United in Diversity

UNITED IN DIVERSITY: YOUTH EXCHANGE, 2-10 December 2019

Aims & Objectives

Through the project “United in Diversity”, Mladinsko društvo moja Sobota, in collaboration with 5 project partners, brought together 36 young people from different countries to jointly achieve the following goals:

  • Enhance social responsibility towards cultural heritage
  • Promote recognition of local, national and European cultural heritage
  • Foster cultural awareness and expression
  • Adopt learning practices, attitudes and values that help participants acknowledge different facets of discrimination & prevent, mediate, or reduce their negative consequences
  • Cultivate various key transferrable skills of the young participants, such as team-work, decision making and active participation

Project Partners

Country Organization
Slovenia Mladinsko društvo moja Sobota (Coordinator)
Greece Entrepreneurship and Social Economy Group
Hungary Youth Bridges Budapest
Italy Identities
Romania Balkan History Association
Ukraine The Oriental Studies Circle

 

Workshops & Activities

During the 9 fascinating days of the project, which were hosted in a beautiful castle from 14th century (!) the participants got the chance to take part in a series of interactive and creative workshops, discussions, debate simulations, team-building and role-play games, cultural visits, intercultural exchange activities, and generally non-formal education activities.

Let’s have a look in the great experiences our “United in Diversity” participants had over the course of the project:

DAY 1 & 2 – Getting to know eachother & Erasmus+

On the first day, after the arrivals, & the second day of the program the participants got to know each other and the partner organizations, shared their expectations, fears and desired contributions with the group and were introduced to the project’s thematic with a workshop on Erasmus+ opportunities, and a brainstorming about European Diversity!

“It is my first Erasmus+ and my first time in Slovenia. I can improve my English and meet different people. That is wonderful!” – Gabriele, Italy

DAY 3 – Exploring European Cultural Heritage

On the third day, the young participants made a journey across the “European map of Diversity” exploring linguistic, cultural, historical differences and similarities, as well as ethnic minorities in different European countries.

They also talked about European symbols with a common, special meaning to all citizens of EU-member states, and closed the day presenting, in national groups, traditions, major historical events, celebrations, and a wide-range of other cultural elements special to their country!

DAY 4 – Exploring Ljubljana & the House of the European Union

After some days of intensive workshops, the young participants went out to explore Slovenia’s capital, beautiful Ljubljana. During their visit the team visited the House of European Union, where the participants were explained about the inner workings of the EU, about EU policies and opportunities for youth, and EU programs and initiatives for the preservation and recognition of  the special cultural heritage  of the different countries and ethnic groups of Europe. The participants also played a quiz about general knowledge on the European Union and had a workshop about cultural heritage  at the House of European Union.

 

DAY 5 – St. Nicolas Fair & Visit to a near Roma village

The next day the group of young participants went out to explore Murska Sobota in a creative and team-building way: splitted in teams they had to “treasure hunt” for various elements of the local traditions and culture, experiencing the city through the eyes of locals!

In the afternoon of the same day they visited a Roma village near Murska Subota, where they could donate toys, clothes, hygiene products etc, which they brought from home.

“The best moment of this project for me was the day when we went to Ljubljana. We separated from the group and walked on our own. We’ve met people and talked t o them. We met a   homeless woman who was walking her dogs. She told about the way she views the world. You go out; you see beautiful places, you meet different people – for me, this is the most beautiful part of the Erasmus+. You get out of your little box, and that’s the wonderful thing.” – Aggelos, Greece

DAY 6 – Refugees & minorities

On the middle of the project, it was time to delve deeper into the project’s subject. At first, all participants presented, in national groups, the existing minorities and the situation with refugees in their home countries. The presentations were followed by a lively discussion on a variety of subjects, including the migration crisis and the associated challenges faced by European countries, the worrisome upsurge of the far-right and polarization within Europe, as well as ways through which youth could be involved in the promotion of diversity and the struggle against racism.

After that the participants examined the dominant religions in Europe, and their major influence on today’s society, art, culture and philosophy, as well as religious minorities in the participating countries that complement Europe’s colorful mosaic!  During the last part of the discussion, the team examined the various stereotypes associated with different religious groups, and tried to see the consequences from the affected groups’ perspective.

