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YW+YE-Meeting the other
Start date: 02 Mar 2015, End date: 01 Sep 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Meeting the other" was designed as a project with two related activities. First a training course was held, spanning 8 days in April 2015 and counting 24 participants, which was a concrete testing ground for organisers, youth workers and youth leaders alike of concept and methods in the field of Intercultural Learning. As a direct follow-up of this training course, the project included a 12-day youth exchange in July 2015 numbering a total of 54 young people, which allowed us to incorporate more young people into the the same concept and methods, but now with some of the participants from the training course as group leaders and co-facilitators. In many concepts of intercultural learning, the focus is often on preparing individuals for an encounter with something or someone that is different from their usual environment. When applying such categorisations of culture, we implicitly assume a "strangeness" for the encounter with people of a different cultural background - the meeting with "others". "Meeting the other" was an attempt to elaborate on intercultural learning, and try to take it in an altered direction, mainly by choosing a different starting point for such meetings of cultures. Instead of focusing on the encounter of people of different backgrounds, we started from a basic human experience, and how we relate to something that is different from what we are used to. The general objectives of the project were: - To provide a chance for youth workers and young people to reflect on their encounters with 'the other' on different levels - To provide participants the chance to experience the topic of intercultural learning from a new and unusual perspective The specific objectives for Activity A1 (training course) were: - To provide youth leaders and youth workers with new skills and competences to support youngsters in their personal growth by exploring alternative ways of acting and thinking - To discuss the consequences for concepts of intercultural learning from the perspective of 'otherness' - To form a team of group leaders and facilitators for the youth exchange and to give inspiration for new tools and methods, which will be put into practice by them during the second activity The specific objectives for Activity A2 (youth exchange) were: - To support young people in their personal growth by challenging stereotypical perceptions and ways of acting - To give a chance to young people to reflect about personal topics through artistic forms of expression - To provide a possibility for young people to cooperate in multinational teams and to learn about the cultural diversity the world has to offer Some of the questions touched upon by both activities of the project seem somewhat abstract. Impetus is therefore on the organisers to be creative in the formulation of concrete methods which can encourage reflection around the topic among all participants. We will be working with methods of non-formal education, and will use concrete exercises such as "Albatross", "One step forward", "Crossing the border", and other concrete exercises with which we have positive experiences. A very important aspect is to be thorough in the evaluation of each day to facilitate proper processing among all participants of the sometimes heavy material. For that purpose we will set aside time every single day for group and individual reflection. A key impact on all participants was that they became more aware of perceptions, stereotypes, biases, etc. in themselves, in cultures, group dynamics, etc. The participants obtained a more complex understanding of what intercultural learning means, and different concepts related to it. As we provided ample time and support for new project development (during the Open Space sessions, as well as informal meetings), new projects have beeen initiated for follow-up and long-term cooperations between participating organisations were set up.
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