News from YIP – May 2020

Picture by Meng Zhen Wu

Dear friends of YIP,

Cheerful Wednesday. I am sitting in the sun outside the Hive, looking over the lawn to the Kulturhuset. The grass is long and full of fluffy and yellow dandelions, tulips making way for purple flowers and seas of blue forget-me-nots. The wind is gently flowing through the birch trees and apple blossoms.

Moving towards the end of the year the Yippies move from participant to organiser and take full responsibility of their own time during the Self-Designed Curriculum weeks. And so these last weeks have been immensely rich and creative, with individual and group activities popping up everywhere. After four weeks of busy bees, we celebrated everyone’s work during the Personal Initiative Presentation Week. These days we are preparing for a week in the outdoors, making ourselves ready to surrender to the rhythms of nature.

The days are long and sunny, and we are stepping into integrating everything this year has brought and held. I am excited for these beautiful weeks ahead.
written by Mien Stoffels

In this newsletter you will find:

  • The Self-Designed Curriculum: Collective threads written by Ami Cochrane & Janne Bierens
  • The Self-Designed Curriculum: Group work written by Leila Koth-Smith & Chiara Tonndorf
  • The Personal Initiative written by Ruby McGowan
  • The Personal Initiative Presentation Week written by Hedwig Barczuk
  • Last push to spread the word for YIP13! written by Annie Meijer & Nil Roda-Naccari Noguera
  • Working with Covid and the global situation written by the OTs

The Self-Designed Curriculum
Collective threads

Picture by Meng Zhen Wu

Freedom of Thought in Times of a Pandemic

For a long time it seemed like something so far in the future, but the Self-Designed block of the curriculum has come and gone. It’s a part of the curriculum where we transition from participant to organiser and design our days YIP12 style.

The primary focus of these four weeks is to work on our Personal Initiative – a process that kick started during the outpost in Hoy (Orkney Islands), where we used the Flow Game to discover and clarify a guiding question for our personal initiative. It is also a time when we have the space to initiate activities for the group. We used the Open Space Technology that we learned during the Art of Hosting course to bring forth our ideas, invite others to brainstorm and develop them, and finally to manifest them into sticky notes that coloured our weekly schedule.

We knew that YIP12 is a knowledgable bunch full of curiosities, but we were still quite surprised and inspired by the number and diversity of ideas that emerged. One of the ideas that we (Ami & Janne), together with Steph and Hedwig brought to life was the Corona Lecture Series – an initiative that was born from our desire to gain a deeper understanding and to develop our own opinion on the issue.

While other countries were enforcing social isolation, the Swedish government took the approach of advising its citizens to behave responsibly. But what does behaving responsibly mean? We found ourselves in a unique situation: we were able to continue living together as a large group and we had the freedom to decide how we would behave responsibly within our community. Being an international group with connections around the world, there were varying levels of concern. We spoke about balancing personal freedom with group responsibility and shared our personal needs.

Reading the headlining news and being involved in the conversations that we had as YIP12, we felt that there was a similar narrative: the virus is attacking us and we have to protect ourselves! We struggled to relate to this story. Could it be so black and white? To find our position within this global pandemic and to prepare ourselves for when we return home, we decided to dive deeper. With the opportunity to design our own curriculum, we initiated a series of lectures on COVID-19. We invited Dr. Lakshmi Prasanna, a developmental paediatrician and president of the Anthroposophical Society of India to speak to the Anthroposophical/medical perspective, and Jesse Osmer, a critical thinker who has been doing extensive research into the pandemic, to speak on the consequences of it at the individual and societal level.

Both contributors shared their world of profession and research with us. They opened our eyes to the complexity of the pandemic and through the exposure to a diversity of perspectives, it allowed us to zoom out and become aware of the potential root causes that form the conventional narrative of COVID-19. With the consequences that this pandemic will have on our future, we as young adults of the 21st century realise that we don’t want to follow the conventional perspective alone. We feel empowered by the responsibility to do our own research and we want to continue to explore the multi-sidedness in the world and within ourselves. Perhaps, in the end that’s what this crisis brings to us: the realisation that the freedom of thought is a practice. A practice for today, but also for the near and far future.
Written by Ami Cochrane & Janne Bierens

The Self-Designed Curriculum
Group work

Picture by Meng Zhen Wu

All the windows of Tallevana are open. Swedish visitors, who are enjoying the sun in Ytterjärna Trädgårdspark, witness a scene by scene show as they walk past.

