Stories that move

Discussing diversity and discrimination

10/15/2014
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Videos for International Youth Conference and Expert Meeting

International Youth Conference,
Berlin-Wannsee 17-22 Sept, 2013

Expert Meeting for Educators, 16-20 June, 2014

Slovak Youth Seminar, October 2014

The project Stories that Move started in 2013 with an international youth conference in Berlin. In June 2014 an expert meeting was also held in Berlin for educators from fourteen countries. Both events were a huge inspiration for the project team and the participants, who have continued to share examples of good practice and to advise on projects. The film clips give a good impression of both conferences. In late 2014 a Slovak youth meeting was organised: watch the movie!

Development of online learning tool 2015-18

We are inviting educators from across Europe to be part of this international project. Send us an email if you would like to engage your students by giving feedback on the English language test version, in spring 2016. The aim of the online learning tool is to create awareness among young people about questions related to identity, diversity and discrimination, and to make them sensitive to the issues. Educators and learners will find ready-to-use learning paths, with multiple layers of information, assignments and life stories. Young people will share their experiences with and responses to antisemitism, racism, anti-Gypsyism and discrimination against Muslims and LTGB. How to take action and media competencies will be developed with input from young people. Will they be your students?

For more information, send an email to: storiesthatmove@annefrank.nl with the subject testing online tool Stories that Move.

08/24/2015
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Let the biography »speak for itself« by Flora Suen

Flora_portraitInternational conference on interculturalism in historical education POLINMuseum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw 20 – 22 April 2015, by Flora Suen

The guiding question of the conference was how cultural diversity can inform learning about the past, in order to stimulate individual reflection in the present. A broad range of themes linked to this question were debated by scholars, educators, museum professionals, representatives from NGOs and cultural institutions.

Karen Polak from the Anne Frank House asked me to be a participant observer in her conference workshop »Historical biographies and multiple identities: setting the stage for intercultural historical learning«. The workshop kicked off with a contextualisation of the method of using biographies for intercultural historical learning. The thirty or so participants were then divided into five small groups for a hands-on approach to learning the method. Each group was given five or six historical and contemporary life stories. The common factor in all of the biographies was the experience of discrimination. The groups had a brief amount of time to skim through each biography and were instructed to each select one that they would like to find out more about – albeit without telling the others. Once everyone had decided for themselves, the group members revealed who they had chosen and stated their reasons for it. Karen’s hypothesis is that participants/students tend to base their selection because of similarities in an aspect of their identity to the historical biography, for instance, the same home town or gender identity.

So it was with pricked ears that I listened to the reasons given the small group with whom I was facilitating the method. The group members were all educators who worked in Poland, Germany, Latvia or Norway. Surprisingly, the participants gave reasons that on the surface were not directly related to their own personal biographies! Instead, the motivating factors included interest in the complexity of the multiple forms of discrimination faced.

For the second part of the workshop, each of the small groups had to agree on selecting just one biography to present to the other groups in a plenary session. It was hypothesised that consensus would not be simple to achieve, as participants had already made a personal choice for a biography. The process was also expected to be dependent on the group dynamic and personalities. I was rather amused that my group settled on the biography that none of them had considered in the initial phase!

During the presentation, there was a beautiful moment when one of the participants read a quote from the person selected in order to let the biography »speak for itself«. Although we did not have time for a thorough round of feedback and discussion, there was emphatically positive feedback from the many participants about the method of using diverse biographies in this way. Personally, I am eager to see how the further development and implementation of the method in educational contexts, also online, will work.

The conference was co-organised by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the European Wergeland Center in Norway, with the support from the Council of Europe.

Flora Suen works for the Anne Frank Zentrum in Berlin

Karen en Flora

One wears floral prints; the other one is named after flowers: Karen and Flora hang up the biographies that were introduced at the workshop. Photo: Alicja Szulc

 

 

 

 

 

03/15/2015
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From Patrik in Slovakia

Patrik Vas, 21 years, student of journalism at Comenius University in Bratislava in his third year, established and writes for the student online magazine Mirror (http://mirrormagazin.sk/  http://mirrormagazin.sk/my-sme-mirror/). He writes about a seminar hosted in Slovakia about identity and diversity:

Throughout the seminar, we had the chance to observe how a group of young people, not knowing each other before and with entirely different backgrounds, could find common ground and speak openly about their lives back home.

