17th – 24th April 2018
Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
«Bring the Change» is a youth exchange project which involved 30 participants from Cyprus, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Estonia, who met in Cagliari, Sardinia from 17th until 24th April 2018 to discuss how to struggle against racism, xenophobia and combat marginalization. The project was co-funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Union, and hosted by the Association SarditineraOnlus, an NGO which mainly deals with the implementation of initiatives in the cultural and educational field; Whereas the local NGO which supported this initiative was PlanBe Plan It, which aims in developing the personal and professional competences of young Cypriots. The Cyprus team were Skevi, George, Andreas, Jean and Alvertos.
While Europe is transforming into an even more multicultural continent, in combination with the immigration wave and economic crisis, we are daily facing an escalation of the phenomena of racism, discrimination and social exclusion of those disadvantaged in any social term.
At this project we had the chance to have a deep close up into these phenomena through the methods of non-formal education. The seminar activities included brain storming, plenary discussions, simulations, role plays, team building, energizers, icebreakers, and many others. Learning by doing, gave us the chance to approach the problem from a different angle; Through role plays we get into the problem and felt how it is to be socially excluded, whether you are an immigrant or a person with disabilities in a non tolerant social environment.
A group of 30 people gathered together to discuss what does it mean to be socially inclusive?
Communities that enable all citizens to play a full and useful role in the social, economic and cultural life of their community are likely to be healthier than those where people face insecurity, exclusion and deprivation. Cypriot and Estonian team cooperate to represent to the other groups the role of multimedia tools in our lives, the risks involved and how we can use them to promote social inclusion. Video and photo workshops followed, whereas we blend in with the locals, take interviews audio or video recorded and present them.
The scope of the programme was to enhance our awareness regarding social exclusion discussed and exchange views and ideas on the issue. Especially, we had the chance to identify the vulnerable categories of people that are excluded from each society of every European country that participated the project. The final results showed that individuals who are excluded from modern societies are more or less the same around Europe. Social racism, sex discrimination, religion, people with disabilities and immigrants are some categories of the social exclusion.
After discussion we came up with some factors that could effectively contribute to the elimination of the problem and the inclusion of the excluded groups; Mixing up people with different educational and societal backgrounds and mentalities could lead to innovative solutions in many factors of the society, traveling around the globe and discovering different mentalities could increase our tolerance, empathy and understanding, whereas learning a new language could be a powerful communication tool for bringing together people from different countries. Of course intercultural nights played a major role in realizing that we have more commons with other cultures that we previously thought; Discovering traditional food, drinks and through sharing special ingredients of our cultural identity, gave us the chance to bridge the gap, understand each other and make strong and hopefully long lasting friendships. So it is time to bring down the social barriers, overcome the social stereotypes and become able to accept different idiosyncrasies.
Through this experience we learned how to work in groups with people from different countries, and came up with great results, we developed new ways of seeing things after experiencing and interacting with local people in Cagliari, that felt socially excluded. The whole experience was amazing and inspiring. Now we are looking forward to share and also put into test the skills we have developed, also the memories, the thoughts we gained during the trip. We are looking forward to make similar workshops or events in Cyprus, so people can get more informed and be more aware of certain local social problems, in order to be able to focus on the possible solutions. All of us thank this organization for this amazing, life changing experience and we hope that it will continue the great work that it’s been performing.