YES 2022

27 June – 01 July 2022

What is the YES?

The Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES) is a yearly event hosted by Youth For Understanding, which gathers more than 100 volunteers and 400 students who get the chance to learn about active citizenship and topics of Global interest, but also to talk about their exchange experience with the volunteers and the other students.

The YES aims to empower participants to effectively expand upon learnings gained through exchange programmes or other intercultural experiences, while connecting with the global YFU community, and thus become proactive and globally-oriented agents of change.

YES 2022 will take place in person, in Werbellinsee, Germany.

YES 2022 Theme – Claim Your Digital Space

There are 4.88 billion active internet users, making up nearly 62% of the world’s population. We learn online, meet new people, maintain relationships, entertain ourselves, and access information—all with a few clicks. But these opportunities also bring significant challenges and concerns.

It’s now widely recognized that social media has a negative impact on the wellbeing and mental health of young people. Information, while more accessible than ever, needs to be constantly verified and fact-checked, given the flood of fake news, alternative facts, and conspiracy theories spreading online. Social interactions are fundamentally changing, and many are finding it challenging to navigate between their online and offline lives. At the same time, large corporations are steadily embracing the practices of “surveillance capitalism,” selling our personal data for profit.

It is up to us to figure out how to make the internet friendlier, safer, and more inclusive. There are a few questions we could try to answer:

  • How can you protect your privacy when every platform or app demands access to your personal data?
  • How do you shape informed opinions and arguments when the media is full of unverified content?
  • How can the internet be used to foster 21st century skills such as adaptability, cross-cultural communication, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence?
  • How can you use your own exchange experiences to influence your immediate environment, inspire civil society, and create positive change?

At the YES 2022, we will address these and many more questions, as we look at the different aspects of making the digital space yours. And for the first time since 2019, we’ll be returning to the familiar environment of Werbellinsee, Germany, for the event.

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Tracks at the YES

The Internet offers a wealth of opportunities for socializing and finding like-minded people. Looking to stay in touch with your middle school friends? Log onto Facebook. Interested in showing off your gym routine or vacation photos? Post them on Instagram. In the mood for a last-minute dinner date? Swipe through some Tinder profiles. And the list continues! Yet, every option comes with its own set of concerns. Whether we’re looking for a best friend, study partner, or long-term relationship, we share a lot of personal data without always understanding how it is used.

“If you are not paying for it, you are the product” – read one of the earliest Forbes articles on Privacy Policy and Customer Tracking. In today’s world, data harvesting via social media is no longer a secret. To counteract these trends, more actors than ever before are taking action. Examples include the strict GDPR policy imposed by the European Union on anyone handling the personal data of EU citizens or the European Parliament’s proposals to combat illegal content and hold social media platforms responsible for their algorithms and content moderation.

But how can individuals protect their private data on the internet and avoid disclosing all of their personal information online? If you want to find out how to navigate the internet both safely and effectively, as well as share your insights with fellow YES participants, this track is for you!

In the post-truth era, facts and objective truth are no longer at the heart of policymaking and social relations. Even though it sounds frightening, this is a very real phenomenon of our times. To counter it, we all must do our fair share in helping those around us to stay rational and rely on science.

As social media algorithms close people in information bubbles, it becomes increasingly difficult to escape an extremist or a conspiracy rabbit hole once you’re inside one. Nevertheless, there are several principles and golden guidelines you can follow when researching a topic to locate reliable sources and verify the information you find. On the one hand, an individual must have at least a small level of curiosity to consider scenarios that don’t reinforce their cognitive bias. On the other hand, contrary to popular belief, identifying and countering fake news is not rocket science. With a bit of effort, anyone can burst the misinformation bubble around them!

If you’d like to learn more about factors that drive modern news media and gain practical skills in assessing the value of the information you receive, this is the track for you!

New technologies have revolutionized our world in many ways. Just a few decades ago, the invention known as the personal computer (PC) was a novelty item. These days, they’re everywhere, and even our smartphones are powerful, portable computers. We’ve barely been using the World Wide Web for 30 years – now, we have endless cat videos and make-up tutorials, Big Data, and the Internet of Things. The progress we’ve made by 2022 is mind-blowing, so how can we begin to imagine what the world will look like in 2072?

With the spread of COVID-19, we’ve had to accelerate technological advancements even more, although we should keep in mind that the major game-changers were already in place well before the pandemic. The endless possibilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and Virtual Reality (VR) have been gaining increasing traction for years. Language learning apps like Duolingo, Augmented Reality environments such as Pokémon GO, and innovative e-learning courses are just a few examples of the already widespread applications of modern technology.

What effect will the latest inventions have on the future of work and education? What knowledge, skills, and abilities will be necessary for the digital age? How will we work or study in the decades to come? If you want to embark on an imaginative journey into the future, this is the track for you!

“Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder,” says a popular proverb. The same is true of appreciating and valuing different forms of art – whether it’s painting, sculpture, music, theatre, or literature. In this day and age, anyone can become an art critic from the comfort of their own home as technological advances make art more accessible than ever before. There is no need for you to visit a museum or gallery to experience it.

Applications such as Google Arts & Culture, for example, let you see world-famous masterpieces directly on your screen. Through virtual tours, you can appreciate the wonders of human creation with just a few clicks. But what does it mean to be an artist in the age of computers and digital tools? How have the means of expression changed, and how does a modern artist adapt to them? How to stay creative when it seems like everything already exists online? And what’s the whole deal with NFTs?!

Supported by the Creative Europe project, we invite young artists and creative minds to join us on an adventure, where digitalization and artistic expression intersect. Join this track to engage in the discovery of art through digital tools, and think of new ways of creating and appreciating it!

YES 2022 Core Team

Photo of Christian

Christian Vasile

Content Team Leader

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Petra Pajala

YES Host

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Matei Scarlatescu

YES Host

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Marta Bednarczyk

Senior Education Team Leader

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Abril Villafane

Junior Education Team Leader

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Ieva Dirvonskaite

Logistics Team Leader

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Kevin Kattrup

IGL Coordinator

Photo of Sanziana

Sanziana Ene

IGL Coordinator

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Andreea Madar

Project Coordinator

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Zuza Nowak

Community Coordinator

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Kinga Sliwinska

Community Coordinator

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Hanna Klein

Operations Coordinator

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Hilde Stouten

Operations Coordinator

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Riikka Pasanen

Head of Track

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Sin Riz a Porta

Head of Track

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Inese Bosa

Head of Track

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Botond Kovago-Laska

Head of Track

Marie-Louise Kristensen

Marie-Louise Kristensen

Travel Coordinator

Alin Scarlat

Alin Scarlat

Travel Coordinator

Recent posts

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How to Choose the Right Track for You

This year’s YES theme is “Claim Your Digital Space”. In a world where everything moved online in the last two years, we were forced to learn how to be more dependent on the Internet and use it in our everyday life (for school, university, work, and even social life). The…
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Looking for a guest speaker for the YES 2022

We're looking for a guest speaker to come and present at the YES 2022 in Germany
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The YES is getting a new name

It started with The Year End Seminar, continued with the Young Europeans' Seminar, and now... a new name for an event that's been running solid for over 30 years.

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