The participants opened up topics I would have never thought of. The seminar was wonderfully honest and it made me happy. On the other side, not everyone felt entirely comfortable with sharing personal stories. If I had to pick a thing, that would be the one I felt sad about. I definitely have to increase my social interaction with younger generations. I have learned so much from them and even started seeing certain topics from a different point of view. That weekend has reimagined some of my personal beliefs.

The seminar dealt with various topics that could have an effect on a life of a young person. It was great to see how much empathy they showed for each other, and I believe that such conferences  would be enriching for all the participants in order to understand other youngsters from all around the world. That is why I see a huge potential in taking these kind of meetings to a multinational level so they can see what problems different youngsters from different countries face on a daily basis.

vasMy role on this project was to conduct personal interviews with all the participants. I had the chance to hear their stories at first hand, ask questions about their previous experiences and those interviews felt very intimate and confidential, even though the camera was on. Just the fact that we made interviews in three different languages (Slovak, Hungarian and English) proves how colourful group of participants we had. I am glad I was able to be there.

Click here to download and read the Report for this project.

02/21/2015
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Anna shares her experience about the Copenhagen attacks

Krystalgade-610x407Anna Greenberg was one of the Danish participants in the International Youth Conference Stories that Move, held in Berlin September 2013. Now she writes to us from Copenhagen, sharing her thoughts and feelings after the terrible experience of being in the synagogue during the attack and the murder of their guard:

In the night of Saturday 14 February we suffered a tragic loss. The world has lost a true hero. Dan Uzan, was murdered in front of the Danish synagogue just after midnight. He was guarding the people inside the synagogue, celebrating a Bat-Mitzvah. Not only was the night, that was supposed to be one of the most memorable and happiest days in a Jewish girls´ life ruined, but also, a good-hearted and very special man lost his life. He saved the people inside. He saved me. It is an unbearable thought – a man lost his life protecting mine. A man who was all good died, because another man was truly evil. I wish and I hope that no person will ever experience this kind of evil so close by.

There are no words to explain this. I don’t understand it. My mind cannot bare it.. A person that you’ve just talked to, literally minutes before, got shot. I don’t think the word “thankful” is enough. Not even close. I owe him my life.

That night we were all very scared and few of us knew what was going on. We were evacuated to the security room in the basement of the building. Sitting there your mind goes one way or the other. Either you don’t think about anything, and you just sit there in shock. Or you think too much and all the feelings and emotions pour out like you are an open book. No one really knows how they react. And I hope most people won’t need to find out.

What we were all scared would happen, happened. The Jews in Denmark have known for a long time that we are a threatened minority. Now the rest of Denmark knows too. It is tragic that something so drastic made Denmark realize this. Does it really need to go that far? Apparently yes.

I don’t even know how many times I’ve been asked questions like “Why is there a need for that much security at your school and your synagogue? Do you really have a reason to hide your Jewish identity? Is there even antisemitism in Denmark?” For now, these questions will no longer be asked. For now, hopefully, people understand why.

I don’t know if this will change anything. But I hope that people will now see that you have to respect and be good to each other. I’m not angry, I’m sad. Anger is not the way. Understanding what happened, and how we can make sure it will never happen again – how we can be good to each other and try to face the fact that crime doesn’t solve anything is the way.
I will no longer hide my Jewish identity like I did before. It’s not because I’m ashamed to be a Jew, I’m truly proud of my religion, and I feel honored to be so blessed to be in such a good-hearted, caring, honest and most of all respecting community. I will now walk with my Magendavid (Star of David) necklace and show who I am and how much the Jewish life means to me. I will show that we are still here and we will not go away. We will not get weak and we will not lose our Jewish faith. It is stronger than ever, and we are here to stay.

 

02/17/2015
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2015 Updates: Tracking down Stories that Move participants

© Swen Rudolph

© Swen Rudolph

I have been tracking down our young Stories that Move participants, trying to learn what they have been up to since the International Youth Conference in September of 2013. And it turns out they have been busy!  From projects in school to new internships to attending more conferences and meetings, this group has been very active and many have engaged in similar topics as those we dealt with in our conference – discrimination, diversity, acceptance, inclusion.

