EVS-European Coloured Glasses
Date du début: 8 août 2015,
Date de fin: 7 août 2016
YFU was founded in 1951 and started with yearlong high school exchanges between the US and Germany. The goal was to combat prejudice and increase understanding between the two countries. The objective of the organization remains the same today; by giving young individuals an opportunity for non-formal learning about intercultural understanding, their changed attitudes and increased knowledge would influence their family, their local environment and the larger society of which they are part. This can in turn create a more open, tolerant society with less prejudice and racism.
With many European countries facing financial difficulties and youth unemployment rates being sky high, there is an anti-immigrant, anti-minority mood that has gripped Europe with right wing, anti-immigrant political parties gaining support. In such a context it is more likely that minority groups are targeted as scapegoats, and the probability of hate speech, intolerance and racism increase. While Norway mainly has been spared from the economic crisis, we see the same tendencies of attitudes towards immigrants and minorities here; the recent public debate in Norway concerning immigrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea serves as an example of this tendency.
In YFU we see a need for greater intercultural understanding in both Europe and Norway. While YFU Norway primarily promote intercultural learning and understanding through high school exchange, we only send an average of 80 Norwegian secondary school pupils on exchange each year. Many Norwegian youth do not have the possibility to participate in a full year program, because of their economically, socially or geographically disadvantaged backgrounds.
To address this challenge, we want to conduct a workshop on intercultural understanding in Norwegian secondary schools. Several YFU organizations within the YFU network have created the manual “Coloured Glasses: a Resource Manual for Intercultural Education”, which contains instructions on how to create a workshop on intercultural learning. The workshop has its name from the analogy of sunglasses as cultural filters; our culture colours how we see the world.
2 EVS volunteers from Germany and Belgium will help carry out the project. They will receive training upon arrival, and will also be prepared by their sending organizations, YFU Germany and YFU Belgium. We prefer volunteers who are close in age to the secondary school pupils who make up our target group, as previous experience show that they connect more easily with the pupils. They will also train, encourage and help the Norwegian volunteers already active in the organization, to involve them in holding workshops. We prefer EVS volunteers with a YFU background because they have already gained valuable intercultural understanding through their exchange, and because this makes it easier for them to bond with our Norwegian volunteers.
The impact for the project participants is mainly that the 2 EVS volunteers will gain knowledge and skills, and all the volunteers in the organization will improve their knowledge and skills through training and practice aided by the EVS volunteers. The EVS volunteers will return to their sending organizations with an extensive experience that increase the competences within YFU Germany and Belgium. In the long term this will help all 3 organizations to continue conducting these workshops and thereby increasing the potential outreach of the workshops in future.
For the target group, Norwegian secondary school pupils, the goal of the workshop is not to provide answers, but through exercises create a basis for the pupils to reflect on how culture influences our view of the world. The exercises are designed to give the participants some a-ha moments and thereby inspire discussion and reflection, and what often happens with non-formal learning is that the lesson grows over time as one reflects upon it. Hopefully, the pupils will gain greater insight into their own cultural viewpoint and thereby greater understanding of how culture affects everyone.
This increased intercultural competence is not only a useful tool for youth when navigating in an increasingly culturally diverse home country and world, our goal is that through understanding why people from different cultures think in different ways, racism and xenophobia among the youth we target will be reduced.
While the method is different from our main activity, the objective is the same; by creating a non-formal learning setting in which youth can gain understanding on how their culture shape how they see the world, we take a step towards creating a more open and tolerant society. These are the potential long term benefits.
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