Anna Michael: The UN’s support is crucial in bringing young people together to build peace
Anna Michael is a 29-year-old Cypriot who is passionate about supporting young people to find their path and join the labour market through counselling and education. She works as part of the YOUTHShare project, which is supporting young people to enter sustainable sectors of the economy through trainings and internships. Anna conducts seminars and workshops in the fields of personal development and social entrepreneurship as part of the project.
To celebrate World Youth Skills Day, UNFICYP’s Civil Affairs Section, has been focusing on the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. This year, the celebrations are taking place in a challenging context, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a huge impact in the lives of young Cypriots across the island.
Young people are particularly exposed to the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. School and workplace closures are leading to learning and training losses. On this day, the UN pays tribute to the resilience and creativity of Cypriot youth through the crisis.
Anna notes that her work was highly affected by the pandemic as all the coaching sessions and workshops were transferred online. “The highest challenge was to engage youth from behind a screen. Especially when it comes to training, it was very demanding, it required extra effort to create a personal approach and support in technology skills for those who needed them,” she highlights.
She recalls another challenging aspect while shifting to virtual meetings: “Creating a connection with youth who never saw you in their lives was challenging and it required time and effort. I had to build trust through the online sessions.”
She believes that in the post-pandemic era people should stay open towards the new way of working while not compromising the importance of human interaction. “My work is still going online, however, I try to meet as many beneficiaries or clients as possible while following COVID preventive measures. The sense of face-to-face contact is irreplaceable, and we owe it to ourselves as youth workers to be the safeguards of those skills, especially in the near future”, she explains.
When asked about the Mission support and engagement with youth, she states: “The UN’s support is crucial in connecting youth to different projects and initiatives. Their exposure to such resources play a significant role in their present and future and their contribution to the local communities was invaluable for their integration and cultivation of unity,” she concludes.