“Tolerance for me is to accept people the way they are. I used to have problems accepting other people. After this project I believe that I am going to be more open towards other people. I really strengthen my friendship with my best friend on this project.” – Ábrahám, Hungary

During the afternoon and after the “heavy”-subject conversations of the morning, the group had the chance to inspire their imagination and express their creativity through baking, Christmas handicrafts  & video workshops. More specifically, participants were divided in different mixed groups: one group prepared cookies for the opening of the project’s photo exhibition in the final evening of the project,  another created Christmas garlands to decorate a family centre for the Christmas holidays, another worked on the project’s video (“It’s erasmus, Baby!” – see below, Day 7) and the final group helped to prepare dissemination article and a magazine with stories.

DAY 7 – Anti-Hate Speech Campaign

On Day 7, with the end of the project approaching, the now diverse & united team of participants joined forces to spread their messages to the local community! They together organized an “Anti-Discrimination & Anti-Hate Speech” campaign and distributed the poster which they created in social media.

“Although it sounds trivial, I cannot help but saying: Don’t judge! Love and accept yourselves, guys!” – Yulia, Ukraine

In the afternoon, the same day, the participants got creative, and separated in different “mission” groups: photo-, video-, journalism-, art-, culinary-, booklet- and dissemination teams. Thanks to the great work of all teams, we can have a glimpse of the amazing things that happened during “United in Diversity” project, as well as a taste of the Erasmus+ spirit that all young people around Europe have the chance to enjoy benefiting from!

 

Apart from this video, the participants produced a great article with lots of useful information for all young people interested to try out the Erasmus+ experience!

Click here for the “Article of the Project” to find out more on Erasmus+ projects, from an insider’s perspective, through the words of the participants themselves!

DAY 8 – United in Diversity Photo Exhibition

The crowning moment of the project! As a way to make young people’s voices heard, and leave an impact in the local & international community before leaving Slovenia, the 36 participants cooperated to create an exhbition of their personal stories, testimonies, messages of solidarity and hopes for the future, which was hosted in Hotel Diana in the centre of Murska Sobota, inaugurated on the final evening of the project, and remained open to the public for 2 months.

The portraits of the participants created a colorful pallete representing Europe’s youth: composed by unique individuals -each with their own image, style, interests, life route and personality – who are all linked together by the same need; to be accepted as they are, and the same dream; to live in a society where everyone is accepted for who they are.

As the motto of  photo exhibition goes, Each story is unique. Each voice matters. 

To hear those voices, and listen to those stories click here for the link with the full material of “United in Diversity” photo exhibition!

DAY 9 – Final Evaluation and Departures

The final day of the program was devoted to evaluation, reflection, connection and some relaxation. The team could discuss their impressions and learning outcomes from the project, reflect on their experiences, fill in their Youthpasses and their last moments with their newly found friends!

“In projects like Erasmus+, I really appreciate that you can learn a lot. And afterwards, when you are thinking about it, you remember smiles and the moments of laughter that you’ve shared with other people, and that is precious indeed.” – Nicolae, Romania

Intercultural Evenings

Of course, an inseparable part of this Youth Exchange were also the intercultural evenings, during which participants came in contact with other cultures through all the senses. They got to know phrases, customs and (fun) facts about the others’ cultures, see their friends in the traditional costumes of their countries & tasting local delicacies, hear traditional music and learn folk dances!

All in all, during the 9 days of “United in Diversity” project the young participants had the chance to grow personally, socially and professionaly; change the way they see the world, as a more inviting and exciting place full of great people in their diversity, as well as the way they see themselves in the world, as more motivated, solidary and proactive components of the European community!

Special thanks to

Thank you Mladinsko društvo moja Sobota team for making this project happen and offering our participants an amazing educational experience and lots of wonderful memories!

And of course, thank you Aggele, Zoi, Mavina, Menelae, Kyriaki & Maria, members of team Greece, for being so collaborative, creative, open-minded and spirited participants, making this project richer with your presence!