In August, 40 young adults ages 18-30 from all over Europe and 5 other international countries traveled to Šibenik, Croatia, for the second International Summer School of Bioethics and Human Rights (ISSBHR). This summer school project was supported by the German non-profit Stiftung Ja Zum Leben and held by WYA Europe and WYA Croatia.
World Youth Alliance (WYA) recognizes the intrinsic dignity of each human person from conception to natural death. In that phrase, “conception to natural death,” many bioethical topics need to be examined. One participant said about their time at the ISSBHR, “This experience inspired me and gave me new thoughts to consider.
Throughout the week, attendees worked with medical, legal, and philosophical experts who presented lectures, discussions, and debates about current, challenging bioethical issues. The main topics covered were abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, and conscientious objection in healthcare.
Myriam Kaufmann, the regional director for WYA Europe, shared the impact this entire week had on the participants. “Through the tools and resources provided by the summer school, these young adults learned how to advocate for human rights related to bioethical topics and issues.”
In the middle of the week, the students were able to put their advocacy skills to practice. “Once they had it theoretically, we gave them the more practical part–debates!” says Myriam. “We had two debates in total. We always try to debate issues related to the topics we discussed during the week so they can use the knowledge they just gathered”.
The most upstanding participants in the two previous debates were selected participants in a Master debate on the last day of the summer school. “It was kind of a closing ceremony. And we made it more professional and situationally related as if it were happening in real life.”
Myriam notes the growth students experienced while debating with each other. “Many of the participants that attended share WYAs values deeply. Some of them felt like trying to take the opposite side, even in a practice debate, goes against what they believe and expressed that it felt a bit evil. Some would tell us, ‘How can I defend this if I don’t believe in it?’ We see this all the time. But it’s amazing because after participating in the debates, the students realized that sometimes you have to understand the opposite side’s position on something to develop solid arguments to defend the things you actually believe in.”
In addition to the learning portion of the ISSBHR, participants enjoyed sharing the whole experience with each other as an international community. After the lectures, participants had time in the afternoons to sightsee Šibenik or relax together on the coasts of Croatia. Even though they spent just five short days together, they found solidarity within WYAs global atmosphere and through the shared value of the human dignity of each human person.
As one participant said, “It was a great experience to challenge yourself, make friends from around the world, and discuss topics that are very important for everybody’s lives.”
Want to attend a WYA event? Check out our events calendar to see when the next one is coming up!