From January 4th to 9th of this year, the Center for Dialogue and Prayer hosted a 29-member group from the Youth Council of Oldham and Oldham Theatre Workshops from the United Kingdom. Representatives from this organization have been visiting our Center annually for the past 10 years.

The Youth Council of Oldham, in collaboration with Oldham Theatre Workshops, aims to educate young people aged 13-19 who, through their activities, influence changes in Oldham. They strive to be the voice of the entire young generation worldwide. Engaging in various theater workshops, they develop their artistic abilities. Above all, through creative activities, they learn the values of dialogue, understanding, cooperation, tolerance, and building relationships in a multicultural group.

Oldham, located in the north-western part of the United Kingdom with a population of over 100,000 residents, is characterized by significant diversity in nationality, culture, and religion. These aspects result in issues related to race, religion, and ethnicity.

A group of 24 young people from Oldham, accompanied by 5 supervisors, is implementing the Listen to the Earth program in Poland. This social education project involves a 5-day visit, during which participants have the opportunity to meet Holocaust survivors, their descendants, and explore the areas of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Listen to The Earth program utilizes creative methods such as drama, creative writing, visual arts, and filmmaking to create works based on the experiences and learning of young people. Its goal is to develop the personalities of the youth, teaching them how to function and build a sense of community in a society where there are divisions and cultural rifts.

A significant part of the stay at the Center for Dialogue and Prayer for the Youth Council of Oldham is the visit to the former German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Jodie Barber, the project leader, emphasized that many participants have limited knowledge of Auschwitz and the genocide that occurred there. Therefore, deepening their knowledge of the Holocaust serves as a starting point for collective reflection on how to prevent similar tragedies in the future. A meeting with a former Auschwitz prisoner, Mrs. Zdzisława Włodarczyk, further highlighted the need to eliminate prejudices. Mrs. Zdzisława shared her poignant testimony, and the direct encounter with someone personally affected by the horrors of World War II strongly urged the youth to eliminate prejudices towards others.

“Learn diligently, make use of freedom, respect yourselves and others, be kind to each other, respect nature. Remember that although we differ in skin color, hairstyle, eye color, or silhouette, we all have much in common. Each of us is perfect as we are because we are creations of God. And please, never harbor hatred towards another person in your heart. All wars begin with hatred. I wish you never to share my fate,” concluded Mrs. Zdzisława Włodarczyk, delivering a heartfelt appeal to the group.

Program is an educational initiative focused on developing attitudes of dialogue, understanding, and tolerance in society. Its organizers aim to shape leadership qualities in participants, making them role models and counteracting bigotry, fanaticism, discrimination, and dangerous ideologies. The ultimate goal is to foster an attitude of openness and respect for fellow human beings, making young people aware that, despite differences, society is one global village.