Kernels of our Future (3)
Since 2004, the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation (GAAEC) has been organizing one of the most innovative youth programs, "Kernels of Our Future". This year, under the direction of Dr. Aliki Mitsakos-Georgiou, Responsible for Education and Science within GAAEC, the organization hosted the third edition of this annual summer event for teenagers (aged 15-18), co-financed by the European Union as part of their Youth for Europe/Action 1 program, with the aim to teach them about the international community, conflict management and leadership.
"Kernels" is a unique three-week program, as it not only responds to the growing need of educating the next generation of leaders, but also offers the opportunity of international and intercultural learning and understanding.
This year, the young participants, coming from Hungary, Romania, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria, Denmark and the US, had the opportunity to take part in a new program component, "Leadership in Action".
Held in Athens on the 7th of July, “Leadership in Action” allowed the students to meet with leaders of today and discuss political and economic issues with them.
Students had the chance to visit the Parliament of the Hellenic Republic, to experience the daily work of the parliament and to meet with the PM of the New Democracy Party of Arcadia and member of GAAEC, Mr. Andreas Lykourentzou, as well as several young parliamentarians, which resulted in a productive meeting. Participants were able to meet with Dr. Marietta Giannakou, Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, and to ask her questions about the current educational system in Greece, as well as discuss the major problems that the public Greek education system is facing nowadays. In addition, students were received at the Town Hall by the Vice Mayor of Athens, Mrs. Katerina Watsabe.
The highlight of “Leadership in Action” was undoubtedly the special workshop "NATO, European Security and Greece in the 21st Century", held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This workshop included lectures by distinguished professors and experts such as Mrs. Ino Afentouli (Information Officer for Greece, NATO Public Diplomacy Division), Mr. Panayiotis Tsakonas (Aegean University), Mr. Athanasios Dokos (Director of |Studies, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy), Mr. Aristotelis Tziampiris (Lecturer, University of Pireus, Member of Educational Council, Institute of Democracy "K. Karamanlis"), and Mrs. Polina Lampsa (Political Scientist, Secretary of International Relations, PASOK), and was chaired by Mr. Theodossis Georgiou, Chaiman of GAAEC.
Consequently the students were honored to attend and participate in a lively discussion with the Secretary General of NATO, the Honorable Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The Kernels were enthusiastic about the privilege to share their thoughts, curiosities and doubts with the Secretary General. The Leadership in Action Program offered the students a broader dimension of politics and political-diplomatic life.
During their stay in Athens, the participants attended lectures on Greek Archeology, visited the Acropolis and its museum as well as the Olympic Installations, were treated to a bus tour around the city, and enjoyed traditional Greek food at a Monastiraki restaurant.
After Leadership in Action, the program moved to Chania, Crete. From July 9th till July 23rd this beautiful seaside town provided the ideal backdrop for an international and multicultural event such as Kernels of Our Future. In Chania participants stayed on the campus of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh), where most of the activities took place.
Professors included Dr. Fabrizio Luciolli, Secretary General of the Comitato Atlantico, Professor Zehra Odyakmaz from Ankara University, Professor Peter Trummer of the State Institute for Civic Education in Baden-Stuttgart, and Mrs. Jessica Teague, Lecturer at Georgetown University of Washington DC.
The lectures covered a wide range of contemporary issues, including among the others classes on political philosophy, economics, and the role of international institutions and organizations in the contemporary world. The participants had the opportunity to discuss gender and security issues and environmental and human rights challenges, and to find and share common historical heritage. Thus, a variety of topics was addressed, in an international and open atmosphere. In addition to this, the Kernels visited significant Cretan archeological sites such as Heraklion and Knossos.
Apart from the lectures, students had the chance to participate in simulation games, including a simulation on Israel-Lebanon crisis, turning theoretical bases on conflict management into practical use. Athletic championship games and other entertaining events, such as the country presentation night, were organized in order for the participants to get to know each other.
At the end of the program all participants took a final examination and were awarded with certificates during a grand graduation ceremony. After three weeks they left for their home countries enriched, not just by the knowledge and skills acquired but also by the intercultural experience, proud of their achievements and of their contribution to this unique international phenomenon of leadership education.
International Educational Program “Kernels of Our Future 2008”, took place from the 8th to the 24th of July in Chania, Crete and Athens. The 2008 session was very special, as it was the 5th Anniversary of the program and the special programme “Leadership in practice” was held parallel to the main event.
