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International Encounters: Demining the field, digging treasures
Start date: May 4, 2016, End date: Dec 3, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

International encounters are usually seen as a promising way for young people to increase their intercultural understanding. One of the main hopes connected with providing those opportunities is that by meeting and interacting with people from different countries (and therefore perceived different cultures) young people will increase their understanding of other systems of behaviors, norms and values and will develop a more positive attitude towards cultural diversity. During the last decade this conception has been put into question from different sides as its strong focus on a seemingly homogenous national culture becomes doubtful under a closer look. On the other hand it would also be problematic to neglect the concept of culture at all, as cultural differences form a potential source of misunderstandings, tensions, conflicts of values and communication problems. Youth workers active in the field are therefore having the challenging task to not see every situation through the 'cultural lens' without becoming 'culture blind' and therefore neglecting the influence of cultural backgrounds completely. Without going into the details of the debate it is also clear that the way how the topic of cultural diversity is addressed by the organizers forms a crucial aspects on how young people will actually perceive their experiences in an international setting. The attitudes and competences of youth leaders therefore have a direct impact on what young people will take out of their international experience and to what extent they will get encouraged to develop a reflected point of view on the topic. Another challenge during international encounters lies in increasing geo-politcal tensions, especially in the EECA partner region, which can influence the dynamic of an international project.The training course "Intercultural Encounters: Demining the field, digging treasures" is therefore aiming at giving 26 youth leaders from program and EECA partner countries, who are involved in the organization of international youth encounters the chance to develop the necessary competences to deal with challenges that arise from differences in the cultural background of participants while at the same time making young people look beyond static and homogenizing perceptions of the other.The specific objectives of the project are:• To develop the competences of youth workers and youth leaders in organizing, facilitating and animating international youth encounters • To give participants a deeper insight in theory and practice of Intercultural Learning as well as equipping them with new and innovative tools in the field• To senistize the participants about possible lines of conflicts in the international field and ways of dealing them during international youth encounters• To develop follow-up projects for young people in the framework of Erasmus+, during which the participants will make use of their new training competencesThe methodological design of the project will be based on the ideals of non-formal education and is designed in a way to make best use of the potential and experiences of the participants. The working methods will combine inputs with interactive sessions based solely on the contributions and experiences of the participants to make best use of their potential. The project will result in an increased competences of the participating youth workers/leader to facilitate high quality international encounters. It will therefore have a strong, positive impact on the future projects, organised by the participating youth workers and the participating youth, who will have a chance to have an enriching intercultural experience. On a long-term, the project will contribute to the quality of international and intercultural youth work on a European level through the strong multiplying effect achieved through its conception.
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