Refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers and newcomers often brought new skills, talents and aspirations that had 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 high school students in most Slovenian regions, fuelled by the media and public opinion. The aim of the project was to make an opportunity for creative personal contact between newcomers and primary-high school students that had 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 was an urgent need to develop strategies that allowed 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 was thus necessary to create links, networks and platforms between newcomers and local environments. In this project we particularly focused on schools that have recently faced concerning rates of xenophobia, prejudice and discrimination. Already during the implementation phase the project gained positive recognition and dissemination, so the activities had 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 pop culture.
Interactive activity, 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, jewellery 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.