Reflections on Camp Democracy, by Hannah Söffing

What did I „learn“ at „Camp Democracy“ in Greece and Sweden?

It’s hard to break it down just like that. Not because it was so little or because it doesn’t seem to be relevant. The opposite is the case: it was a lot; but it’s a kind of knowledge that is organized in a different way then the knowledge that is presented to us as „knowledge“ often enough in our daily life. This might be due to the fact that participating in that fantastic project provided a way of learning that goes beyond the normal, more „propositional“ and information-based understanding of what it means to learn. It wasn’t only about to get to know raw facts about the European Union that are to remember in the right formulation to the right moment, addressing it to the right person. On the other hand it was not just about getting to know other young people and exchanging perspectives more randomly as you can do it while travelling for example.

First of all, there was something you could name „the methodological site“: It was precious for me to see how different strategies of leading or guiding a group (or not) affected group working processes. For instance I learned that it is important to provide a space where creativity can flow freely, but that at the same time, it seems to be crucial that the frame of this creative thinking is set clearly. Moreover it may have a huge impact which expectations you communicate towards a group. Secondly, with the method, there came content and – the most important point for me personally – a lot of reflection about me as a being that is able to take political actions. Starting the whole project process in a Barcamp in Rhodes, we were asked to express our ideas about what we felt would be an important issue to discuss, regarding the status quo and the future of the European Union: What is concerning us, young european citizens? Was does it mean to us, this thing called European Union? With what kind of problems do we have to deal these days? Are there similarities, differences? How we could be politically active via the projects we would give birth? Even though I knew already before that living circumstances differ quite a lot across the European Union member states, having more direct access to what kind of issues people are facing and how they’re coping with them brought a new quality into my thinking about today’s challenges of the European Union. You might say you could also experience this by travelling, but you are able to start from a completly different level of discussion if you bring people together who are explicitely interested into social issues.

Whenever you look at questions and you understand better where there are coming from, you propbably won’t find answers, but even more questions.

This could leave you in resignation now – but Camp Democracy encouraged us to take action, and may it be on a small scale. Don’t hesitate doing it just because it’s possible that it doesn’t work out.

Probably think it small first, but then do it!