VMIG group photo

Study sessions supported by the European Youth Centres of the Council of Europe are a great opportunity for EFIL/AFS to explore issues and partnerships which are not yet much tackled within the exchange networks. This time we have embarked onto a topic of growing importance: local cultural diversity and how it relates to the context of AFS programmes.

Between 8 and 15 February 2015 a group of 35 youth workers met in the European Youth Centre in Budapest in an event entitled “Intercultural Learning with migrants and minorities – exchange organisations exploring a new dimension”. A bit more than half of the group came from the AFS organisations. The other participants represented two different networks: Voices of Young Refugees in Europe (VYRE) and Phiren Amenca, an organisation promoting Roma & non-Roma dialogue through voluntary service programmes. Together they constituted a very diverse and fascinating mix of backgrounds:  more than half of the group were migrants or ethnic minorities!

The first point of contact was established between the three organisational networks present. A number of possibilities for long-term cooperation were identified, from local, through national, till international level. For many of the participants it was the first time they were exposed to issues dealt by the other organisations, so their level of awareness and understanding in these areas increased substantially.

The key issues discussed during the event included:

– different priorities and ways of working of the 3 organisational networks present,

– concepts of Intercultural Learning, Human Rights Education, Global Education in the work of our organisations,

– issues do minorities and migrants face in our societies,

– specific problems of refugees and Roma (given the profiles of VYRE and Phiren Amenca)

– exploring local organisations’ in work with migrants/minorities (local field visits in Budapest)

– strengths, needs and possible synergies of the organisations present

– possible ways to cooperate between these organisations.

The most important outcomes were the very concrete follow-up projects developed. Next to a range of ideas on the more general level, there were 11 specific action plans in principle involving synergies between work with minorities/migrants and AFS exchanges. Some of them assume getting in touch with relevant partners at local level when going back home. Some others involve the individuals present in the study session across the organisational networks. We are looking forward to these plans being put into practice in the participants’ countries!

The event was prepared and facilitated by a group of experienced trainers: Gabor Csikos from AFS Hungary, Fareeda Atwan from AFS Egypt, Rodrigo Alves from AFS Portugal and Marietta Herfort from Phiren Amenca. They were assisted by Ragip Zik from the Council of Europe and by Izabela Jurczik-Arnold from EFIL’s side. The whole project was a result of a partnership between EFIL and the Council of Europe, and the organizational support of the European Youth Centre was essential for the event success.

For more information: [email protected]