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ROM 2021 Summer Gathering

10/4/21, 10:00 AM

This year’s Renewing Our Minds (ROM) gathering brought together about 45 young leaders from the Balkans and beyond July 1-15, 2021 in Crikvenica, Croatia.

The program focused on identity, forgiveness,  reconciliation, and leadership based on the principles of Jesus. The  interactive program took the participants on a journey from “Who is  Jesus?” and “Who am I?” to help them see those around them more clearly,  the challenges they are facing, and how they can respond to those  challenges.

Specific issues covered included the understanding  challenges faced by refugees, human trafficking victims, and sex  workers, maintaining integrity, combating nationalism, increasing  political engagement, and moving from an aid to a development mindset.  This year a new feature was added to our program this – a peace  negotiations simulation which participants shared helped them better  understand the complex nature of resolving territorial and other  disputes and the importance of listening to and understanding the other  side in any conflict.

"It’s amazing to meet all these people and hear everyone’s story and  work,” shared a participant from Romania. “I am more confronted with  realities I chose not to see before and my next challenge will be to  find out where I fit in, and where I can be of most use."

When asked what part of ROM impacted him the most, a participant  from Bosnia, responded: "The part where everyone is so nice to each  other, everyone is open minded, not judging, everybody is respectful and  kind. Everyone from the ROM team is so kind and helpful, they are  understanding and compassionate about everything we say. I am glad I had  the opportunity to meet all those people since each one of the ROM team  and participants are so kind and open to friendship."

Participants were young people ages 18-35, mainly from the Balkans  (former Yugoslavia and surrounding countries) but also a few from  Western Europe. They represented a total of 16 countries. About half  were students and other half are young professionals, working in public  policy, education, medicine, NGOs, and other spheres. We believe that  the number of people reached will be large as participants return home  and share and apply what they learned with friends, family, and  colleagues. This year’s participants join a group of over 1000 leaders  who have been part of ROM programs since its inception in 1999.

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