The library curtains are billowing in the sunshine as a group of Yippies sit frowning over Steiner’s Knowledge of the Higher World. Tongues click as their brains tick over the words; reading, interpreting and analyzing. In the next window two people do yoga (not technically Self Designed Curriculum but still important) on blue mats. Their faces concentrating then smiling as legs wobble and shake. The window of the computer room, turned workout room, announces its presence long before it’s seen. Music floats out loud and complicated. The musicians’ lodge band is rehearsing. A guitar, cello, violin, tin whistle and mandolin are joined by several voices and the buzzing, rattling drum of the cajon. The next window is empty but below it on the grass sit a group peeling and cutting rhubarb. Grown wild in the YIP garden it is tart and juicy.

The visitors smile at such a lively sight, a house filled with people and life. They stay on the path but the scenes continue in the grass around the front of Tallevana.

Under a tree there is a group sit staring at dandelions. They start with eyes open then eyes closed, a nature observation. Further away, near the Kulturhuset, the peaceful serenity is broken by good natured yelling. A circle of Yippies play Dragon’s Nest and race with chairs across the grass.

These days are long, not just because of the sun, but because they are full. How we managed to get any Personal Projects done astounds me. Our Self-Designed time rich in choice and togetherness.
Written by Leila Koth-Smith

Picture by Lynette van Pelt

Hey there!
You, who is reading this.
I’m gonna write to you about the Group Work we organised during the Self-Designed Curriculum.

What is Group Work?
That’s all the activities that someone organised and where people could participate in if they wished. So many amazing things were hosted by people from our group and I enjoyed it a lot to explore different topics.

I’m gonna talk to you about different activities: Money Talks, Annie Talks, Reinoud Talks and Gardening with Elizabeth. I must admit, our titles were not too creative.

Money Talks
Esmée and Steph hosted these sessions, during which we explored our relationship to money. First we looked at our personal experiences with money, e.g. in our upbringing and how we managed to finance our year at YIP. Then we looked at the definition of money and the things that having money enables us to do. In the third session, we played a game with real money, where we first had to take, then ask for and finally gift money. During this game we constantly observed our feelings and thoughts. In the last session, we did Reclamation Work with the feelings and thoughts that we project on money. It was a very emotional process which is definitely not finished. It was very interesting and freeing to break the taboo and talk openly about money.

Annie Talks
We asked Annie to introduce us to the basics of counselling during a weekly session on Fridays. She introduced us to the difference between conventional counselling, biographical counselling and counselling. We learned how to practice neutrality and groundedness.

Reinoud Talks
We asked Reinoud to deepen our knowledge about Social/Societal Entrepreneurship. At the beginning, we started with the philosophical view and motivations for social entrepreneurship. Then we talked about the more practical things of the realisation. In the third session, we lost ourselves in the world of different legal formats and fundings. A world that remains difficult to understand for most of us. In the last session, Reinoud listened to our questions about the practicalities of realizing an enterprise and the philosophical and moral questions we were holding.

Gardening with Elizabeth
Twice a week a few of us went off to Elizabeth’s Villa Villekulla. We would help her in the garden, plant, weed, rake leaves, saw wood, fix the greenhouse and paint different furniture. Then, we were treated with different herbal teas collected in the woods. The loveliest thing was to make her so happy with our help and to do something we enjoyed at the same time. Every time it was very nourishing for all of us.

Hey there!
You, who’s read this until the end. We also did a lot more, so this was just a sneek peak. All in all it was very lovely, well hosted and full of creativity.
Written by Chiara Tonndorf

The Personal Initiative

Picture by Ruby McGowan

“First Drafts”

I have written stories ever since I learned how to write. In fact, technically before that, too. When I was four I used to narrate rambling nonsense stories about flying pandas and hamsters and fairies to my grandmother and she would write them down for me.

Following on from that anecdotal introduction, my Personal Initiative consisted of five full-length plays, written over the course of my time at YIP. I titled the project “First Drafts” — a compilation of early work intended to serve as practise at getting better at doing what I love to do: Write.

It has been my primary drive for most of my life, and these five scripts have helped me to examine why it is I predominantly love to write plays. What it comes down to is a fascination with human speech, relationships, individuals, and conversations — and an aspiration to attempt to recreate the mannerisms and behaviours of our species as naturalistically as possible; all the while maintaining an air of the unreal. Because though it may sound contradictory, I believe that fantasy and symbolism imbue our lives as much as they do fiction.

For the past ten months I have worked with the question of where realism and make-believe meet. How mythology, fairy-tales, and epic stories interact with mundane, everyday, slice-of-life narratives. I have examined the symbols and the examples of the fantastical present in my own life and have used them, alongside my own experiences and interests, to inform my writing.

