Breaking walls at the YLS in Burgenland

This year’s Youth Leader Seminar of YEN “Breaking Walls / Rušiti zid(in|ov)e” took place from 26th of September to 2nd of October in Austria, at Burg Lockenhaus/Livka in Burgenland. But instead of breaking castle walls (it would be a pity for the great building), we focused on breaking intercultural prejudices and minority problems, such as exclusion, discrimination and contempt.

Breaking Walls and the Arrival of the Participants

Because the orga team was very much afraid of the participants to get lost in the flat vastness of Burgenland, most of them were picked up at the central station in Vienna. After the arrival at Burg Lockenhaus, there was the unofficial opening, where the workshop leaders introduced themselves and there was given a short overview of the seminar’s schedule. By playing a little game, it was also possible to win a so called “Spritzer”, the national drink of the Burgenland.


Breaking Walls and the Chamber of the Exchange Market

The next day the four workshops Layout/Design, On the Trails of Minority Languages, Identity Foundation and Nanotourism started.

On the Trails of Minority Languages
In this workshop the participants explored how and why some languages have a higher social standing than others. They also dealt with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Next to this three different language trees were made, that showed the origin, similarities and relations between the different minority languages.

If you want to know more, click HERE!

This was the place where the participants got the opportunity to be taught the most important tools to design and make for example posters, flyers and the like for their own minority organisations.

Identity Foundation
Like Katja Sturm-Schnabl said in her speech at official opening: identity is an enormously important factor for the preservation of the language and culture of ethnic populations. This particular workshop offered a broad perspective on ethnical and national minorities and also touched upon the politics of remembrance in Europe.

Nanotourism is meant as a countermovement to the ‘classic’ mass tourism. Because minorities often live in thinly populated border regions, the regular tourist won’t even think of visiting them. Nanotourism tries to find the peculiarities and specialties of these regions, so concepts can be made to make these places more attractive to guests.

Next to this, the members of the three YEN working groups ‘Communication’, ‘Member Integration’ and ‘Minority Rights and Politics’ met to work together.

In the afternoon it was time for the official opening on the main square of Lockenhaus/Livka. Many guests appeared, including Counselor of the Land Norbert Darabos, Katja Sturm-Schnabl, Couselor of the Land Astrid Eiesenkopf and the mayor of Lockenhaus, Christian Vlasich.
In the evening the famous (yet notorious) Exchange Market took place, this time in the Hussar Room of the castle. Accompanied by the sweet sound of the tamburica, the participants had the chance to try the specialties of various minorities and to stack up on goodies to get through the winter.


Breaking walls and the excursion to Vienna

On Wednesday we travelled to Vienna, where we made a first stop at the Austrian parliament to have a guided tour through the building – very beneficial for some of our board member because they could have a look at their future place of employment.

Afterwards we all went to a really interesting discussion about burgenland-croatian and carinthian-slovenian minority policy, where all Austrian governing parties were represented.
After a small buffet, there was organized a Flashmob for our #DiversityConnects campaign. The participants talked to passants and informed them about the minority they are representing at the seminar. This was a huge success!

The next, and also last, stops during our visit to Vienna, were the facilities of the KSŠŠD and the HAK. Then we had to return to Lockenhaus on time, to be there before the castle gates would close.


Breaking Walls and the Prisoner of Lockenhaus

Thursday was a working day. Because all the participants were now finally at home in the castle and couldn’t dream of getting lost anymore, everyone was of course very productive. In the evening the YENies could warm themselves with the stories of some of the oldies (alternative name: fossils) of the organisation during the YEN Evening. A special Spritzer commision was inaugurated, to do the honours of giving out these drinks to particularly deserving participants with smart questions.

Breaking Walls and the Philosopher’s Wine

On Friday afternoon we went on a bus ride again. This time we visited the winery “Vereinte Winzer Horitschon” to have a wine tasting. Later on the bus took us to the KUGA where we danced to the brilliant music from Balkan Tango Vibes, and of course, Roy de Roy and had a fantastic evening.


Breaking Walls and the Hallows of Lockenhaus

A little bit exhausted from the diverse programme of the week, we started the last day of the seminar. In the morning there was the opportunity to take part in mediaeval games. People fought against each other, threw axes, shot crossbows – and even huge wooden gates were smashed. Afterwards a big knight named Hagrid explained torture and murder methods from mediaeval times, as well as the system of a 500 year old toilet to the participants of the seminar.

In the evening all the results and outcomes of the workshops were presented. Even the major of Lockenhaus was present to listen to new ideas and concepts which were developed during the whole week.

To make saying goodbye a little bit easier there was held a farewell-party right after the workshop presentations.


You are a wizard Orga-Team!

It was a great and well organized week. Therefor we really want to say a big thank you the orgateam from the HAK and KSŠŠD, as well as the staff from Burg Lockenhaus. Furthermore we want to thank all the sponsors, and of course the participants – because without them this week would have not occurred!








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