Youth exchange project set to create a revolution

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A NEW youth exchange programme betweenthe Netherlands and the UK is hoping to create set create a new spirit of activism among young people, says its organisers.Young people enrolled in the New Urban Collective Youth Exchange will be exposed via a structured programme to African history and art and those facing discrimination will be encouraged to discuss solutions and ways of communicating their ideas to decision and policy-makers.


Funded by the European Commission’s Youth in Action project, the exchange is the brainchild of 24-year-old Kojo Bonsu, a digital marketing and e-commerce executive and Mitchell Esajas, chairman and founder of the Netherlands-based youth, social enterprise New Urban Collective (NUC) from which the project takes its name. It is also being supported and managed by Bilal Ameen, director of the African Caribbean Development Foundation (ACDF).

Bonsu, who said he has always had a passion for community work, hopes the exchange will result in a new era of “empowerment.”

He said: “I want to see tangible change resulting from this exciting meeting of minds and cultures.

“The youth need to rise up and take advantage of the opportunities to change their community, because they have the fresh insight and new vision to make it happen.”

Esajas, who recently went on an exchange to South Africa, said he hoped the experience will be “life changing.”

He said: “Going on exchange changed my whole perspective on what I can accomplish and what opportunities are out there in this global village.

“I believe that this programme will extend the horizons of its participants – physically and mentally.”

Ameen, who has been running youth exchange projects for more than 20 years, said the scheme would allow participants to learn from each other.


“The situation in Holland is that racism and inequality, in many ways, is only now starting to emerge as an issue, as ethnic minorities begin to demand equality. Though the youth here are still facing many challenges with discrimination, they may be experiencing it in different ways.”

He added: “It is also awakening for our young people to see how far we have come, and to ensure that spirit of activism that purchased our progress is re-invigorated.”

One of the programme’s facilitators is Brenda King, chief executive of African and Caribbean Diversity, which runs a mentoring and enrichment scheme for black students. She said: “Young people suffering discrimination can end up feeling isolated.  This programme will show them that this is a global problem and they are not alone.”

One Dutch participant described the experience as being like “a mirror” allows them to see themselves from another angle.

Another said: “This is about knowing where we come from, learning from our mistakes and deciding where to go.”
The programme is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 and will run from February 23 to March 2.

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