What came of this exploration were the following works:

  • Arin and The Boatman — a one-act play set in Sweden in the 1940s, centred around a friendship between a thirteen-year-old girl and her family’s middle-aged boatman.
  • Felt-heart — a full-length play telling the coming-of-age story of a Botany student living in America who returns home to Edinburgh for the holidays to be confronted by her past and present relationships with the different people in her life.
  • Redbird Strike-Anywhere Matches — a one-act mixed-medium two-hander play featuring poetry and several monologues, heavily inspired by my time spent at a writer’s residency in Nova Scotia, Canada, during YIP’s Internship phase.
  • Frog and Crow vs. The Big Rest — an absurdist full-length play responding to the Corona pandemic, exploring mythologies from multiple cultures, femininity, mental illness, and the relationship between two female best friends stuck in a mountain cabin at the outbreak of a global virus.
  • Character Development — A heightened realist three-hour-long play investigating the Manic Pixie Dream Girl film trope through a romantic-comedy lens and structure.

I am truly grateful that the time and support offered by the Personal Initiative element of YIP’s curriculum has allowed me to delve so deeply into this passion of mine. I believe it has stood me in good stead for my future endeavours in writing and theatre as I move towards studying Creative Writing in America, and will always have these plays as a reminder and representation of my time at YIP.
Written by Ruby MccGowan

The Personal Initiative Presentations Week

Picture by Meng Zhen Wu

“I am just overwhelmed by love for everyone.
I was sitting there, thinking: look at you!
How intelligent you are, how capable, how beautiful…”

I picked up this conversation when I stepped out of the Hive, into the sun and on my way to a very welcome fika. We have been sitting down and listening for 23 times 45 minutes during this week. After the coffee break, the person who said this was shining herself and I saw how intelligent, capable and beautiful she is.

Last week, we presented our Personal Initiatives to each other and to family and friends that joined via Zoom. It was a pleasure to sit there and to go to many different places. I imagined the future of Zimbabwe, positively impacted by a Multi-Talented Makerspace that creates employment in the whole country. I was brought back to the different locations where YIP took place this year, by hearing them reflected in five theatrescipts. I had the chance to perform my own choir piece and to be witnessed by the people I deeply care for. How empowering to stand there, to see their shining eyes and to receive their hugs. I saw people waking up to their own behaviour and I admired their capacity to change it, by doing what feels right and healthy, by doing what they truly love to do. They found the courage to bring up huge questions – how can the joy of children change the world? – and just started exploring them by making small steps.

Seven Yippies started off on day two with the Song of the Earth. “I see a future where humanity listens to the Song of the Earth”. The song was stuck in my mind all day. I can’t wait until the magazine The Stubborn Optimist will be published. It will touch people’s heart because it shows the author’s love for and concern about our earth in a kind and friendly, yet realistic way. We saw the value of creative work reflected in beautiful and refined drawings and watercolour paintings. We learned that exploring your own interests and contributing to a better world sometimes go hand in hand. The participants of YIP13 will find garden beds behind Tallevana where they can harvest pumpkins in autumn. We witnessed how the past inspires people to create a better future: Studio P will be a welcoming working environment for troubled youth, where products will be created from recycled plastic. I strongly believe that projects like this come to people’s minds when they cultivate their courage, imagination and playfulness. The workshop Play in Progress will contribute to the development of these qualities in people all over the world.

So this is what happens when you allow people to work on what they truly love doing, when they are encouraged to do what feels right for them. We saw them shine, being fully themselves.

Designing your own curriculum is not only fun, it is also not necessarily easy to do. Yet it brings you closer to yourself, your interests, capacities, weaknesses and dreams for the future. What is it that I need to work on now, to be of service to the world? Because that is what we have in common: a wish to create positive change. We can only do that to the best of our abilities, only by doing what is ours to do.

Sometimes you realize that you rely on other people to value your work. How can we find approval in ourselves? Where do we find our own truth? I saw how movies can influence our understanding of the world, and I saw how the conscious mind of a human being can actually transcend and deconstruct certain prejudices. I saw a future social worker being truly interested in our fellow human beings. She took in the harsh realities of the Syrian civil war with the aim to be of better service to refugees in Belgium. The inner clown of one of my fellow Yippies made me smile. She has the ability to make people move, to encourage them to improvise and thus express themselves beyond words. We all live by a certain narrative. How can we truly understand each other? One of us experienced the reality of water shortage personally. For one week she didn’t use tap water. Instead, she walked 24km every second day to carry 10 liters of water home for the next two days.

