March 20 – 25, 48 American youth workers from Indiana was hosted by YMCA George Williams College in Northern Ireland, in coordination with Youth Action NI, Ulster University and the Critical Research Hub, YMCA George Williams College brought together more than 100 practitioners from the eclectic world of youth work. The conference took place on March 22, 2019.
The aim of the conference and workshops with our international collective, was to exchange and discuss a range of perspectives, methodologies and initiatives that were in harmony with our efforts, working alongside Aġenzija Żgħażagħ in Malta and London based Manor Education and Training Solutions Ltd., to develop a youth work curriculum for young people in vocational training.
Dr Brian Belton who currently leads on this project, delivered the overview of YMCA George Williams College two years of research and training, collaborative learning and the College’s role as overseer of the project’s intellectual outputs.
Dr Jen Brooker, an invaluable member of the project’s research and training team, put in an enormous amount of work, over many weeks, making the 10 day visit successful, interesting and fulfilling for our American guests.
About the IYWE and The Journey
For over 15 years, The International Youth Worker Exchange (IYWE) has enabled youth workers from Indiana to travel internationally and build relationships with colleagues and peers around the globe. Participating youth workers (who are also Journey Fellows) seek to appreciate the lives and culture of youth development professionals through homestays, youth work site visits, and conferences and sessions promoting dialogue about each other and the work of serving young people. The IYWE has included the USA, United Kingdom, Kenya, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Austria.
The International Youth Worker Exchange is a program of The Journey – an organisation devoted to the personal and professional development of youth workers in Indiana and beyond. The Journey helps professionals who serve young people stay grounded in who they are and the importance of their work. The organisation helps youth workers get connected to each other as colleagues and friends and inspires them to do big things on behalf of the youth people they serve.
Participating youth workers are selected to become Journey Fellows and attend a series of four, three-day retreats in their first year. Fellows then participate in the larger Journey community in professional events including the IYWE and the International Youth Worker Symposium on The Sea www.thejourneyonline.org.
Working with YMCA George Williams College
This year 48 American youth workers travelled to Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland for ten days of cultural sharing about youth work. Starting in Belfast, the group spent the five days doing a number of activities designed to help them learn about youth work in Northern Ireland.
Beginning with a walking tour to gain a cultural context, the following day saw 120 youth workers from across Northern Ireland and America come together to learn about the similarities and challenges each country currently faces when working with young people. The day conference included ten workshops (five per country) and a presentation about the College’s work in Malta.
On the Friday, the group was divided into four and partake in site visits around East, North and West Belfast and London/Derry seeing youth work in action. On the Saturday the group visited the Surf Project at Portrush and spent the morning surfing and learning about the Surf Project youth work organisation, before visiting the local sites of the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Sunday the group travelled to the Republic of Ireland for another five days, sharing and learning about youth work in the green isle.
Additionally, we have some You Tube footage to share from the conference, video and editing completed by Ulster University.