First-generation YPAN junior trainers — testimonials

Youth Peace Ambassadors
5 min readOct 19, 2022

Anna

Attending as a Junior Trainer in Kosovo training on Emotional Literacy, was really unique and fruitful.

Facilitating big groups wasn’t really in my comfort zone, but thankfully the team of trainers was guiding me a lot and their trust helped me a ton!

From the first moment, I felt included in the process. I could see what the schedule will look like, participate in the meetings of trainers and there was a lot of space for me to use my knowledge, take on time from sessions and most importantly express myself within the small group of trainers. For me these moments of reflection, listening and being heard is crucial.

At the same time working on this specific topic of emotional literacy and conflict transformation in a city affected by the conflict itself was a sort of life-changing experience.

I could witness how the stories being told and the activities around them could change people’s discussions and mindsets. I felt that what I do and where I am is really important and somehow re-affirmed how this work is also important to me and fills my life with meaning.

By being a trainer -even a junior one!- I’m able to put most of my skills into action and this is really exciting!

From organizing & analyzing, reflecting, brainstorming, learning, facilitating, being creative, philosophizing :)… and at the same time working with topics that I care about and find extremely vital.

Back to challenges. As a person who thrives in small groups of people, I find big groups challenging. I had difficulty adjusting to the role of a Junior Trainer. Asking myself, where is my place? Is it with participants? with trainers? What are my limits? This brought me into conflict with myself. I understand that this is a process, which I need to check and find where and how I feel more comfortable.

Since some or all the activities run by the Junior trainer don’t belong to them, early organization and planning part of the activities can support the junior trainer in having plenty of time to reflect and adjust everything in their own ways.

I really believe that by ensuring opportunities for open communication and building trust and safety within the trainer's group there is a better chance of satisfying the need for support and connection. I felt really lucky to be able to have moments of deep discussions, self-expression and authenticity to bring to the surface challenges in moments of difficulty.

Grateful for the trust. See you soon!

Erion

This summer I had my first experience as a junior trainer as part of the Pool of Trainers initiative by the Youth Peace Ambassadors Network.

I took part in “SEED. TREE. FOREST” — a training course on conflict transformation, which was held in the north of Kosovo, in a town called Zvecan.

Before this, I had experience in facilitating only short meetings. During the project, I had a chance to co-lead sessions such as Team Building, Finding Common Ground and Non-Violent Communication.

My responsibilities as a junior trainer also included some parts of logistics and coordination such as helping the participants with their travel and accommodation, answering any questions regarding their stay during the project and leading reflection groups. This whole experience really boosted my confidence. Now I not only know how to facilitate sessions in a better way, but I also have a deeper insight into the work that goes into organising such projects.

Here goes my advice to future junior trainers: ask more questions and take more initiative! These two really helped me to be more actively involved in the project. I got all my questions answered by the trainers during the whole project and thank you for that.

And a bit of advice for the future senior trainers: I believe, including a junior trainer in project writing could be helpful and crucial experience as they will gain more understanding about the project, its objectives and goals, and decide how exactly they can contribute during the sessions, including drafting out responsibilities in advance.

Alessio

“Hey, why don’t you come as a trainer in “Act Peace”, next month ?”

When Rami asks you this, in a small local pub in Munich over a good German Beer, with Jose on the back, sitting at the bar and looking at you nodding enthusiastically…

What do you say? Of course, I’m in!

A few weeks later, Evian’s lake has been the background of a very rich experience and colourful memory.

The challenge of training a heterogeneous international group gave me a precious playground to grow, try my skills and experiment with new ideas.

My co-trainers couldn’t represent a better safe space for me, the complicity and smoothness we developed professionally and personally created such a supportive and light environment, we were so naturally there for each other, from backing each other up in small practical things to emotional support and feedback on our sessions. And this influenced the whole group’s climate.

The learning loop you are exposed to as a trainer is what fascinates me the most, and my notebook can confirm this hahaha! It was full of notes that I took observing my co-trainers facilitating, their training style, improvisations, notes from our brainstormings to come up with new ideas, but also from all the participant's interventions, reflections groups and feedback.

Cooperating in the design of the program allowed me to bring some sessions and to understand how to best contribute, fitting into the Project aim and structure, which was very important to confidently stand in front of a big group and deliver qualitative content.

Most importantly, the trust received from the whole group, trainers and participants, empowered me as a trainer and as a person.

I finished the training happy, exhausted, grateful, and grown, having also felt my room for future improvement, which is something really motivating for me.

I’m used to seeing if something “was good” in a very simple way: if I smile thinking back at it.

This time I’m even smiling towards the next one :)

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Youth Peace Ambassadors

The YPA Network is an informal network of 114 youth leaders and peacebuilders, from diverse backgrounds working for peace.