“Kernels of Our Future” program was organized by G.A.A.E.C., in cooperation with Bulgarian Euro Atlantic Education Initiative, Hungarian Atlantic Council, State Institute for Civil Education of Germany, Atlantic Council of Turkey, EURISC Foundation, The Fund for American Studies, and Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania.
Throughout the 17 days of the program around 40 teenagers from all over the world attended lectures, participated in workshops, simulations and lively debates about these main topics: The function of International Institutions (United Nations, European Union, NATO, etc.); Human Rights; Gender Issues; The Art of Conflict management; Civil Society and Its Contemporary Role; Microeconomics and Trading; Media Techniques; Development of Intellectual and Social Skills for Personal Leadership; Relationship Networking; How to exploit the spirit of common values using the foundation of history; Perspectives in career orientation. The lectures were given by Dr. Aliki Mitsakos, Chairperson of the Committee of Education and Science of G.A.A.E.C. and the founder of this program; Mrs. Avgustina Tzvetkova, President of Euro-Atlantic Education Initiative of Bulgaria; Mrs. Jessica Townsend Teague, faculty member of the Fund for American Studies’ Institute on Business and Government Affairs at Georgetown University USA; Prof. Zehra Odyakmaz, professor of Administrative Law, Turkey. Also Kernels’ participants had an opportunity to attend lectures and workshops offered by visiting professors and guest lecturers: Dr. Michael J. Collins from Georgetown University, USA; Stefano Pilotto from University of Trieste, Italy; René Repasi from University of Heidelberg, Germany; Dr. Stefanos Gialamas, President of the American Community Schools of Athens, Greece; Dr. Sofia Hilentzaris, business management professor from Greece; Michelle Jeffress, Director of International programs of the Fund for American Studies, USA.
The program was created on the basis of “non-formal learning” and on continuous feedback between participants and instructors of the program, what made all the classes very creative and interactive. Students participated in the North Atlantic Council simulation, conducted by Mrs. Barbora Maronkova, from Public Diplomacy Division of NATO.Moreover they were all involved in the simulation on Climate, and also learned about Media Techniques and Photography with Mr. Statul Karabashev, journalist from Bulgaria.
Furthermore, the Kernels participants also had other interesting activities: excursions to surrounding sites and to Knossos (the birthplace of Europe), trip to the national hero’s, E. Venizelos, grave; intercultural role-plays; sport championships (tennis, football, basketball, etc.); movie screenings; going to the beach and having fun together at country parties almost every evening, making every minute enjoyable andexciting.
As it was the 5th Anniversary of the program, a special program “Leadership in Practice” was set up for this occasion and alumni reunion was held on 15-24 July, 2008. The program started in Chania, Crete, where participants were able to join IIPES students for the lectures by Prof. Frank Ambrosio and Prof. Michael Collins from Georgetown University. Alumni also participated in the International Politics simulation game. Moreover, they participated in cultural program, country presentations and were given free time in Chania. On Sunday, July 20th both alumni and Kernels’ participants left for Athens. They had a chance to visit Acropolis and learn about Ancient History by Mrs. Nikolis, archeologist, as well as to have a bus tour around Athens, including the Olympic installations. Participants of the program also visited Parliament of the Hellenic Parliament, and were given the opportunity to meet the president of the Parliament Mr. Sioufas, as well as Vice Minister of Education Mr. Lykourentzos. Mr. Nikitas Kaklamanis, the Mayor of Athens, also met with the young leaders in Athens Town Hall. Visits to the National Radio-Television Company and General Secretariat of Information and Press were also included in the program. During the last day, they had relationship networking workshop by Prof. J. Teague. The graduation ceremony of the 5th edition of Kernels took place in the prestigious Officers’ Club in Athens with the presence of the representatives of the embassies of the countries involved.
The “Kernels of our Future” is an original international, educational summer program for young leaders aged 15-18 years. The Kernels program was established in 2004 by The Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation, under the Direction of Prof. Dr. Aliki Mitsakos, M.D., Ph.D.
The participants of the program are young people, aged from 15 to 18, from a variety of countries (this year’s program saw delegations from Greece, Palestine, Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria and the United States) who distinguished themselves to make a positive contribution to the future society, to educate them on broader citizenship and help develop trust and understanding among the next generation of leaders. It is the only such program ever developed on an international scale.
The program took place this summer from July 19 to August 5 on the University campus of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania in Crete and Athens for the sixth time, and brought together 25 students from 6 nations.
