Respect, don’t discriminate

Participants' photoreports February 2019 Romania

In Romanian Horezu, at the foot of picturesque Carpathian Mountains, a project called Respect, don’t discriminate took place, in which participated 8 persons representing 4YOUth Foundation. Together with youngsters from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Turkey we have been dealing with broadly defined topic of discrimination and mutual respect, using methods of non-formal education. Although project lasted only 8 days, i.e. from 26th January to 2nd February 2019, we had a lot opportunities to reflect on given topics.

Especially pleasing moments of a project which sunk in our memories were activities, which involved local community. We could have taken a look from totally different perspective not only at the topic of our project, but also we observed how common people detached from their daily routine perceive it. First occasion to get in touch with locals occurred on the 2nd day of youth exchange, during team building activity, when one of the teams gathered several stories from habitants of Horezu. Other challenge, testing our ability to cooperate as well, were workshops conducted by all of us in high school during regular lesson. Moreover we checked out how methods which had been used by us before are working in practise, this time from the point of view of facilitators. At the beginning pupils were quite shy, but as we joined them already at the first activity, they made contact with us really quickly.

A unique experience ran before the eyes of local community was a flashmob, which promoted unity over divisions. Several young people joined us, so we can tell, we achieved success. At the very end of the project we interviewed locals, asking them about experiencing gender inequality in daily life. Our task turned out to be challenging, though with support of Romanian participants we were able to hear some interesting stories. The organizers provided us big surprise by taking us to local master of pottery. It is to notice that this region is known for this craft. Unforgettable experience for us was Romanian cultural evening, crowned by the performance of local folklore children’s group, which made it to a successful event.

Remaining intercultural evenings were similar to the first one. The representatives of each country had done their best in order to show the most interesting parts of their cultures. Every evening a dose of more or less general knowledge regarding particular country was presented. Next, divided into national teams, we were solving interactive quizzes, afterwards we tasted little samples of local cuisines. Those national evenings were often a pretext for further conversations, concerning ethnical minorities, political situation, traditions and customs or daily life in our countries.

Taking into account how general and at the same time delicate topic we were dealing with is, the trainer did all she could to make us experience fully situations of discrimination. Therefore several times method of simulation had been used. Firstly, we had to prepare a trip after incarnating the roles of e.g. diagnosed with AIDS, homeless, ex-convicted, bi- or transsexuals. Other learning by doing activity consisted on getting in touch with people with extremely different cultural background. The task was more difficult as we had thought, but at some point we understood that the only way of dealing with that situation is to compromise, so we were able to interact with each other. Thanks to another activity, throughout opportunities and daily struggles of people with very high or very low social status were showed, we realised how meaningful it is, where, when, where and in which surrounding we were born.
Erasmus + key competences were exercised by us twice: at the beginning and at the end of the project. Through preparing short scenes – in the form of theatre and by grabbing few videos – we presented all what we were learning in more or less conscious way during following days of youth exchange.

Even though the project lasted only for a few days, Romanian hosting organisation made all possible efforts in order to use the time as effective as we could, so they kept us in pleasant atmosphere, full of energy and will to work. Beside exploring topic of the project, starting some international friendships and practising English, we learned a lot about our culture, place in the world and last but not least – about ourselves.

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