The cherry blossoms were ablaze through the beautiful north campus of Maynooth NUI for the inaugural NUI Certificate in Global Youth Work and Development Education graduation ceremony, on the 9th of April. It had been quite a journey to get to this date, the uncertainty of COVID 19 causing interruptions to plans made along the way. The certificate programme was launched in September 2020 with participants coming from a wide range of youth work backgrounds. There was a shared interest across all participants in being able to contextualise and understand local issues of poverty, injustice, and discrimination as broader global themes.
The class met online on Tuesday mornings and despite aspirations to meet in person, with the ongoing uncertainty of COVID, only one in person meeting on the Maynooth campus took place in October 2020. Working remotely was challenging, even frustrating at times, but it had many positive elements. It overcame geographic barriers with participants coming from the four corners of Ireland. It allowed participants to create synergies with other youth workers they might not usually work with, and to hear perspectives that they normally might not hear. It was also a space for solidarity and collective engagement during COVID 19.
Another focus of the programme was on strengthening the link between theory and practice. One participant stated that the programme “gave me the reassurance and confidence that my own skills and abilities in GYW practice are backed up by theory”, noting that her most significant change resulting from the programme was “the lighting of a passion for learning and curiosity”.
Participants had to keep a reflective journal, and they were asked to engage with the recommended literature and to demonstrate how their developing analysis was shaping and informing their real-life youth work practice. A huge strength of the programme was the youth practice shared amongst participants, keeping young people and issues of justice and inequality at the centre of the programme.
Despite the many challenges of the pandemic, along with the demands of juggling work and study, the programme had a 100% retention rate, with all 20 students completing the programme. The graduation celebration was an important way to mark the commitment to the programme and it too was impacted by COVID 19 health concerns. Arriving at the graduation day felt like an important moment of community, collaboration and, a celebration of global youth work as an approach that helps youth organisations to respond better to the needs of the young people they work with, all of whom are faced by the challenges and opportunities of living in a globalised and unequal world.
The programme is a collaboration between the Youth 2030 project at NYCI and the Department of Applied Social Studies, Maynooth University and is funded by Irish Aid.
If you are interested in accessing training with Youth 2030, please register your interest –Global Youth Work-Local to Global Training.