Community of Practice:
Community of Hope!
What is the Community of Hope?
The Youth 2030 project at NYCI has been nurturing the evolution of an emergent Community of Practice (CoP) over the last four years of the project. Following two years of delivery of the NUI Global Youth Work and Development Education Certificate, 2019/20 and 2021/22, and within a wider context of programme development, youth workers have expressed the need for further engagement and the creation of a negotiated and consistent space to share, reflect and learn together.
Not all of these youth workers have participated in the Certificate, but all have a stated commitment to addressing social justice issues in their work. Moreover, all understand systemic inequality, how this is manifest as a local and global issue, and we all hope to change those systemic oppressions. This makes us the Community of Hope.
Youth workers offer a critical role in shaping transformative socially just outcomes in collaboration with young people. The empowerment model of youth work which involves raising critical consciousness is part of a response to addressing global issues that understands the world as interdependent. Youth workers therefore need spaces of collective engagement, informed by an anti-oppressive practice to develop the skills and knowledge to work towards understanding the nature of inequality and their role in challenging this.
As this group continues to evolve, and needs emerge, the value participants place on the domain is clear. When events are planned, either in person or remotely – members of this CoP continue to attend when available. Whilst membership criteria isn’t necessarily defined, those involved demonstrate a consistency both in terms of values and commitment to practice youth work in a way that is committed to challenging inequality and promoting consciousness raising through non-formal education.
How to be an Effective Disruptor
As part of a continued commitment to supporting youth workers in addressing and engaging issues of inequality, poverty and injustice in their work, the GYW team at the National Youth Council of Ireland, i.e. Youth 2030, hosted a summer school in June 2023.
‘How to be an Effective Disruptor’, was facilitated by Youth 2030, as the latest in a series of opportunities for a collective of youth workers to share experiences, question their practice, and to bring a critical gaze to their work as educators. The group was composed of 23 individuals, working within a variety of youth work contexts and representing a diversity of identities.
The programme was delivered across two days of workshops, with an introductory evening to support connection and a spirit of inquiry across the group. While many relationships already existed across this gathering, new connections had yet to be forged, and some connections were waiting to reignite and deepen.
Professor Momodou Sallah, a scholar-activist engaged in disruptive pedagogy, was engaged to co-facilitate the bootcamp, as someone who is interested in both bringing real life learning into the classroom and transformative learning within communities.
During this bootcamp, youth workers were invited to consider their positionality as educators, and to identify and step into their pedagogical approach in the work of challenging inequality as a local-global phenomenon. Understanding pedagogy as a core aspect of youth work is a critical part of a commitment to transformative outcomes. One that places emphasis on individual lived experiences as well as structures of injustice or inequity.
The youth workers who participated in this bootcamp are from diverse backgrounds and have their own socially constructed realities that shape their practice. Utilising an anti-oppressive framework is an attempt to bring to the surface much that often goes unsaid or remains unexamined in day-to-day practice. Accepting this as part of the work is aligned with an invitation to continue the ongoing work of centering, decentering and recentering.