“This is an overwhelming response," says Ingrid Aspelund at EWC, "There are so many young people doing amazing work in their communities, and one of the main aims of the Thorvald Stoltenberg seminar is to encourage and empower young people who work on intercultural understanding and dialogue."
After the terror attacks 22 July 2011 Utøya carries a strong testimony of why values such as tolerance, equality and diversity cannot be taken for granted. It serves as an example of young people’s response and resilience to terror and violence. The dialogical approach to conflict resolution is very much in line with what Utøya is today: A place for people to meet, learn, exchange experiences, discuss, agree and disagree.
“Many of the applicants brings forward issues they face daily in their communities, such as polarisation and distrust among people and towards democratic institutions. What we highlight the most is the possibilities of the participants to bring something back and engage others after completing the training”, says EWC´s Inga Riseth.
Since the opening of the learning centre “Hegnhuset” at Utøya in 2016, EWC and partners in Norway has established a national programme on democratic citizenship for Norwegian pupils and teachers. The Thorvald Stoltenberg seminar brings a new international dimension to the programme. With growing threats to democratic values, principles and practices in many countries, the Thorvald Stoltenberg seminar aims to become an annual event that supports and promotes ongoing initiatives in Europe and beyond, to foster coexistence, trust and dialogue among young people living in diverse societies.