On the last day of the Presentation Week, we were treated with stories and paintings of a children book in the making. This book will contribute to the imagination of children and their parents. I learned that conventional beekeeping isn’t as much in line with natural laws as it could be. I was impressed by an alternative, beautifully handmade beehive, that will become home for many bees in Ytterjärna. The people around me have inspired me once again: their creative minds, their ability to express themselves in many different ways, through words, paintings and drawings, clay, music, theatre or self-written stories. I was reminded of how little we need to be happy: nature around us, water, fire and some friends is already enough. Another creative mind created a board game to make people realize that the balance in our ecosystems needs to be restored.

I am so grateful to have lived with 22 amazing, positive, courageous and creative people for such a long time. The Self-Designed Curriculum is over now, but I will carry the nourishing memories of this week into the future.
Written by Hedwig Barczuk

Last push for YIP13 applicants

Image by Maíra Rahme

Dear all,

We hope you are well in these shifting and complex Covid-19 times and that your community is practicing resilience and solidarity.

After pausing with our outreach over the past month, we are beginning again to put the word out that our thirteenth program year (YIP 13) will commence in August 2021, trusting and hoping that the current situation will ease. But deadlines are fast approaching – applications for YIP13 close on June 15!

Participants normally find us by word of mouth. Apparently, in the last 4 years, more than 80% of the people applying to YIP came from ‘Alumni Referrals’ – alumni sharing their stories and people then feeling inspired to apply. This is why we are writing to you today.

Given the broad networks you are a part of, we would be grateful if you would share any of the following to any individual or groups you feel may benefit from attending the program.
In the attachments you can find the following:

  • YIP PDF document that explains more about the program and curriculum including further links and video’s for your information. Please feel free to share this with colleagues.
  • YIP Poster that you can send on to groups or individuals or print out.
  • YIP Flyer optimised to be shared on social media
  • YIP13 APPLY NOW video to be downloaded and shared

If you have any questions or would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me (

If you are in need of further inspiration, we even have template below to help! This should only take 5 minutes and could make a world of difference!
(If you do share on social media, please tag @YIP in your post)

With thanks and best wishes from the YIP Team,
Annie and Nil


Dear friends,

Some XXXX years ago I participated in @YIP (International Youth Initiative Program), a 10 month Societal Entrepreneurship education in Sweden. It is an international program for youth aged 18 to 28 wanting to explore who they really are and what their task in the world is.

Going through it, I learned / lived / experienced _ and that set me up for _.

Despite the current crisis, and due the way Sweden is dealing with Covid-19, they will still be able to run a program next year! But applications are open only until the 15th of June – so apply soon if you are interested!

Also, please share information if someone else comes to mind who you think would love the program!

Here’s a video about YIP:
And here are the applications:

Written by Annie Meijer & Nil Roda-Naccari Noguera

Apply now for YIP 13

A note from the team

Thank you to everyone for your support and insightful questions regarding how YIP is meeting covid-19 and the current global situation. We wanted to reach out and let you know how we are seeing YIP13 and what is possible.

Respectful of the challenges many are facing and aware of the uncertainty with regards to travel, larger gatherings and education, we find ourselves in the exceptional situation of being able to limit our contact with others if needed due to our rural location. This allows us to maintain the in-person, residential program we cherish at YIP and which is such a unique and important part of the YIP experience.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have received a large amount of enquiries from applicants. If you are affected by the current coronavirus situation and this is creating challenges for you in relation to your application, please write to Isabel at

We wish to raise awareness for the (currently even more) unique learning opportunity YIP can offer and still encourage people that are wishing to experience YIP to apply or if you know of anyone that might benefit from attending YIP to encourage them to do so.

Here are two questions answered in a bit more detail, in case this is useful:

Can I enter Sweden for the next edition of YIP?
Currently there are no restrictions for citizens from the EU and the EES to enter Sweden. This means that at the moment if you are from a EU or EES member state, you should be able to enter Sweden and attend YIP.

For citizens from outside the EU and EES, there is currently a travel ban in place until July 15th 2020. We hope this ban will lift after this date and will keep anyone that applies from outside the EU and EES informed as best we can.

Can YIP run during the Covid-Pandemic?
With some additional tweaks to the practical running, YIP can maintain its operations due to the fact that all the participants share one household. The main change might be that some of the contributors might not be able to physically join.

If you have further questions, please feel free to write to

Warm regards from the YIP Organizing Team

Looking forward

In the next newsletter you can expect to read more about:

  • The Outdoor Experience
  • Integration
  • Graduating
  • … and much more!