The program consists of a series of activities and games destined not only to promote their personal development but also to entertain them and guarantee that they will have a great time and make good friendships. Besides an important personal development, the chosen activities activate leadership skills as well as provide the Kernels with valuable knowledge on international relations and organizations, conflict resolution, their contribution to the civil society, Democracy and relevant contemporary issues. The way to achieve these goals is through lectures, debates, informal games and activities, simulations, cultural trips, sport practices, and a valuable constant interaction among them within an international context.
The lectures, integrated as a part of the informal education, are administrated both by organization members and international guest speakers specialized in a diversity of fields. This year, the Kernels of our Future had the opportunity to be lectured on International Organizations, with a particular relevance on NATO, the U.N. and the E.U. Following the initial insight on these International Institutions by Prof. Zehra Odyakmaz from Turkey, they initiated their learning of basic concepts of public law and constitutional law.
In a special “NATO days” session, they were introduced to the topic of NATO and its operations by guest lecturer Barbora Maronkova from the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, who then challenged the students to a simulation about NATO’s New Strategic Concept
Furthermore, the Kernels received lessons on the role of the Civil Society, the importance of Human Rights and Gender Equality by program director and founder Prof. Dr. Aliki Mitsakos . Additionally there were a series of lectures covering many other topics such as Political systems, International security, “The Good Society” by guest speaker Prof. Michael Collins and a simulation game on Politics, Business and Environment.
In a simulation game conducted by Prof. Rene Repasi from Germany, the Kernels engaged in a very interesting and passionate debate on the challenges facing the globalization and carbon trade, taking the different roles of countries and businesses.
The highly level of expertise of the speakers and the interactive learning environment, accompanied with multimedia presentations, videos, games and encouraging constant interventions, made these lectures much more valuable and interesting for the Kernels than the formal day-to-day education.
Together with the lectures, the Kernels also engaged on a number of debates, both on the issues discussed on the lectures as well as topics of their personal interests. These discussions, such as the “Full moon night owl discussion” taking place in a more informal environment, gave the students a free environment for expressing their opinions also outside of the classroom setting.
Regarding the informal games and activities, they provided the Kernels with a great a way to discover their potentials and develop their skills, through a fun and relaxed environment, followed by reflections on what they have accomplished with the exercises.
The practice of sport activities in an international context also contributed to these purposes. The healthy competitions that the Kernels engaged with team mates from different nationalities made these competitions to be embedded of the Olympic spirit. They learn how to act as a team, to manage their different perceptions and to interact together with people from diverse cultures.
After fulfilling days of lectures, games and sports usually at night the Kernels organized thematic parties divided by each delegation where they share their cultural habits, food and music with the each other, offering a good way for them to taste specialties from different countries as to know the other’s social habits.
In addition to these activities the participants still had the possibility to enjoy Cultural Trips on the Island of Crete, visiting archeological sites, like the Therisso gorge and visiting museums and sightseeing in the city of Chania. All these trips were preceded by detailed explanations on the importance and history of each location. Also a more relaxing component was not forgotten and the students enjoyed trips to the local beaches, including a trip to the famous Stavros beach where the movie “Zorba, the Greek” was filmed. The screening of the movie is a tradition in Kernels of our future and could not be left out this year.
Although the cultural interaction is present throughout the program, it was strongly enforced with a cultural presentation night where each delegation had the opportunity to present their country and culture in the way they feel that represents them best. The creativity and commitment that the participants demonstrate in these presentations was truly amazing.
After a session of examination and Evaluation of the academic part in Chania, The Kernels and Alumni traveled to Athens for a special program were they had the honor to be a guest in the Parliament and visit the Town Hall as well as the Presidential Palace. They also had the great opportunity to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where a staff member of the Ministry gave them an insight of the work of a diplomat and then answered different questions from the young people. Additionally The Kernels made a visit to the the offices of Kathimerini Newspaper and Skai Television. Of course there was also the opportunity to discover the beauty of Athens, modern and ancient. The Kernels went to see the Acropolis, visited the districts of Plaka and Monastiraki and spent a very interesting afternoon in the New Acropolis Museum.
A very pleasant commencement ceremony marked the end of the program, during which the Kernels were awarded participations diplomas and the “Outstanding Alumnus” award was presented to Mr. Nikolay Kolev from Bulgaria, who has shown his enthusiasm for the program by continually supporting and developing the Kernels idea as an Alumnus and participating every year since being a “Kernel” for the first time in 2005.
The Kernels of our Future 2010 would like to thank their Partners, Sponsors and Donors for their kind and generous support of the program and its mission to build a world of greater tolerance and understanding through educating the future generation. Without their help, this program would not be possible.