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Dublin’s Culture Connects at Zeminar

Co Author:
Shauna Sweeney

Dublin’s Culture Connects had a VERY busy two days at this year’s Zeminar on 10 and 11 October at the RDS.

For those who aren’t familiar with Zeminar, it is a ‘youth summit’, created to bring all those invested in the development and well-being of young people in Ireland to one place. Zeminar is an event for Generation Z (those aged between 15 and 20), their parents, teachers, mentors and coaches. It brought together an impressive list of speakers, from Bressie to The Strypes, and asked them to tell students how they navigated the bumps in the road on their journeys through life. Throughout the event there were workshops, influential speakers, essential resources and fun activities. Attendees left the event with new knowledge to help them live happier, safer, and more fulfilling lives and we were delighted to be a part of it.

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For Dublin’s Culture Connects the two days revolved around chatting with as many young people as possible. We want to make connections and discover what culture means to the young people of today, and find out what’s important to them. We installed huge blackboards at our stand prompting responses for ‘what makes me smile..’ and ‘to me, culture is…’. It was lovely to read the all the scribbles and answers over the two days as hundreds of teenagers gave us their thoughts and comments:

Culture is part of your identity, it’s part of what you are

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Culture is… evolving and changing the future but retaining the value it held before.

Family and friends were of course a big hit in the ‘what makes you smile’ category. We were told about how people working together, expressing themselves through their clothes and appearance and seeing others smile all added some joy into their own day. But what were the most surprising responses? Probably the overwhelming love of chicken nuggets, spice bags and ‘K-Pop’ (Korean Pop for those of us who aren’t ‘cool’ and down with the kids). Well if it puts a smile on their faces – why not!

A highlight for us was seeing how the teens interacted with our two artists; Niki Collier and Shane Daniel Byrne. Niki displayed hats and encouraged teens to try them on and be photographed. The hats served as a backdrop for Niki to discuss identity, embracing difference and finding out what is important to teenagers today.
Shane Daniel Byrne was out researching the other stalls, specifically to check out the support and resources available to young LGBTs at second and third level. Shane’s work so far on Dublin’s Culture Connects: Engage the City has been centred around the topics of equality and sexuality and what it means to be a young gay person in Dublin today.

With over 100 stalls at the Zeminar event and at least 10,000 young people in attendance it was a wonderful occasion to be involved in. The other stalls offered attendees the opportunity to gain information on everything from stress management and mental health to healthy life choices, career selection to an Irish Language Hub, informative talks to sports and hobby associations and everything else in between. All exhibitors brought something experiential to the event, giving attendees the chance to practice new skills, try out new things and meet professionals within different spaces. So, we were in very good company and looking forward to next year already.

Now we’re off to grab a spice bag (we’ve gotten tips on where to get the good ones).

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