Global Youth Parliament meets July 18-23

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Youth from KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, and Ohio will “plant seeds for change” during a Global Youth Parliament that will take place July 18-23 in Bowling Green, Toledo and Marion. The parliament is the first of a new initiative designed to build networks of communication and collaboration between teenagers from South Africa and the United States.

A core group of four South African students ages 15 and 16, accompanied by two teachers, six teens from Bowling Green and two from Marion, will spend the week in activities and conversations related to common youth issues, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and human rights.

Throughout the week they will meet with other area youth who are either involved with or interested in social justice issues.

On Friday (July 20), they will work together with Toledo GROWS on an urban garden at the Padua Center, 1416 Nebraska St., Toledo. The South African and American students will also collaborate on a logo for the Global Youth Parliament to be incorporated into a mural. That evening, the group will get together with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts for dinner, conversation and dancing at the Maumee Valley Girl Scout Council, 2244 Collingwood Ave., Toledo.

On Saturday (July 21), members of area youth groups such as Adelante will meet the core group at the Sofia Quintero Cultural Center, 1225 Broadway, Toledo, for more collaborative art and discussion.

Their stay in the area also includes a presentation in the city commissioners' chambers at 4 p.m. Saturday and a visit to the JUICE radio station, 5902 Southwyck Blvd., at 10:15 a.m. Sunday (July 22).

The parliament is spearheaded by Dr. Sharon Subreendoth, an assistant professor of teaching and learning at Bowling Green State University, and Dr. Lorna Gonsalves, executive director of Human Values for Transformative Action, a Toledo-based nonprofit organization.

The South African group is in the United States to present their civic-education project at the first international Project Citizen showcase in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Center for Civic Education (CCED) in Calabasas, Calif. Subreendoth directs a partnership with CCED and “when we learned the South African students were going to be in Washington, we decided we couldn't pass up the opportunity to invite them and work with our area youth,” she said.

The parliament is an outgrowth of the partnership among BGSU's International Democratic Education Institute, Human Values for Transformative Action and the Centre for Community and Educational Development in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

“It is our hope that these young ambassadors from KwaZulu-Natal and Toledo will become empowered to raise social consciousness, promote civic engagement and prompt social action within international communities,” Subreendoth said.

“The South African and Ohio students will work together on identifying common issues within their local communities and discuss their national and international implications. They will begin creating a plan of action while in Ohio and will further develop and implement their plans in their communities when they get back to South Africa,” she said. “We hope to have a videoconference with the youth ambassadors in about six months to share the progress of their action plans.”

The Global Youth Parliament is supported by the Office of the Dean of BGSU's College of Education and Human Development through its multicultural initiatives committee along with the School of Teaching and Learning and the International Democratic Education Institute, BGSU's Partnerships for Community Action and Center for Innovative and Transformative Education, as well as private donations to Human Values for Transformative Action.

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(Posted July 17, 2007 )