Refugees: Europe's (Missed) Opportunity
Start date: Jan 1, 2016,
End date: Jun 30, 2016
The current European refugee crisis is one of the biggest threats to the European Project, according to Angela Merkel. Thousands of people are flocking to Europe from the war zones in Africa & Middle East. However, more often than not they end up in the place that does not want to use their potential, let alone welcome them. Europeans want them shut in the processing centers or better out in another member state. The question arises: why do not we want this opportunity to grow, develop and advance both in cultural and economic terms? In order to develop awareness to this issue, a project ‘Refugees: Europe’s (Missed) Opportunity’ was hosted in Lithuania on February 21-28, 2016 (+2 days of travel).
The project was implemented by organizations from countries, where the refugees come first (Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey), or they are not welcome (Lithuania and Poland). There were 6 participants from each country (5 participants aged 18-30 + 1 team leader). [Objectives] The main objective of the project was to make youth and general public realize that refugees (when integrated) offer a huge array of skills and potential. Therefore, they should not be treated as a problem.
This aim was reached by: 1) introducing the youth with existing problems caused by keeping the incoming refugees on the fringes of the society; 2) exchanging good practices on refugee-integration; 3) generating new ideas on how to better use their potential; 4) teaching youth how to apply the gained knowledge; and then 5) spreading it to the wider audiences across Europe during the result dissemination activities. Even though the project targeted this one particular issue, it helped the participants to become more active and involved European citizens as well. In order to achieve these objectives, a range of non-formal education methods developed by all the partner organizations were employed. Main activities addressed the aspects of the refugee crisis and were seeking for best outcomes. All the activities used NFE methods and required creative and active participation of the youth in the project. These included but were not limited to: 1) round-table discussions 2) field researches & strategy creations 3) visits to a refugee day center 4) interactive workshops, 5) country presentations, 6) Social business idea challenge, 7) specialized group exercises and simulations, 8) application of art as NFE method, 9) analyses of relevant video materials, 10) pub quizzes, 11) tips & tricks on the Arabic culture, 12) feedbacks, reflections, evaluations and much more. In order to facilitate integration of the participants: 12) cultural evenings, 13) energizers, 14) ice-breaking and socializing activities were also organized. Since the project's goal was to reach the public and disseminate the results effectively: 15) special videos, posters, profile pictures, press releases and 16) e-booklet were prepared by the participants.
All of this ensured that the project would induce a positive effect on the participants, organizations and the target groups in regional, national and international levels. New knowledge on refugee integration, empowerment and use of their potential was acquired by the participants. They also received a number of skills and competences necessary for that. Parallel to that, the youth learned how to debate with others, express themselves, credibly present their arguments, as well as get more self-esteem, which will help them in further life. Likewise, the project helped all the participating organizations grow internationally and reach their objectives of youth development.
Wider public was impacted as well. Firstly, the participants have shared the knowledge acquired throughout the project within their own communities. The results dissemination was also facilitated through involvement of mass-media and spreading of videos and e-booklet prepared during the project. The goal was to increase the general awareness about the refugee potential and the resulting social, economic and cultural benefits. It was calculated that more than 10,000 people were reached on Facebook alone; however, the general reach is thought to be more than double than that (due to active result dissemination online, e.g. on delfi.lt or alfa.lt). In the long-term the expected impact at all levels is to develop greater awareness of refugee-related issues and help Europeans to become more open-minded. Another desirable result would be to encourage businesses to use the potential of refugees. Finally, the project was expected to set a good example, which would promote youth initiatives and implementation of future Erasmus+ actions.
All the information about the project and it's materials is available on the project's website: http://refugees.lt/refugees-europes-missed-opportunity/
Wrap-up video of the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReXHGTNzL0A.
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