Project “Everyday Practical Peacebuilding” wins grant of the European Solidarity Corps

Graffiti Wall "Unity in Diversity"

Students from the “Conflict Studies and Management” Specialization of the MPP at the Willy Brandt School win a European Solidarity Corps grant of 9.708,00 € with a score of 83/100!

Last semester a group of first-year students - conformed by Patricia Caparó, Nancy Apraez, María José Quirola, Lara Schüth and Anne-Christin Jelitte -, led by Dr. Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala, head of the Conflict Studies and Management Specialization at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, along with the help of local NGO, Culture Goes Europe (CGE)-Sociocultural initiative Erfurt, EV., applied with a project proposal to a grant from the European Solidarity Corps.

The project, called “Everyday Practical Peacebuilding”, aims to connect Brandt School students with the local community, putting in practice their experience and expertise to impact the social context in Erfurt, and Thüringen, where they are currently living. This experience will allow them to consolidate their careers in the field of peacebuilding, preventing indirect and direct violence in the global north and south, through a real project management experience, where the students will use their knowledge acquired in the “Conflict Studies and Management” specialization for practical purpose. As Nancy Apraez shared:

I am really excited to be part of this project. I think it would help us to mix theory of conflict resolution and practice in a fun way. I hope we get locals involved and that, as a group, we get to learn a lot.

With “Everyday Practical Peacebuilding”, the students seek to share an understanding of peace that goes beyond the absence of war and aims to foster encounters that allow individuals to humanise “the other” and build a community of youth peacebuilders in Erfurt and Thüringen. As noted by key NGOs in Erfurt, such as DaMigra, structural racism, xenophobia and right-wing motivated barriers and even attacks are present in our community. Given the current challenges of the city and region, the project will try to create spaces for people from different backgrounds, political beliefs and interests to connect with each other and see each other as equals, trying to prevent polarization.

The proposal received a very high score from the European Solidarity Corps, of 83 points out of the maximum of a 100, being rewarded with nearly 10 thousand euros for the realization of events in the field of Everyday Peacebuilding throughout a one-year period. Thus, the students will implement different activities, from academic events to more artistic interventions, through the year, from August 2023 to July 2024.

The team of international students that participated in the making of the proposal and who will implement the project havediverse personal and professional experiences, with each of them bringing their prior knowledge and particular motivations to the project, all with the common goal of engaging more in the local Erfurt community with practical, everyday peacebuilding methods. For the implementation of the project, the students will seek support of a wide range of NGOs and academics, to improve the reach of the activities and their impact.

“I am excited to be a part of this project because I believe everyday peacebuilding is essential to bringing people from different backgrounds together as a community” said Lara Schüth. “In my most recent job, I frequently had to work together with local non-profits to host events and manage projects, and I look forward to doing work like this again. There are some great NGO's here in Erfurt and the surrounding area which we are hoping to partner with over the coming year, and I hope we are able to make a lasting impact!”

Through our year of implementation, the project will aim to develop a Sustainable Structure, so the next generations of international students can profit from and continue this work. Thus, providing opportunities for international students in Erfurt that are frequently marginalized (socially, economically, linguistically, and beyond). Patricia Caparó added:

I am really looking forward to implementing the multiple ideas we have been brainstorming since applying for the grant, and seeing the impact that our project will have not only for the Willy Brandt School and the University, but for the broader community in Erfurt and Thüringen.

Keep an eye out for the activities that are to come from this wonderful, socially-relevant, project in Erfurt and Thüringen!


About the Author

Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala, PhD

Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala, PhD is a Research Associate and the head of the Conflict Studies and Management specialization at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy.

~ The views represented in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the Brandt School. ~