Mobility for Young People
Introducing the learning resource
In this learning resource we use the term “mobility” to provide a conceptual foundation for intercultural training. We outline here the thinking behind our approach and hope you will be inspired to take a challenging learning path with us.
As you work through the activities in the six units, please keep referring back to this opening statement to see how its ideas develop and take shape in real life situations and practices.
You can download the following opening statement on mobility as a pdf file here. Translations of the opening statement can also be downloaded in Arabic, Bulgarian, Spanish and Turkish. A resource for youth workers in their diverse roles
We hope that this professional development resource will be of value for all who work with young people – youth workers, educators, and youth group facilitators. Many different roles are included here: some of us prepare young people for participation in school trips abroad, others coordinate university ERASMUS-type schemes, others still work with young refugees and migrant workers, and, as a final example, some aim to bridge ethnic and religious divides and facilitate conflict resolution through youth work.
Helping youth workers support young people
Contemporary living is increasingly complex and many challenges and opportunities result from this. On the one hand, our local environments now carry influences of ideas, products, behaviours, and values originating elsewhere; and, on the other, our horizons are becoming increasingly broad and distant. For many of us, the local is being globalised and the global is becoming localised. It is in this global-local environment that our young people develop, within which they participate, and to which they contribute. The skills and awarenesses they need for this differ from those of earlier generations. If we who support them are to be effective, we ourselves need to fully understand these newer skills and awareness. And we need to be clearer about how we can help young people develop them. This is why we have developed a learning resource for the youth workers themselves.
Approaches to intercultural training
Intercultural training often takes a ‘cultural approach’. It focuses on information about the countries to which the young people are travelling for study or other purposes. But often there is a mismatch between, on the one hand, the complexities of the environments in which our young people live, and, on the other, over-generalisations in training materials. Is cultural training based on national, regional, ethnic, gender, and/or religious understandings adequate for the contemporary world? We think not. Instead, we approach the complexities of living in the contemporary world through the concept of ‘mobility’.
Mobility as an intercultural agenda
Mobility is associated with both physical movement (for example travel across borders) and more abstract movement (for example, social mobility). We believe that mobility for young people also involves moves into otherness through online communications or through the media, literature and film. Further, for some young people, mobility represents an opportunity – the freedom to choose where to study and work, and with whom to associate. For others, it may involve the struggle to overcome the constraints that society, tradition, and politics, for example, place upon them. Mobility is not only what happens when young people move between countries, but also the step they make to understand and decide to stand out for the rights of their peers. Mobility is what young people require of their parents and elders when trespassing against dominant values such as those governing sexuality and morality. Mobility can make young people realise how privileged they are but also realise how discriminated against they may be.
Meeting a challenging training agendaAbove all, if they are to play a full, valued and respected and respectful part in their local, national and international contexts, young people need mobility of ideas, attitudes, expectations and practices. They need this for their encounters with cultural otherness. Such mobility also lies at the heart of the respect for fundamental human rights and the engagement with the challenges of inequality and conflict. When mobility is viewed like this, the training agenda can seem daunting. We hope that this resource plays a small part in reducing this challenge.