The Young Caritas Summer University took place from 3-8 September in Caorle, Italy and dealt with the very important topic populism. Furthermore, we also had the chance to meet young people from different countries and together we all shared our perspectives and opinions in different discussions and workshops.
Our journey started on 2nd September 2019. Jessica, Alex, Olivia, Caro, Laura and I started our adventure at the train station in Linz. The atmosphere was amazing and even though we just got to know each other, it felt like we’ve known each other for years. We took the night jet to Mestre, Venice and as soon as we boarded the train a fire alarm started blasting through the entire train. At this point, we really thought that bad luck is going to chase us on our journey but thankfully it turned out to be a false alarm.
After a bit of a hectic start, we got to our cabin and immediately fell asleep. When we woke up we had a nice breakfast and after that, we got of at our destination and met the other participants from Vienna. Together we got on a bus ride and eventually, during lunchtime, we reached the youngCaritas accommodation in Caorle.
Since we were the first ones to arrive we instantly packed our bag for the beach and enjoyed the beautiful weather. In the evening the participants from the other countries arrived and we all got to know each other by playing ice breaker questions. The participants were all very friendly and outgoing and it was very interesting to meet different people from other countries who share the same interests as you.
On the next day, our special guest Nina Horaczek, who is an Austrian journalist and author from the newspaper Falter held a speech about populism, explained their tactics and compared populists from different countries. The information she gave us was very interesting because she explained how populism works and explained to us the ideology behind „we“ and „the others“.
In the evening it was finally our time to work. We got divided into groups and started to talk about populism in our own countries and what topics populists usually address. After the presentations of our group work, we all headed to have dinner and then to the beach for a very deserved evening.
On Thursday Nina Horaczek gave us input on actual conservative tendencies and traditional gender roles. The intention was again to have a group work in the evening where we had to create our own populist. After every group had created their populist, Nina Horaczek hosted „Caorle TV“ where all the populists had the chance to present their party and convince the voters to vote for them. After all the participants had voted the winner was clear – of course, it was Italy, who tried to bribe the voters with pizza. Apparently it was a good strategy because it worked very well.
The next day came around and we were coming closer to the end of this adventure but that day was very exciting because we made a trip to Venice On 6. September was also the Young Caritas in Europe day, so everyone had a mini assignment which he had to complete. We had to make a populist statement and turn it into something positive. The groups had to make signs and take pictures with it. After arriving in Venice with a ferry we split into two groups and did a guided city tour. But with our luck, which we didn’t have at all on that day it started to rain very heavily. Nevertheless, the rain couldn’t stop us from completing our assignment. Venice is a really beautiful place with lots of history and good food.
On the two last days, we reflected on all the information and knowledge which was given to us and tried to think of what we could do against populism. Nick, from Luxembourg, gave us a very interesting input on how to be active and have more civil courage. In the evening we again had group works about different topics, such as the LGBT community, feminism, and violence against women, etc. On Sunday it was time to say goodbye. Before we all started to leave to go back home, we all sat down in a big circle with chairs and everyone had the chance to reflect on the last few days and say what we are going to take home with ourselves.
During that week we did not only learn important lessons from the group works or from Nina Horaczek but also from each other and every single one participant who is ready to do something against populism. I’m leaving that place not only with two hundred new pictures but also with many new friendships that I had the opportunity to built there.
I am extremely grateful to have been a part of this incredible journey and I would like to thank everyone from the YoungCaritas team, all the participants from all of the countries and Nina Horaczek for being there and expanding our knowledge on populism.