CHANIA | It was a great honor and privilege for me to address young people with roots from Crete at the 2013 convention of the World Council of Cretans. It was also a unique opportunity to have an open dialogue and put forward ideas and specific actions for young people living in different parts of the world, comprising surely a generation with great aspirations and visions.
One suggestion I put on the table for discussion was the foundation of a “Pancretan World Youth Academy” – a challenging and a promising concept that may well find plenty of valuable supporters.
With fresh or revised statutes to promote and support such an endeavor, a “Pancretan World Youth Academy” may develop a rational and a sensible and dynamic and holistic approach to enhance youth relations and collaborations inter-regionally. What for? For networking, for partnership development, for capacity building, for common events, for policy dialogue contributions. For improving opportunities and perspectives for our youth, for expanding their knowledge, their experiences, their familiarity with other organisations, other youth, or even a potential job market. Most importantly, for preserving their links and care for their home region, Crete.
A “Pancretan World Youth Academy” may help young people gather as a constant and consistent platform of representatives of pancretan youth associations worldwide. And with a common concrete communication strategy as a tool to reach their purposes and their ambitions, our youth may build on their impact, their effectiveness, as well as on their credibility as a platform.
If there is combined dedication on this undertaking, a “Pancretan World Youth Academy” could be an attractive initiative that can prove to be very inspiring and very pedagogical: a wealth of ideas can develop and initiate, including, for instance, the launching of a “Pancretan World Youth Capital”, the establishment of common forums and working groups to address ideas and tackle challenges, the formation of youth consultation groups with external partners to promote Cretan culture, tradition, hospitality and other values, and also, to plan on exchange and didactic programmes in Crete.
Besides, a “Pancretan World Youth Academy” may work on the creation of an informal advisory council with local and regional authorities to examine and consider what we could all – potentially – achieve together:
- A homecoming week: a week dedicated to Diaspora youth from Crete, that may include:
- Common concerts with young artists in Crete and outside Crete
- Common athletic events
- Common cooking events and the promotion of Cretan diet; establishing an international club of young Cretan chefs
- Business to business meetings with young entrepreneurs living in Crete and outside Crete
- Networking activities between young women of all educational and working backgrounds
- Forums dedicated to the exchange of good practices in a variety of fields with emphasis on innovation
- Conducted tours in local historical and archaeological sites, as well as in cities and villages of their origin
- Hospitality programs and exchanges between young people living abroad and young people living in Crete
- Establishing and naming young people as young “Ambassadors” of Crete abroad in each country and city that they live in
- Conferences on the support of the Greek language and Cretan culture abroad
- Presentations of distinguished studies of young scientists
- Creation and projection of documentaries about young people’s lives and their activities in their cities and their countries and on how they think of Greece and of Crete.
As an ending note, I have to add that I went to this year’s convention at Chania feeling that we all have to try harder to team-up and stand by our youth to be treated as equal citizens, to be supported to accomplish their fullest potential in society, to empower young people and to involve them to actively participate in any decision-making process that concerns them. I myself have always tried – like many of you – to be proactive when it comes to youth matters and to keep encouraging young people in their future plans.
However, as the convention was coming to a close, I was left with a profound feeling that it was our youth, instead, that had encouraged everyone else. How? With their approach to life, with their skills, their knowledge, their thirst for life, and of course, with their pure love and will to support their homeland in various ways.
Amazed also by their dancing abilities, their talent and stamina coming right from the heart, I too was touched and overwhelmed. This youth is a distinctive reward to our societies, and their families, they deserve much of the credit.
– EMMANOUIL VERGIS, (Περιοδικό “Κρηταιείς”)
Emmanouil Vergis is the Special Advisor on International and European Affairs of the Region of Crete. He has been Director of the Center for Rural Development and Social Solidarity of Heraklion, Manager at Ernst and Young in Athens, and has also worked as Policy Advisor at the European Parliament in Brussels, the Committee of the Regions, and the European Youth Forum. He has lived in South Africa, the Netherlands and Denmark, and he has studied in the UK and in Poland with Scholarship from the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation. He holds a BA degree and 2 Masters. He is founder and president of the newly-established “Citizens for Crete” initiative