The TOJ Bern NordOst team attended the 13th BOJA symposium in the Tyrolean mountain village of Alpbach. The team members had the opportunity to participate in a wide range of lectures and workshops at this nationwide open youth work symposium on the theme of “Open youth work as a place to learn”. As the symposium was also open to participants from neighbouring countries, the team enjoyed the chance to network with colleagues from Austria and the surrounding countries. The team shares their impressions of the congress.

The lecture on “Understanding and motivating young people: what can youth work learn from the social neurosciences?” provided insights from the field of neuroscience into a young person’s brain and the connections between living conditions, motivation, self-awareness and outside perceptions. The scientific view endorsed the day-to-day actions of the Bern NordOst team.

The lecture on “Educational potential of open youth work” presented different types of education and explored how these are linked to work in practice. Educational work as a dialogue, for example, means creating situations in which personal and other people’s views can be presented and explained. This represents an opportunity to call views and experiences into question while opening up alternative views. Through this process, youth workers provide educational potential when working at first hand with young people.

The “Young, radical, extreme!” workshop examined radical and/or extreme groups of youths and young adults and their influence on politics, the environment and, not least, youth work. Participants discussed how and when youth work has touch points with such groups and how this can be dealt with in practice.

The team greatly appreciated the networking opportunities afforded them at the symposium. The dialogue with other specialists was stimulating and inspiring with regard to the work in their own sphere. Certain topics were also discussed that the NordOst team is currently exploring, gaining new perspectives through the opinions shared at the event.

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