”Meeting the other” – Erasmus+ project
Concepts of intercultural learning (ICL) are often focused on preparing individuals to get ready for an encounter with something that is different than their usual environment. To categorize this differences, a traditional concept of culture is often applied, which implicitly assumes a strangeness during the encounters of people with a perceived different cultural background.
The project “Meeting the other” wanted to address those aspects in a new light by choosing a different starting point. Instead of focusing on encounters, where people already assume a strangeness it will start from the basic human experience on how we relate to something, which is different from us. This is handled on different levels, starting from the question what can be considered ‘the other’ in ourselves (as we often don’t understand ourselves completely), over how we act towards differences in the outside world to how we react to strangeness and how we actually distinguish it from a general ‘otherness’.
Apart from the related theme of ICL, the project had a strong focus on personal development. One topic, which was reflected on all levels was the limitation we set ourselves through fixed concepts and stereotypical perceptions. On a personal level this includes the exploration of situations in which we surprised ourselves and the habits which sometimes hinder us to think and act ‘out-of the box’. On the inter-personal encounter, it will relate to our limitations in perceiving the other as an unique individual through the constant comparison to previous experiences and the application of stereotypical images.
The projects was consisted of two activities, which were strongly interconnected: the first activity was a training course on above mentioned topics for multipliers who are working with young people in their local context. Some participants from the TC were then afterwards invited to become group leaders and facilitators during a Youth Exchange, which dealt with the same topics but gave more space to the youngsters to reflect on them by making use of artistic forms of expression.
So at the beggining of April 2015, members of APLIC association took part in a training course addressed to youth workers, which was held in Aghveran, Armenia.
The main objectives were to provide a chance for youth workers and youth leaders to reflect on their encounters with ‘the other’ on different levels, to provide participants the chance to tackle the topic of intercultural learning from a new and unusual perspective, to provide youth leaders and youth workers new skills and competences to support youngsters in their personal growth by exploring alternative ways of acting and thinking, to give a chance to young people to reflect about personal topics through artistic forms of expression.
Apart from the related theme of ICL, the project had a strong focus on personal development. One of the most interesting topics, which was reflected on all levels, was the limitation we set ourselves through fixed concepts and stereotypical perceptions.
Youth workers from 10 european countries attended all workshops included in the project, trying to get to know more about themselves, but also more about people arround them.
Due to this training course, young people from 10 different nationalities and ethnic groups participated in a youth exchange in July 2015.
They acted under a common roof for an intercultural dialogue through presentations of various kinds of art, music, film, dance, folklore, traditional games and cuisine. During 2 weeks, there were combined presentations by each country team with collective exercises, during which multinational teams got the possibility to create something new together in a very creative way.