The ICLS helped me develop a confidence to pursue my own goals, and to develop relationships with people who came from different backgrounds and cultures. I collaborated with friends made at the seminar to do community projects using film and photography with Muslim and non-Muslim children. This idea was developed and taken to Pakistan where we worked with UNICEF to help children affected by the earthquake communicate priorities for rebuilding to the Government. Their work was officially recognised by the President. This format went on to be used by UNICEF in countries across the world.
Before ICLS, I was not aware of how many likeminded youths there were out there. I often felt alone, odd at best, giving up my free time for politics or community matters. Now I have a network of people who I can sound off ideas to and consider to be really good friends. I have finally found a space where I can interact with others who were interested in the same things and where we could discuss issues and learn about each other in a constructive way.
Before getting involved with the ICLS, I was looking for some new direction in life. I was attending classes to get accepted into college but I was not sure what I was going to do except that it had to be something with people.
Since ICLS, my outlook and direction on life has changed – I think that the biggest change came from opening my mouth at social gatherings. By letting my voice be heard instead of being part of the silent majority. During the seminar I grew a lot, it felt like my eyes were opened and the future was filled with possibilities.
There were some very difficult moments on the seminar but it was a safe environment. It made a very big difference that it was a residential, as it gave us the chance to really get to know each other well. Following the seminar, a group of us got involved in a project with the West Yorkshire police to run something similar to the ICLS seminar for teenagers in Bradford from different backgrounds. Seeing the impact of the experience we created in partnership with the police on this group of young people was really uplifting. This wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the ICLS.
The ICLS seminar opened up opportunities for me to improve my networks and follow my dream of working on projects based around community development and empowerment.
I was inspired to study for an MA in Conflict Resolution by talking to participants at a seminar and have since worked with the ICLS to deliver seminars across the U.K and Continental Europe.
The students engaged in your groups thoroughly enjoyed it. The all increased in confidence from the sessions and I am sure they felt more empowered. We had other girls enquiring about joining the sessions because they had been talking about the sessions in friendship groups. Although I didn’t come in to the sessions, I could see (through our window) that the girls were engaged and happy to be there. The activities that they were participating in were relevant and necessary to support them with their transition into young adults. Some of the work is still up on the walls!
Your organisation was excellent. Always prepared for the sessions and notifying in advance if you needed anything arranging (such as photocopying). Your approach with the students was brilliant. They felt relaxed and able to speak openly with you.