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Interreligious Workshop for Young People held in Zaragoza, Spain

An interreligious workshop for young people from Belgium, Portugal and Spain was held in Zaragoza from 11 to 14 September on the occasion of the Expo 2008.

The Global Network of Religions for Children, GNRC, organised an interreligious workshop on ethics education for 38 young people from ages 14 to 19 in Zaragoza, 11 – 14 September 2008. The workshop gathered youth from Belgium, Portugal and Spain coming from the Bahá'í Faith, the Anglican Church of Spain, the Movimento de Apostolado de Adolescentes e Crianças of Portugal and Muslim and Christian youth from Belgium. The objective of the workshop was to provide tools to the youth to become active participants of the GNRC and peace builders in their societies. It also aimed at bringing together their ideas, creativity and enthusiasm for the possible creation of GNRC youth groups in their respective countries. 

The workshop was held in Zaragoza on the occasion of the Expo 2008 that was focused this year on the topic of water.  It provided an excellent opportunity for the youth to be aware of the need for environmental protection. The Expo 2008 was also a platform for the youth to reflect about the use of water and its power as a catalyst for peace, a vehicle for strengthening relations between nations and individuals and to find harmony with nature and oneself. 

During three days the youth discussed issues that affect them in their societies and through dynamic activities reflected about the needs in their countries and cities. Through several introspective activities they put themselves in others' shoes and reflected about their individual and collective responsibilities. The participants also acquired some tools to enhance their team work skills and their ability to create initiatives and generate positive changes in their societies.

The workshop benefited from the participation of Mr. Angel Chueca and Ms. Mari Carmen Gascon, experts in human rights from the Asociación Española para el Desarrollo y la Aplicación del Derecho International de los Derechos Humanos (www.aedidh.org)  and the Seminario de Educación para la Paz of Zaragoza (www.seipaz.org), respectively, who spoke about peace as a human right and what it means for creating more just and equal societies. 

The youth organised a cultural evening where they presented their countries, customs, typical dances and food. On the third day, the participants shared some information about their religious beliefs and practices and had time for questions and answers. A musical evening was held on the second evening with the participation of a group of young people from the Bahá'í community, called Seekers of Unity. 

At the end of the workshop the participants committed themselves to run activities in their countries for the celelebration of the International Day of Peace and Action for Children, organized by the GNRC. They also proposed several ideas for the initiation of interreligious activities in their countries. 

Special thanks to Ms. Marta Palma, GNRC Coordinator for Europe and Mr. Omid Makhani, contact person for the GNRC in Spain for the support and logistical coordination, and to the facilitators Ms. Mahal Da Costa, Ms. Iris Marques, Ms. Clara Castellanos and Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe. 

The workshop was planned and developed using the approach, methodologies and activities of the recently developed manual, Learning to Live Together, launched by Arigatou International at the GNRC Third Forum in Hiroshima, Japan, May 2008.

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