Refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers and newcomers often bring new skills, talents and aspirations that have a potential of becoming great contributions to the new social context. On the other hand, we noticed growing examples of xenophobia, prejudice and discrimination amongst elementary and highschool students in most Slovenian regions, fueled by the media and public opinion. The aim of the project was to make an opportunity for creative personal contact between newcomers and primary-highschool students that has the power of fostering empathy, reflexivity and understanding of the issue of migration.
With large numbers of refugees fleeing conflict and violence and reaching all the way to Europe, there is an urgent need to develop strategies that allow them at once to be included in European societies, while at the same time retaining a sense of their own identity, and a pride in their cultural roots. It is thus necessary to create links, networks and platforms between newcomers and local environments. In this project we particulary focused on schools that recently face concerning rates of xenophobia, prejudice and discrimination. Already during the implementation phase the project gained positive recognition and dissemination, so the activities have also spread to summer festivals, reaching wider audience than initially planned. Overall, the project has involved 10 schools and 8 festivals.
Upon visiting schools and festivals, the project’s activities took place in the following order:
Powerpoint lecture/ presentation of positive migrant/refugee contribution to new cultural contexts throughout the history, politics, literature, arts, science and popo culture
Interactive actvity, group work (board game, cards with migration issue)
A set of workshops led by persons with asylum-seekers and refugee status (henna painting workshops, juggling and acrobatics, jewelery making, iranian rap and hip-hop, african dance …)
Full day program was provided on requests. It included a projection of issue-related film (in cooperation with Kinodvor) and a migrant-lead tour in local environment, focusing on migrant’s contribution to the cultural heritage of the place.