"Parallel Lives" — Donegal, Ireland
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Project Idea and Results
“Parallel Lives 2, Moving Forward Together” is a multilateral youth exchange under the Youth in Action Program. The project brought 30 people from Ireland, Turkey, Germany and Bulgaria together for a week between 30 October and 6 November 2009. The idea of the project was to encourage youth activists from Ireland, Bulgaria, Turkey and Germany to work together towards equality and inclusion. The various activities aimed to stimulate multiculturalism and cooperation between different nations and cultures. The major goal for the participants was to come up with ideas of how to implement good practices back in their communities.
By focusing on how community apathy, and acceptance of institutionalised and entrenched discriminatory practices feed the continued disenfranchisement and marginalisation of certain groups within our society and communities, the youth had a chance to put together a template for intercultural learning and measures, which will encourage youth within our network of partners both in Europe and beyond, to become Ambassadors for Equality and Inclusion.
Another basic concept of the European Commission Youth in Action Programme, accomplished in Bundoran, Ireland was to stimulate young people to master the skills of problem-solving, inter-cultural communication , implementation and evaluation by using the tools of non-formal education . Participants were involved in role play, outdoor activities, informal discussions and project design which all required team work, creativity and a high degree of cooperation and thus triggered interaction and helped participants to learn more about each other and each other’s culture.
In addition the project aimed to raise awareness about equality issues and provoke participants to search solutions to them. The representatives of the different countries had to share experience from their countries of origin and to suggest solutions to problems related to racism, discrimination and inequality. The idea was to exchange good practices and see how they can be implemented in reality. The role-play activity Immigration Office was very successful in this respect. It gave the participants the chance to gain first-hand experience about problems faced by refugees and immigrants. The activity triggered profound discussions. The young people described it as very enlightening and emotional as it made them empathize with people who find themselves in similar situations in reality.
An important aspect of the project was to bring home the message that it is not competition that we should concentrate on but cooperation. A very interesting and non-conventional activity was introduced by the German group to demonstrate that – Street Soccer. The game stressed fair play, teamwork, tolerance and equality. After the game everyone had almost forgotten about winning or losing and simply enjoyed the game – without violence, aggression or rude behavior. It was generally agreed that the Street Soccer was among the most interesting and useful activities.
As already mentioned, a major idea behind the Parallel Lives 2 Project was to enhance multiculturalism and intercultural communication. Apart from all the scheduled activities, participants from all countries had their own Cultural Evening. Each group was given the chance to organize a cultural evening and to present the country in an interesting and ingenious way . National cuisine, traditional music and dances were presented together with the social and historical background of the respective country. The cultural evenings were not only extremely entertaining but also very educational and enriching.
Another goal of the project was for the participants to make templates for intercultural learning. For this purpose participants were divided into small mixed groups. Each group had to come up with an idea about the project and to work towards its implementation. During this activity the participants developed their decision-making skills, their creativity and their ability to work in a team of multicultural character. This project helped the young people to find that though we may all be different we have something in common and we can achieve good results as long as we learn to work together. The activity received a very positive feedback and gave wonderful results as each group had different ideas and managed to present a finished product. Posters, videos, vox pop and a school presentation were some of the final products. They will all be published on the face book page of the project and the participants committed to further develop them and implement them in their local communities.
As a whole, Parallel Lives 2 has been very successful not only in achieving its predetermined goals, such as raising awareness about equality, designing project templates for intercultural learning and encouraging young people to be the “ambassadors” of equality in their local communities, but also in encouraging people to seek ways to cooperate with each other for a common goal despite any cultural, national or ethnical differences. It can be concluded that the project’s most valuable result was the fact that participants learned how to appreciate diversity. Parallel Lives 2 in Ireland initiated some good practices, which hopefully will be extended to local communities and will lead to positive results.