The 23 year-old from Argentina, Dylan Bokler, is a passionate youth activist who is working on raising awareness on the importance of diversity and openness in his country, focusing on young people, by hosting workshops, seminars, and round table discussions.
He also works with young people on the importance of immigrant integration.
In this exclusive interview with Youth Time, Bokler shares the initial idea of this project, how it evolved during the time, and what are the planned activities to take place in the second part of 2021.
Tackling Prejudices Against Migrants
In his words, Argentina is known as a “melting pot” of origins, religions and cultures.
Between 1880 and 1930 millions of immigrants arrived at the port of Buenos Aires seeking a better life. Many of them, like Dylan Bokler’s ancestors, escaped poverty, war and racism.
After the end of the Second World War, and more significantly at the end of the 20th Century, the most important waves of immigration were from neighbouring countries like Paraguay, Peru and Bolivia. Many of them were welcomed. However, xenophobia and discrimination started to rise.
Argentina is a country that has faced economic instability, and it’s known that during times of crisis some groups try to find a scapegoat to justify the problems of the nation.
As per the 23-year-old’s opinion, it was ironic, and incomprehensible, that a nation where most of its population, not forgetting the decimated indigenous population and the Afro-Argentine community, endured a very similar process not so long ago.
Merging the Past and the Present
Today’s activism of Dylan Bokler can be seen as impacted by his ancestors, which were Russian and Polish immigrants that had to escape from their countries, fleeing war, racism and poverty, seeking a better life.
“Argentina received my forefathers, and millions of my fellow countrymen, with open arms. So, because of my history I have always been interested in matters of human rights and international migrations.”
With this interest always present during his professional development, he started to focus on the contemporary migration waves, that are mostly from neighbouring countries like Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru.
“An important percentage of the migrants that arrived to Argentina in the last 30 years suffered from xenophobia and discrimination and found difficulties to get a job because of their origin.
“With the present refugee crisis in Venezuela, and the growing tensions in recipient countries like Colombia and Ecuador.”
“I thought it was important to join forces with other young leaders to tackle prejudices and build a more open and diverse Argentinian society, always remembering our past to strive for a better future.”
The idea of his project was always focused on the work with youngsters on matters of human rights, migration and politics.
“Initially I thought of developing joint projects with an Immigration NGO and organising face-to-face workshops but the pandemic, and the uncertainty that comes with it, gave me the opportunity to rethink my priorities and objectives.
“That’s why I contacted my teammates of Soft Power (SP) in order to use its platform for the development of seminars, conferences and simulations online during a whole month, where students from different parts of Argentina could have the possibility to interact with each other and establish bonds with other leaders.”
Collaborating with Soft Power
He further elaborates the collaboration with SP, a Foreign Affairs study centre that opts for the inter-disciplinary through the development of integral projects aimed to empower young people.
“During 2019 we also organized conferences and visits to governmental buildings. In 2020, I coordinated its Content Division, a very fruitful year where we developed ambitious and multi-dimensional projects with the objective of empowering the youth and giving them opportunities to gain knowledge and access to important academics and professionals of the field of International Relations.”
Every month, during 2020, Soft Power had a theme on which they drew inspiration to work on, and they called specialists of the designated area and their discussions were focused on that issue.
During 2021, Dylan Bokler is going to focus a whole month of our activities to the implementation of the Miracle Corner of the World (MCW Global) project, organising a UNHCR simulation on the Venezuelan crisis, having a discussion on the perceptions of the youth about immigration, etc.
He explains the main goal behind these activities going to take place in July/August this year.
“It’s planning and development it’s going to start, formally, in March, but so far the feedback on the idea of my project, that was shared by MCW, and the discussion of its essence with my teammates of Soft Power had good feedback.”
This year, SP is going to have a full month dedicated to the MCW Project, where there is going to be a diverse set of activities, for the youngsters, on migrations, xenophobia, and refugees.
“The ultimate goal behind these activities is to raise awareness among the youth on the dangers of xenophobia and the importance of building a more open and diverse society where everyone could have the opportunity to strive for a better future in Argentina.”
By saying that there is no time to lose, in the end, he has a message for all the young people wanting to make a positive change in their communities.
“The youngsters aren’t only the future; we are the present. We have the responsibility to come forward.
“As Anne Frank said: ‘How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world’.
“The moment to participate, and be involved, in civic affairs is here and now.”
Youth Time will keep you updated on Bokler’s success in implementing the project.
Photos: Dylan Bokler
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