International youth camp teaches about human rights
A group of teenagers from 10 different countries gathered in Slovakia in early August to take part in the country's first International Youth Camp, a 10-day programme focused on the promotion of peace and human rights.
The camp was hosted by the House of Europe in Bratislava, along with support from a European Community program known as Youth for Europe. All across the continent, students competed in local essay and speech competitions in order to win the right to attend.
The students, who came from as far off as Portugal, spent the week visiting with a variety of officials active in the human rights field. "The purpose of the camp is to give them knowledge of what is possible in the human rights field and what is already being done," said Martina Kurišová, one of the youth leaders.
A total of 28 students attended, including five from Slovakia. Tim Huiskes, 15, represented the Netherlands due to an essay he wrote for a competition called the Olympiad of Human Rights. "Lack of human rights is a very big problem," he said. "Many people don't even know what rights they have, so education is a very important thing."
Slovak Lucia Juskaničová, 17, from Humenné, had to pass a test and give a speech to school officials to qualify for the camp. To win, she spoke about how the human rights question relates to refugees. "It's important to try to trust refugees, even though some just leave countries for economic gain," she said. She added that although the issue of minority rights was the biggest human rights issue facing Slovakia now, she thought the government was already taking the necessary steps.
One of the speakers at the conference, journalist Juraj Alner, said he found the intelligence and optimism of the young students inspiring. "From one generation to another we speak about the future and we ask where is the future. A lot of young people have no questions and no interest. But these young people are very good, They realise what we are talking about. I am very optimistic for this generation," he said.
16. Aug 1999 at 0:00