174 young people from 14 different countries are gathered in Flekke, a small town on the western part of Norway this week. This is part of preparing them to go on exchange, to live and work in a different country and a completely new environment. They are already half-way through a busy week. A series of lectures, workshops and activities aims to give them the ability to seize the opportunities and resilience to handle the challenges that lie ahead. A special emphasis is put is leadership; being able to take on responsibility and to guide others – during and after the exchange.

“Their curiosity is one of the biggest strengths of young people in leadership,” said speaker Marte Solberg. Marte held Wednesday’s seminar titled ‘Youth Leadership.’ In addition to this being the the central focus of Youth Camp, it is also a core guiding principle for FK Norway in general.

Curious Minds and Critical Perspectives

“Youth can play a huge role in challenging the status quo,” said Marte. “I think it’s essential to include young people in order to move forward and engage people in the civil societies that are trying to find ways to do things differently.”

Speaker Marte Solberg during seminar on Youth Leadership

Marte brings a unique set of perspectives and views to the seminar. As both a former FK-exchange participant and advisor in the field of leadership development, she has personal experience and expert knowledge on youth leadership.

This also means she has substantial insight into and understanding of the problems the participants may run into.

“A challenge is the lack of recognition of young people; that they’re not experienced enough,” she said. “But there’s also an issue of gender, the recognition of women as leaders.”

Learning to see things differently

But although young people often already have valuable ideas and can contribute with new solutions, one of the biggest benefits from going on exchange is being able to live in a new environment; experiencing a different reality and gaining new perspectives. To create a more just world, we need leaders who have the insights that come from those kinds of experiences.

“Programmes like these help us learn more about other cultures, other peoples’ perceptions, believes and values,” said Youth Camp participant Manish Dhungel. “I think these things are important for a leader.”

Exchange participant Manish Dhungel from Nepal will work and live in Tanzania

Manish is one of the participants of Youth Camp and is getting ready to travel from his home-country Nepal to work in Tanzania with Raleigh International. He will be working with different communities, learning to create campaigns and work for social change in a variety of different situations. This is knowledge he will bring with when he return home to Nepal.

“In our country, more than half the population is young,” he said. “It is important that young people learn about the repercussions of their own actions towards their community, each other and the world.”

Manish said that he gained some surprising new insights already on the first day of Youth Camp, when they discussed the way African countries are viewed in other countries, such as Nepal.

“I found it very interesting that people don’t always know how they are perceived,” said Manish. “I realized I have to be in Africa to understand Africa.”