At the end of the week all participants came up with great, innovative ideas that they want to implement either on local, regional or national level.

Mollina was a very special event. OBESSU participants became migration experts, project managers, multipliers, but they were also part of something bigger. They became the hearts and souls of the University of Youth and Development with more than 200 other young people.

Once you go to Mollina, you will never see the world the same way: sharing stories; creating and getting rid of the masks; festival of youth in the village; Katsikula – the mascot of the event- and the unforgettable music band, Ubanda. We have all understood the power of connecting identities!

Check out the pictures on our Facebook page!

For more information and details regarding the event and the Seeds for Integration project, please feel free to contact Eszter at eszter@obessu.org.