Pavlina Manavska was the WSCF-Europe Campaigns Coordinator between 2017 and 2019. In this role, she led a number of campaign and youth initiatives – including campaigns focused on diversity and inclusion and national youth-led studies focused on combating youth extremism.
People say that the best ideas and thoughts come to you while you are already in bed trying to fall asleep,but for some reason your eyes cannot close and your brain seems to be working harder than ever. Some say that the magic happens while you are under the shower, just like the water comes out of the showerwith all its power, so do your ideas spinning around your mind. My productive time was made possible thanks to technology. Working for an international organisation like WSCF-Europe, the home office is the only office the members on the European Regional Committee (ERC) know.
My role as Campaigns Coordinator officially started in 2017, when WSCF-Europe joined the ‘No hate speech’ Movement, with our annual plan and activities of the campaign ‘Year with no hate’. In 2018, the campaign “All for one. One for all” was the continuation of what we’ve started (in 2017). At the beginning, it was more than clear what the role is and what kind of ‘duties’ and responsibilities one could have, but what was not so clear for me was how a Campaigns Coordinator fits into the work of WSCF at our regional level. Because of my previous involvement in the ERC as a Project Coordinator, I was familiar with our projects and the goals we wanted to achieve, and I also knew almost everyone involved and active in local Student Christian Movements (SCMs).
I wouldn’t like to tell you about all the projects, meetings and conferences I took part in, you can read about it in our reports. What I want to share with you is what I’ve learned and what WSCF-Europe is about. Thanks to the amazing work of our Regional Secretary Natia Tsintsadze and our Chair (until 2019) Zuzana Babicova, I had the full support and freedom to bring some of my ideas and to guide this process, a process of growing and learning throughout the 4 years of my involvement.
It is hard when you don’t see people physically to establish a good relationship. It is something that you have to invest your time and your energy in order for a relationship to work. Usually Staff and Officers Meetings were a start line, where SCMs could get to know each other and learn more about the campaign. In 2018, we organised a training in Palermo, Sicily, where the goal was to expose the negative narrative involved in hate speech and to share ideas and ways of promoting diversity and inclusion. Within the framework of that year, I took part in two local initiatives with SCM Finland and SCM Netherlands.
In 2019, we started with a leadership conference in the beautiful Georgia. Of course, when a young group of people gathers and discusses topics that matter, a fire starts burning in them. There are ideas, plans and actions born. But once we depart, we tend to lose ourselves or maybe feel discouraged because of lack of resources and time, problems in the community, hard topics to swallow and so on. This is when the hard part comes and there were so many times where I would ask myself how to set fire in people’s hearts again, motivate and remind them to finish what they’ve started without being annoying or sending too many emails where no response came back. (That happens a lot and I’ve learned not to take it personally).
This is where our weakness is, but at the same time also our strength. I realised that WSCF-Europe is all about building relationships. Just as it became very important to me, I tried to connect with as many SCMs as possible and to listen. It is amazing how much we learn and will understand if we choose to listen. Seeing friendships grow, projects being developed and young people brave and courageous willing to speak up and organise small gatherings with few people was a great encouragement for me. It might be that different countries struggle differently, but the problems of exclusion, discrimination, extremism, social injustices and broken human rights are penetrating, on smaller or bigger scales, everywhere. In the uncertain times we live in today we must be reminded that one is certain: we have each other, we have the WSCF community to support and stand with us. My term on the ERC is over, but I want to encourage everyone, students, young and old and especially the SCMs to actively be in communication with the WSCF-Europe Office and to search for help and support at any time.
To the Campaigns team, my friends, I want to express my deepest gratitude for your work, time spent, online and in person, for sharing the joys and challenges, for the support through so many projects we managed to finish together. There really isn’t anything that we can overcome if we decide to stay united and work together. For the current and future WSCF-Europe ERC Team, I wish you God’s wisdom to continue to ‘Fight the good fight of faith’ (1 Timothy 6:12).