There are numerous kinds of discrimination – it can be based on age, color, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation and many more. Most probably every single person on this planet every day either becomes a victim of discrimination or witnesses some kind of discrimination without even realizing it. Even I was not realizing it before I participated in few Erasmus+ youth exchanges which were connected with this topic.
The first project I’m going to talk about is called “Europeans against racism and intolerance” which took place in Poland, Murzasichle in the period 11-18 March, 2018. It gathered 42 youngsters from 6 European countries – Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Turkey. The project was mainly focused on the topic of Migration and Refugee crisis. Apart from the energizers and different non-formal games we had a lot of discussions and even debates where everyone was freely expressing his/her opinion. We built very fast an environment where every single opinion was heard and respected, even though most of the time there were disagreements. I think that one of the good practices in the elimination of discrimination is indeed the freedom of expressing one’s opinion and not being judged by other people. Respect is the key of humanity’s bright future.
The second aspect of the project that I really loved and learned a lot from was the presentations of each country about the refugee crisis. In Bulgaria nowadays we don’t actually have a crisis, at least not as big as the one in Germany, for example. This is why most Bulgarians think that we don’t have refugees. Other Bulgarians think that refugees are not our problem as long as they don’t cause problems or don’t live in our country. If I got a dollar for every single time I heard the expression – “Who cares where they go, as long as they don’t stay here”, I would have been rich by now. Learning more about the refugee situation in other countries actually opened my eyes for the problem. Even though we don’t see it on television, on the news, or in social media, the problem exists, it’s there, we can do so much about it because we are all human beings and it’s our duty to help others. It warmed my heart when I saw that all the participants in the project were people who shared my belief that we MUST do something to solve the problem and help people in need.
The second project I’m going to tell you about is called “IntegART” which took place in Spain, Murcia during the period 15-24 September, 2018. It gathered 30 people from 6 different countries – Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Lithuania and Spain, but we also had representatives of Ghana, India, Russia and Ecuador. We had huge cultural diversity. We managed to identify different types of discrimination with a slightly different approach – through art. We had the freedom to express ourselves, our thoughts and believes using music, dances, painting, theater and so on. We even had a day that was devoted to LGBT community – a topic very unfamiliar to most of the participants. I had the opportunity to enlarge my horizon.
The thing that I most like about this project was the meeting with refugees and our art exhibition devoted to discrimination that we shared with them. We met people from Nigeria, Algeria, Papua New Guinea and Tunisia. We even did some energizers with them. Even though we had a language barrier we managed to communicate with these amazingly brave people and we had the honor to hear their stories. They totally fell in love with our art pieces. We all learned that after all we are human beings dealing with the same existential problems, no matter the color of out skins or the places we come from. Another practice of fighting discrimination that I think is one of the most successful is meeting people who have experienced discrimination and hearing their stories. This experience can totally change a person’s view of the world and actually make him/her do something meaningful. The world can be changed by setting an example.
And don’t forget what Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”