A celebration of youth all around Europe

Imagine what a city would look like if it was populated exclusively by young people, even for a week. The possibilities would seem endless. The city might even be able to change the world. Such a week started yesterday and will run to December 11. During this time, 31 European capital cities, including Athens, will encourage creativity and leadership among their youth. The so-called European Youth Week 2006 (an initiative of the European Commission and the 31 countries that run the Youth and Eurodesk programs) will open in the Greek capital on December 7 at the Olympic Badminton Center in Goudi Park. The program of events for the four-day celebration is rich indeed. Organized and coordinated by the Greek General Secretariat of Youth, it includes one-day conferences, short-film screenings, dance and theater performances, live music concerts, an art exhibition, an online discussion with Greek Education Minister Marietta Giannakou, a series of seminars on professional guidance, interactive education games, simulated interviews and much more. Until Sunday, several related events will be taking place around the country, in places such as Thessaloniki, Rethymnon, Chios, Karditsa, Volos, Corinth, Zakynthos and Komotini. Furthermore, events in the capital, starting on December 7, will kick off with a performance made especially for European Youth Week 2006. Choreographed by Apostolia Papadamaki, «Manual on How to Change to the World» is a mixed-media show performed by the Quasi Stellar dance company. For the project, Papadamaki, orchestra director Nikos Vassileiou, drama historian Georgina Kakoudaki, set/costume designer Constantinos Zamanis, photographer Michalis Kloukinas and dancer Sania Strimbakou, brought together 25 young artists at a three-week workshop, during which they visually expressed their views of themselves and the world around them. Also of interest is the dance and improvisation workshop titled «Let’s Improvise,» where young people can become acquainted with modern dance and learn to express themselves through movement. The organizers have also arranged for 200 period costumes to be made available to participants so they may improvise short skits in a program titled «Find Your Role and Wear It.» The art being exhibited at the event has been created by young Greeks who participated in the 12th Biennale of Young European and Mediterranean Artists in Naples. Their works are inspired by day-to-day musings and issues that affect them and their surrounding environment. The festival will also include screenings of numerous short films by Greek directors who can highlight the significant artistic dynamic of the country. On a theatrical note, director Xenia Kalogeropoulou will present her play «Eliza,» a fairy-tale journey into the imagination. The professional orientation seminars, which will be held in the morning, are aimed mainly at high school students. Topics being covered include developing skills in information technology, writing a good curriculum vitae and learning how to conduct simple self-evaluation tests. The series will also include an interactive game titled «Wall Street Simulation,» where participants will be asked to make important decisions under pressure, work within the framework of a team, and develop better communication and representation skills. In the same vein, young participants will also be able to have mock job interviews that will help them develop their oral presentation skills. The one-day conference on the program includes discussions on the significance of volunteerism as a vehicle to a strong civil society and on the issue of violence against children. The latter discussion will include topics with titles such as «The Psychopathology of Violence,» «Bullying in School and Children’s Rights» and «Television and Violence in Children.» The last one-day conference will be on young people and their role in Europe and will examine how Greece’s youth can become more involved in European initiatives. The event will also be addressing social and environmental issues at the forefront of Greek society, including AIDs, drugs, blood donorship, recycling and protecting the environment. Finally, the organizers will be running a raffle – «Play – Learn – Win» – which will allow one group of young people to travel to Brussels and learn about the workings and institutions of the European Union.