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Strangers in Paradise - Der Jugendaustausch für Toleranz, Solidarität und Kulturverständnis in Europa
Start date: Jul 1, 2016, End date: Oct 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project finds its roots in the early 90s, when the world became aware of the dramatic situation in Rumania, especially in regards to the miserable conditions in the second biggest Children’s Home under the Ceausescu’s regime. At that time volunteers from Bautzen (Germany) started aid-transporters, which were necessary for first aid, but not enough to improve the general condition of the youngsters. Every year many youths were sent out in the streets of Europe without any kind of support or social skills. In order to tackle this situation German Volunteers developed concepts on site to facilitate and encourage interactions between youth with different social and ethnic background. Until 2007, over 70 young people spent two years as voluntary service in the Children’s Home. Since 2012 the project has taken a further step embracing the EU-Strategy for european youth and has yearly developed the concept in order to enhance this peculiar youth exchange experience gathering in Romania youth and youth workers from different countries. This year there are youth coming from Germany and Greece joining two different Romanian organizations in order to increase the european cohesion among youngsters coming from different background, among them there are youngsters with special needs and characterized by social, economical and educational disadvantages. In total there will be 60 participants staying in a wonderful valley in the Carpathians where the only resources are a meadow, a stream and a load of wood from sawmill. Working together, the youths build a camp from scratch with all necessary facilities from toilettes to seminar rooms. As a common habitat their own small village must be built. All that is required to be constructed itself. This specifically means that in the first hours or days following things are built:- Kitchen (cooked on an open fire)- Roofs for wood store,- Toilets, Carrying, cranes- Dam & washplaces- Benches, tables, paths,- Sports FacilitiesJoint work for self-preservation of the "village" is the supporting element of the measure until the end. Here they learn how to democratically interact with each other; they increase self-consciousness, respect for others, they learn how to level cultural and social disparity, how to deal with racism and to overcome language barriers. They also have the chance to discuss European identity and to learn about the European citizenship.This intense relationship between the young people are linked in a very short time, and soon the ethnic and social differences don’t play any longer a central role. The entire construction process and also the joint efforts to create a community are supported by democratic decision-making processes, in which the participants are involved and which are in their own hand. Own initiative, entrepreneurship, self-esteem and acknowledgment of others are the Methodology for encouraged and developed basic democratic skills.The hand work to keep the camp alive is accompanied by activities to develop a culture that expresses itself in seminars, sports and discussions in the camp. One specific aim of the camp consists in giving the german and greek youths an insight into the everyday life of the people in the nearby village of Cracinuel in order to let them understand the difficult conditions in which their fellow european youths have to live. Other activities consist in walks, trips and witness interviews. Another methodology is represented by seminars accompanied by adults, where the youth acquire knowledge, experience and argumentative skills. Through the seminars and discussions the young people acquire knowledge and practical skills to think more concretely about and address issues such discrimination, inclusion, European identity and values. The envisaged long-term effects consist in a fundamental and lasting long understanding of the specificity and diversity of social life in the local and European context and to put this into their everyday action
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