25 participants, 5 countries, 5 days. This year Kiev was the home of already the 8th annual Summer Academy. Young social democratic activists from Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have learned new skills in political ideology, campaigning, communication and debating as well as gaining enough confidence and knowledge to be able to repeat the training themselves.
The Summer Academy was organized by the British Labour Party, the Dutch Foundation Max van der Stoel, the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity and the local partners in Ukraine: the Institute for Democracy and Social Progress and the Social Democratic Platform. Participants from the five countries were selected from social democratic parties and social movements. Trainers Neil Fleming (UK Labour Party) and Channa Minke (FMS) facilitated the training together with local trainers Dmytro Duma and Snezhana Rakcheeva, both alumni of previous Summer Academy editions.
The training started with a presentation by each participant presenting their personalized ‘family weapon’, showing their favourite politician, previous training experience and favourite food. The following days, a range of topics were discussed. The program on Thursday was about social democratic ideology and the formulation of fitting policy proposals. Local trainer Dmytro explained the past, present and future of social democracy in Eastern Europe and also the participants gave input from their respective countries.
Friday began with theories about campaign strategy and analysis such as SWOT and SMART were discussed. Local trainer Snezhana then shared with the group what kind of communication methods there are: from traditional media to social media and a workshop was devoted to video production. Highlight of this day were the interviews the participants conducted. These were also filmed and later showed during a plenary feedback session.
Saturday morning it was time to work on the debating skills using the typically British format of ‘question time’. In four rounds the participants discussed topics such as health care, education, poverty and EU integration. Time in the afternoon was reserved for a tour through the historic center of Kiev. On Sunday the trainers and participants evaluated their work and concluded that it was a very successful training in which they all learned a lot and acquired new skills.
It was very inspiring to see how much energy these young activists have to work on change in their countries. You can find a short video in which four participants of the Summer Academy share their experience on Facebook.