P-Action: Personal is Political

I said it many times that for me the most innovative solutions or approaches are the simplest ones, and the P-Action: Personal is Political, is one of them.

What is P-Action?

In reality those are many things, title of the project we are developing, title of activities, approach that at least for me it would make a lot of sense in the youth work. It is something that I have used already in several educational activities and projects, but it was still not clearly defined, so let´s try to do so. P-Action comes from the slogan: Personal is Political, and it means that in the youth work we encourage actions coming from or related to our personal experiences. On one hand side we encourage to be a role model, and make a statement by our everyday actions, how we behave, what we do. The simplest example (although boring) is the care of the environment, and throwing the trash always to the recycling container. More complicated examples to understand for example in the area of inclusion, would be to make a public appearance with the people from the excluded groups, to keep normalizing it, or always ensuring the measures to include people.

With this approach we motivate as well to stand up for the issues important for us personally. It is about getting connected to the issue and trying to find the inner motivation to work on this issue. For example I was always interested in the topics of interculturality and diversity, and I have to admit, I don´t know why. Possibly because those topics were cool, or I did it, because everyone else was doing it. The important part is that it came a moment in my life when I actually face diversity, understood the challenges and advantages of it. I became a very much privileged migrant, with proper documentation, being white, with job and speaking many languages. And in spite of this I had my downs, of feeling that I don´t belong because I think differently, of being treated differently (yes discrimination has happened as well), and of having my doubts about my real identity. Connecting to the issue made me understand why I want to work on this, and gave my double motivation to do so.

And finally we encourage sincerity and sharing personal stories. I don´t think that something can be as powerful as making it personal. It is very easy to engage in the theoretical discussions for example about the LGBT+ community, and their rights to a marriage; it is easy if you talk about something that is far away and does not actually touch you personally. Would it be the same if we would talk about your brother? It is easy to talk about the refugee crisis, and discuss the limitation how many refugees each country can host. Would it be the same if we would talk about your friend, whom you know many years? Sharing the stories can be powerful. It connects you more to the issue, but as well raises awareness. Personal stories bring the emotions, and inputs how people can be affected by different situations, making the issues more human, and supports others in the same situation, by showing you are not alone; there is someone who understands you.

When I am talking about personal stories, I mean stories from our lives how we felt during different situation, and how we managed to overcome it, but as well how we screw up, meaning how we discriminated or did something that we should not have done.

P-Action in youth work

Here comes the simplicity, let´s use the P-Action and the general approach whenever we work on the sensible topics. How? Of course starting from us – I believe that we can share a lot of stories and give a lot of personal examples. Let´s ask personal questions. Let´s encourage people to share. Let´s do what we preach.

There are already some tools developed, and I will share them with you very soon.


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