Many Islands, One Community: Perspectives from our Partnership

A vital part of the Islanders project is the sharing of perspectives and experiences from our partnership across Europe, building connections and sharing knowledge. While the geographically diverse locations have many differences, we have found lots of commonalities in our work with young people. As part of our webinar series, partners presented their diverse projects, allowing us to learn from each other as we build our transnational community. Here, each partner reflects on the connections and contrasts discovered so far.

Prisms, Malta: Art, Culture and Heritage for Young People

As the largest island in our project, and the only one a nation in itself, Malta has great connectivity and an established cultural infrastructure. In this context, Prisms works to engage young people through a range of community activities, aiming to highlight Malta’s rich cultural heritage. The organisation is currently involved in the “Professional Media Presence” project, which emphasises the importance of Maltese cultural heritage. As Vesna Matic Karic describes:

Maltese’s rich cultural heritage […] means a lot to all of us. In this project, we have some really talented young artists who are very passionate about their Island and are willing to promote it in their art. This project not only allows these young artists to showcase their talents but also plays a crucial role in preserving and promoting Malta’s cultural identity.

Vesna Matic Karic, Prisms

Alongside cultural preservation and promotion, Prisms works to support young individuals from challenging backgrounds. The reopening of a Youth Centre in San Gwann represented their commitment to creating inclusive and supportive environments for youth. The centre hosts a variety of activities, including kayaking, water games, barbecues, and attending concerts, which are essential in fostering a sense of community and belonging among the youth. Prisms offers opportunities for personal and professional development through projects like “Different Drum,” where young people engage in one-on-one and group mentoring. Participants are also encouraged to learn project writing and office skills, further enhancing their employability and personal growth.

By exposing our young people to different environments, they will not just be able to learn more, but also to discover what they like to do and what not. These are just some of the things that we are doing, but there are much more.

Vesna Matic Karic, Prisms

Prisms’ work with Islanders reflects a shared commitment to working with young people, underscoring the value of international partnerships in enhancing youth engagement and learning opportunities.

Muhu Noortekeskus, Estonia: Celebrating Community, Tradition and Innovation

Muhu Island, representing Estonia in this project, shares many similarities with its partners, particularly in its commitment to youth engagement and community development. The island confronts issues common to many island communities, such as the necessity for young people to leave for higher education and the limited availability of career paths and extracurricular activities locally. Despite these challenges, Muhu Noortekeskus works to offer its young people a range of options for activity, motivated by a strong sense of community. Virtual reality equipment, a gym, and a fully equipped sound study are some of the resources for them to experiment with and enjoy.

A striking feature of Muhu is its use of local resources and traditions in innovative ways. The island is known for its distinctive use of reed, not just as a material for crafting but also architecturally, in roofing. This contrasts with places like Kimolos, where reed is used primarily indoors, highlighting the diversity of traditional practices across these island communities.

The continuity of traditions and local customs is particularly valued in Muhu. The island has faced significant challenges in preserving its cultural heritage, especially considering the impacts of the Soviet era, which saw a considerable loss of local culture and heritage. Efforts to rediscover and revitalise these traditions are central to Muhu’s community identity, and reflections on identity and cultural practices are central to our project’s approach.

We sometimes need to rediscover who we are and why we do the things, how we do them.

Liia Ots, Muhu Noortekeskus

Muhu’s experiences with the Islanders project have fostered a broader perspective on shared challenges and solutions among island communities. The project has illuminated the similarities in challenges faced by islanders, from logistical issues like transportation to broader socioeconomic impacts of tourism. Muhu’s participation in the project has not only highlighted the commonalities with other islands but also the unique ways in which these communities navigate their specific circumstances.

Kimolistes, Greece: Comminty Growth through Creativity

Kimolistes, representing the Greek island of Kimolos in the Islanders project, works through collaborative efforts to address the unique challenges and opportunities facing island communities. Through their participation, Kimolistes has highlighted the importance of connection, creativity, and cultural preservation in fostering youth engagement and community development.

The team from Kimolistes has been particularly impressed by the diverse approaches and solutions implemented by their project partners. This exposure has led to a valuable exchange of ideas and strategies, enhancing their own community initiatives.

The other partners have been involved with many projects and they have acquired valuable knowledge which is being invested in the community.

Agatha Rodi, Kimolistes

A key aspect of Kimolistes’ strategy is leveraging the creative potential of young people to integrate cultural heritage preservation with contemporary community needs. This approach not only aims to safeguard traditional practices but also to ensure their relevance in today’s society. By embracing creativity, Kimolistes seeks to empower young individuals to contribute meaningfully to their community, ensuring a vibrant and sustainable future for the island.

Collaboration with other islands has been particularly fruitful. Kimolistes has found common ground in shared crafts and youth exchange projects, leading to a “profitable exchange of ideas” that benefits all parties involved. This synergy between islands enhances the effectiveness of their efforts, showcasing the power of collective action in overcoming the inherent challenges of island life.

The Islanders project has provided Kimolistes with critical insights and inspirations, enabling them to adopt and adapt strategies that improve the integration of young people within their community.

Being part of the Islanders project has provided the chance for us to have a lot to think about and incorporate into our course of action.

Agatha Rodi, Kimolistes

Ajiter (Portugal): Navigating Geographical Challenges with Innovative Solutions

Ajiter, representing Terceira Island in the Azores, Portugal, has brought to the Islanders project a unique perspective on overcoming the geographical and social hurdles inherent to island life. They foreground the necessity of innovative and adaptable solutions to address the specific needs of their community, particularly focusing on young people.

The geographical isolation of Terceira presents both challenges and opportunities. Ajiter observed how islands, despite facing similar issues, adopt varied approaches to these challenges, highlighting the importance of context-specific strategies.

It was very interesting to discover how people who face the same obstacles, mainly geographical and social, can tackle them in both different and similar ways.

Antónia Borba, Ajiter

One of the key insights from their participation is the impact of geographical location on the lives of young people. Ajiter has leveraged this project to not only showcase their innovative approaches to engaging youth but also to learn from the experiences and strategies of our partners. This exchange of knowledge has been instrumental in refining their initiatives, ensuring they are both effective and responsive to the changing needs of their community.

A particular concern for Ajiter is the need to balance the benefits and drawbacks of tourism, recognising the need for a sustainable approach that supports economic growth without compromising the well-being of the island’s residents or its natural environment. This nuanced understanding of tourism reflects a broader commitment to developing solutions that are sustainable, equitable, and inclusive. Read more on sustainable tourism here: LINK

The Islanders project has also provided Ajiter with a platform to highlight the significance of their work and its impact on the young people of Terceira in relation to the shared experiences of our partnership.

With this project, we gained the perception that in fact our geographical location (being islanders) can have an impact on some aspects of the lives of young people.

Antónia Borba, Ajiter

By interweaving the diverse experiences, challenges, and strategies of island communities from Malta, Estonia, Greece, and Portugal, our partnership contributes to a broader understanding of how place and culture are intertwined, and shape the opportunities and obstacles faced by young people. The project highlights the importance of community, tradition, and innovation in fostering resilience and growth. It demonstrates that, despite the contrasts, there is a profound connection in the shared goal of enhancing the lives of young people in island communities. By building their collective insights and experiences, these communities both address immediate challenges and look forward to more sustainable futures. Our partnership represents the power of collaboration and creativity in creating these futures, paving the way for a more interconnected and supportive community of islands across Europe.

Web Design SkiptonWeb Developer Skipton

Copyright 2024. All Rights Reserved