In November 16-23, 2019, 42 participants from six countries: Georgia, Hungary, Armenia, Italy, Ukraine, Latvia, had a unique chance to participate in the Erasmus+ youth exchange project "Challenge diversity" organised by Civil Development and Research Institute and Youth Bridges Budapest. The project took place in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The main goal of “Challenge Diversity” was to make youngsters of various cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic background gather and interchange ideas to support developing of democratic and inclusive society. The duration of the program was seven days, which provided various opportunities to develop key competences: Communication in foreign languages, Learning to learn, Social and civic competences, Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship and Cultural awareness and expression. Besides participants improved time management and decision making skills by establishing variety of indoor and outdoor activities.
The goal was not only gaining knowledge, but also developing social skills, such as critical thinking, group working and problem solving.
Armenian Group leader Karen Ghazaryan noted the importance of the program was that the participants were free to interact with each other. The friendly and tolerant atmosphere which started from the first day and lasted until the end was crucial. As he said: “The main achievement for me, besides gaining new ideas, was to start to get to know other cultures closer. Huge benefit of the project was that I made good friends from different countries. The effectiveness of any program can be measured after the end of the project, I consider Challenge Diversity successful because I keep in touch with many of the participants up to date and we plan to work together to organize a new project.”
The main difficulty the participants might encounter throughout this kind of projects, could be the distinct classification of the tasks and responsibilities. As the project participants noted, this project was different from many other ones, because it did not have any problems and obstacles. The activities were divided in advance between national groups according to days, so that all international and national teams were very well integrated, coordinated and cooperative.
“Challenge diversity” gave me a huge experience and a lot of positive emotions. I met new people from Italy, Armenia, Latvia, Hungary and Ukraine. We shared our knowledge and information about our countries and traditions. Out of many interesting activities I would distinguished one that aimed to understand the idea of tolerance and how different people from different cultures have very diverse understanding of it. Despite so many differences, in the end of the project we became one big family. That was an amazing experience,”- Tamar Tsiklauri Georgian participant told us.
According to Sandra Varju (Youth Bridges Budapest), this project was significant by the fact that you could not find groups separated by their nationalities. During both the indoor and outdoor activities including organizing open space activities, the groups were formed on the multicultural basis.
Aslan Mikeladze (participant, CDRI) the project was an opportunity to gain knowledge and skill in intercutural dialogue, tolerance, diversity and inclusivness. Participants enhanced their knowledge about different cultures, traditions through Cultural Evenings organized by the national teams.
Aslan Artmeladze a representative of Civil development and Research Institute highlights the importance of Erasmus+ youth exchange programs. “It is a huge motivation for young people to develop inter-cultural skills and get to know different ideas from different people - which is huge encouragement for youth economic and social development,”- he said.
Throughout the project, we broadened horizon for bringing positive changes withing the societies. Except the planned agenda, we had extra curricula activities: teams of journalists, experts, social media managers, paparazzi were working during breaks to gather maximum possible outcome from the project. We also discussed future cooperation in terms of planning and implementing other youth projects and create more opportunities for youth to actively participate in shaping our society.
Taking into account opinions and ideas shared by the participants and organizers we can surely come up with the statement, that Challenge Diversity was successfully implemented project. This kind of Erasmus+ programs are important in developing individuals from different parts of the world as confident and open-minded members of the society, who are ready to face challenge diversity and contribute to the formation of the society which respects values of democracy, tolerance and human rights.
A primary goal of Challenge Diversity youth exchange was to help participants become respectful of the multitudes of cultures and people that they’ll interact with. The project showed that cultural differences are to be cherished and appreciated rather than judged and feared and cultural diversity is more advantage rather disadvantage. We sought to make youngsters more open-minded, tolerant, respectful to human rights and integrated with other youngsters with diverse cultural and national background. We believe we created a space for intercultural dialogue where the youth with different national and cultural background will gather, share skills and experience, launch communication and develop open minded approaches to the diversity.
To increase intercultural awareness and dialogue by promoting diversity through unity;
To raise awareness on common values of democracy, tolerance and respect of human rights and EU founding values;
To foster dialogue among youngsters with different cultural background and get rid of cultural conflicts;
To discover new cultures and lifestyles and promote active citizenship.
We aimed to improve participants lifelong skills during the project:
Better communication in multicultural environment;
Confidence and self-believe;
Listening to different viewpoints and taking them into account;
Understanding the difference from the positive point of view.
We addressed the development and improvement of each of the skills during the different activities organised in the framework of the project such as ice-breaking games, group exercises, role plays, name games, warm-up exercises, networking games, problem-solving and communication activities. We concentrated on the informal learning as the best way to engage young people from different backgrounds to involve actively and share their experiences as well as develop strong friendship and trust within each other. Different cultural situations enhanced their understanding and tolerance, thus, encourage them to benefit the project fully. Other social events were included like intercultural evenings, lunches, sport and fun activities, breaks to socialize partners with each other and create the common network which gains project sustainability in the future.