The many faces of EU

"At the end of summer, when we saw the call on Facebook for an 11-day-long project in Athens, we could not resist applying. The location of the project was not the only motivation for our application; the other incentive was the project’s theme, as it covered serious and highly debated issues of our lives. These issues were related to diversity, democracy, tolerance, xenophobia and racism.

After we got the emails that we were the lucky ones that were selected, we started to make the necessary preparations for our journey. Just when the weather started to get a little bit too autumnal in Hungary, we got on our planes. After a short flight, we arrived in the land of endless sunshine, where temperatures below 20 degrees count as mere myths.

On the first morning, when we went to have our breakfast on the roof terrace of the hotel, we realised that our stay would not only be bestowed with impeccable weather but also with a stunning view over the city of Athens. Later it turned out that this terrace was the place where we held many of the activities during this project.

Another venue of the activities were the streets of the city themselves, as we often wandered around the town while interviewing people, doing treasure hunts or visiting NGOs. Getting to know the NGOs, in particular, aroused our interest, as we met these fantastic local people that are helping others who are in need (e.g. people with severe mental impairment, homeless people or people with immigrational backgrounds).

These were, however, not the only times when we got the chance to discover the immemorial history, the sensational markets or the remarkable heterogeneity of people and cultures that this city has to offer. Whenever we were free to explore, we immersed ourselves in the life of Athens and visited both the quintessential and off-centre sites and parts of the city.

During the activities and workshops in the hotel, we endeavoured ourselves to determine our own identity, conversed on stereotypes, the difficulties and positive role of refugees and why diversity is essential for the sustention of modern societies. These activities aimed to make us consider a broader range of angles of these phenomena.

Furthermore, each participant had the opportunity to present their countries during the intercultural nights. If the knowledge of a participant regarding the languages, traditional dances and music and customs of another participating country is limited, these intercultural nights serve excellent means to become acquainted with them more profoundly.

We also had the time to visit the ancient oracle of Delphi, which is located on the south-western slope of Mount Parnassus. Already in the course of our journey, we could not stop admiring the wondrous nature that surrounded us. When we arrived, we were indeed hypnotised by the historical and cultural significance, the tranquillity and picturesqueness of this ancient sanctuary and its environs.

While for some of us, this project was the first youth exchange, a few of us even had the chance to meet people that we met on previous projects. Either way, first or umpteenth, these projects can always introduce something new to us, the long-lasting effects of which keep shaping our lives and mindsets.

In closing, we want to express our gratitude to the team of Youth Bridges Budapest and DreamTeam (our sending and hosting organisations) and to the Erasmus+ for the opportunity to take part in this project."

Alexandra Kovács, Sejla Abdulmaati, Viktória Rácz, Zeneb Elbindari, Ákos Pénzes and Benedek Szabó

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The Youth Exchange 'The many faces of EU' addressed the need to increase the capacity of youth organizations to address issues related to racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance through mutual learning and exchange of good practices; improve the interaction between young people coming from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds and strengthen intercultural dialogue that can contribute to EU cohesion.

The main main aim of the Youth Exchange was to develop solidarity and promote tolerance among young people. During the 9 activity days, participants worked on the topic of social inclusion of minorities, discussed the positive role of refugees in our societies; raised awareness through inter-religious & intercultural dialogue and came up with solutions and actions through which youth can increase social cohesion and intercultural awareness in the European Union.

The learning outcomes of this Youth Exchange are:

  • raise awareness of the issue of xenophobia and other forms of discrimination;

  • promote intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding;

  • develop Critical Thinking skills in order to combat hate speech and discriminatory discourses;

  • acquire, through direct immersion in the intercultural reality of Athens, a comprehension of the factors that may result in xenophobia;

  • find solutions to the above-mentioned factors;

  • promote EU values;

  • support mutual learning and exchange of good practices in the field of social inclusion;

  • gain awareness of the plight of minorities and immigrants in Europe, as well as of the challenges that both the state and society face in dealing with these groups;

  • be empowered to fight the effects of rising nationalism and xenophobia;

  • facilitate intercultural dialogue among people from different cultural backgrounds;

  • build networks of international contacts, to actively participate in society and to develop one feeling of citizenship and European identity;

  • promote Erasmus+ Programme and Youthpass;

  • promote European cooperation in the youth field.

Date: 1-11 November 2019

Participating countries: Greece, Italy, Romania, Spain, Lithuania and Hungary.

We delegated 5 participants (age 18-30) and a group leader to the project.

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