YPAN now comprises around 120 young volunteers in and outside Europe. The Eichstätt working group explained this year’s decision with the argument that these young people, who identify as so-called peacemakers, embodied the values of AK Shalom in a special way.
"Education is our tool to bring about peaceful change. We want to create safe spaces and support young people in developing a culture of peace", explained Nevena Radosavljević, representative of the award winners' network. Together with two other YPAN members, she accepted the Shalom Prize in the Holzersaal at the KU. Time and again, she reported, the young "Peace Ambassadors" operate in regions struck by conflicts where the fronts between people are hardened and "the others" are labeled as "the bad guys". "It is not our goal to resolve the conflict from one day to the next. For us, it's about enabling all sides to see the human being in the other, that is, their stories, needs, feelings and fears", says the young peacemaker. She emphasized that receiving the Eichstätt human rights award showed them that they were not alone in their efforts to establish a culture of peace.
As patron of the Shalom campaign, the mayor of Eichstätt Josef Grienberger emphasized the special value of civic engagement in his speech. As the war in Europe has shown, prosperity, peace and freedom cannot be taken for granted: "We are called upon as human beings to fight for this", he appealed to the guests at the awards ceremony.
The KU was particularly concerned with taking on purposeful responsibility, emphasized the Vice President for International Affairs and Profile Development, Prof. Dr. Klaus Stüwe, who greeted the guests on behalf of the University Management. He said, the Shalom working group embodied this mission of the KU in an ideal way: "We are proud that one of the most important human rights prizes in Germany is being awarded here with us." In addition, the political scientist praised the important work of the award winner’s project. He emphasized that the activists at YPAN understood the fundamental value of education for democracy, justice and peace.
Dr. Gerhard Rott, head of the department for the universal church at the Diocese of Eichstätt, also spoke a word of greeting. The diocese is one of the most important donors to the annual Shalom campaign. Dr. Rott underlined the department’s long-standing non-material and financial support of the human rights award. He affirmed that peace had to be understood and approached beyond the boundaries of denominations and religions.
In his laudatory speech, Daniel Comte, a long-time friend of the award-winning network, described how much young people benefit from the YPAN trainings. Training in conflict transformation, nonviolent communication, and community building inspired them to work toward a peaceful society. For the musical framework of the award ceremony, the ensemble Divertissimo played under the direction of Alexander Koch.
On the eve of the award ceremony, the Shalom working group had organized a "Concert for Peace" together with the University Music department of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. The "Wedding-Duo", the "Trio de Jazzero", the chamber choir of the KU under the direction of Nico Schneidereit and the duo "Timea&Leon" presented a colorful musical program on the theme of "Peace" in the presence of the YPAN members who had come to give insight into their work. The donations collected at the concert will be given to the Shalom working group.
The Shalom Prize is one of the highest value human rights awards in Germany. The surrounding work is purely voluntary. All donations directly benefit the projects without deductions for administrative costs. Donations can still be made until the end of January 2023. More information is available at www.ak-shalom.com.