Age: 34
Bradford, United Kingdom.
Second ICLS seminar: October 2002, Bradford

Bryony Taylor

At the time of the ICLS seminar I was just starting my career so didn’t have any clear cut goals, although I was involved in my local Church and Girl Guides Association. Ten years later I am now preparing to go and train to become a priest in the Church of England. I feel I am following my vocation, some of the seeds of which were sown when I was on the ICLS seminar.

Before I went on the seminar I had had a bad experience with an Imam and it had coloured my opinion of Muslim clerics. At the seminar I met Mahboob, an Imam in training and he was gentle, respectful and deeply spiritual. This really challenged me and helped me to realise that one shouldn’t tar everyone with the same brush and should take each person on their own merits.

There were some very difficult moments on the seminar but it was a safe environment. It made a very big difference that it was residential – we really got to know each other well. I was really interested to learn about conflict resolution in Lebanon and also conflict resolution techniques. The media training was also extremely useful and something that I have continued to use since I attended. I guess my leadership skills that were nurtured at the seminar have emerged more strongly in me. 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 - it gave us a passion to pass on what we had learnt to the next generation and I hope I can continue to do that in my future life and ministry as a priest.

 “The scheme should be a national event, rolled out in areas across the country.
A Participant”

Age: 34
Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Surinam)
Second ICLS seminar: 2006, Rotterdam

Pascal Blinker

Since doing the 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. Since then, I have become active as a board member of our city’s Youth Council and also participated in more local community activities. Now I work at RADAR and am the project coordinator of our empowerment project called Powerschool. This project aims to empower young people to focus on what is possible and shows them that they have value and a lot more in common with others then they might first have thought.

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”.

 “Keep doing it! I’m now 33 and have recently led a not dissimilar leadership programme for 18-30 year olds for the Near Neighbours scheme and there is currently nothing similar on offer for those in their 20s.
A Participant”

Age: 30
Rotterdam, Netherlands.
First ICLS seminar: February 2005, Rotterdam

Nadya L. Van Putten

I was born and raised in Aruba, an island in the Dutch Caribbean, and moved to the Netherlands in 2001. During my first years in the Netherlands I felt the need to do something for the community I lived in. The times were very rough politically speaking: the far right politicians and rhetoric started to gain support and migrants and the multicultural society was severely under pressure. I started volunteering with the local Green Party and soon made it to the Youth, Education and Culture commission. It was at this time that I heard about the ICLS seminar and of other likeminded youths wanting to make a difference.

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 am currently a board member of the Dutch Caribbean Consultation Organisation. I have also been a proud ambassador of the Inspired Project, speaking to youth organizations, women’s organizations, and schools on topics ranging from politics, women’s issues and my own personal life, all with the goal of inspiring others to follow their dreams. I also Chaired the ‘Unity is Strength Foundation’ where I have worked with Reverend Jesse Jackson Jr.’s ‘Rainbow Push Coalition’ on areas involving anti-discrimination and human rights.

 “I remember finally finding a space where I could 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.
A Participant”

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