We have a youth meeting in Slovakia, dedicated to issues of diversity and discrimination, and co-organised by Claudia, our peer guide from Berlin.  We have Natalia from Poland, who has been active in the European Youth Parliament and in the Remembrance Youth Forum about the Roma Holocaust. She has also been volunteering in Amnesty International.  We have Dora, from Hungary, who was so inspired by the Youth Conference that she tracked down a Holocaust Education organization in Hungary, Zachor, and is now guiding high school students around the Jewish quarter of Budapest.  We have Alexandra, from Romania, who has been active in promoting Roma Rights around Romania.  These are just a few of the stories, and as they come in, we will update this site with more news.  Scroll down to read in more detail what our former participants have been up to.

Tali, Copenhagen, Denmark.

02/17/2015
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Update from Alexandra

 I had the opportunity to participate at Stories that Move project in the summer of 2013. This experience was life-changing. I met amazing people who shared with me their personal stories and broadened my perspective upon the importance of communication between people with different backgrounds in order to create a friendly environment for everybody. Personally, Stories that Move represents a point of reference in my life, it was then that I understood the fact that we live in a globalized world, and every day, cultural barriers are being overcome, which motivated me to take initiative in this regard in my own community.

Alexandra_meetingIn the fall of 2013 I was elected head of the Bihor County Students’ Council, structure that represents the 94000 students of Bihor county in relation with the County School Inspectorate and the Minister of Education in Romania. Throughout my mandate as president of this organization, my 12 member team and I developed several projects that aimed to become tools of informal education for students. Some of the projects we implemented are “Theater for high-school students”, “Volunteering, I want to get involved”, “The freshmen’s prom” etc. Considering that the society we live in has prejudices regarding ethnic diversity, we thought it was important to develop an activity that would stand as a reminder of the beauty that uniqueness gives among humans. We called this project “The Gala of Multiculturalism”, being in fact a show, held at the philharmonic of Oradea, in which several schools performed short artistic moments revealing characteristics of each of the ethnic groups that live in our county. It was a beautiful and emotional event, especially from a personal point of view, as I am part of the Roma minority and I felt really encouraged to see how much this sort of activity can unite youth and impact the community.

Alexandra_MC_event_flyer Alexandra_event_Roma

 

 

 Of course, the whole concept of Stories that Move is still a great source of inspiration for me reflected in my work, as it talks about human interaction and strong life principles regarding discrimination and diversity. But what struck me most was how much people from different cultures, different religions, different sexual orientations, or ethnic origins can relate to each other. I made friends for life, with whom I still keep in touch. All the participants taught me something, a fact that is amazing. I think Stories that Move was about people, people that interact with other people in a healthy way.

Looking back to the history and to how similar it is to the nowadays military conflicts across Europe, I once again understand the importance of respecting diversity of cultures and build the society on a the strong foundation of tolerance, respect and the wealth of multiculturalism across borders. This type of broaden understanding I discovered while experiencing Stories that Move project in Berlin.

I spent my childhood in a family of social workers. My parents built Ruhama foundation back in 1996, an NGO that works for socially vulnerable groups, having the Roma disadvantaged minority as their main target beneficiaries, aiming to improve the access of people to community resources so they can live a decent and dignified live. I am, thus, aware of the importance of the social work, but I think I am called to work in another domain. I am currently in my final year of high-school and I am preparing for the baccalaureate exam. This fall, I will be moving to London, to continue my studies. I dream of becoming a good manager and work in the business field. I think business is important as it has a major impact on the world’s economy and for me, business will be the way that I will contribute to a healthy society and so, help those around me to become socially and economically independent and pro-active citizens. This way, I`m convinced, I will also contribute to the struggle and professional work of my parents. Alexandra Daragiu

Alexandra, Oradea, Romania

 

02/10/2015
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Update from Dora

© Swen Rudolph

© Swen Rudolph

In September of 2013 I took part on a conference held in Berlin. My fellow participants were youth from all around Europe gathered together to discuss the problem of discrimination, which was the main topic. Basically, it was a one-week-long conversation about what we think discrimination, have we ever encountered it in any form, and how we think we could make it stop. For me one of the conclusions was that the first step is looking around to learn who are the people who suffer discrimination every day and who are the people who try and exclude others of their, in fact, non-existing circles. The conference was an incredibly strengthening and inspiring experience.

After the conference I came back home to Hungary with this experience. It dragged me down a bit, that I was willing to do something, the impact of the conference was pushing me to carry into execution what I learned in Berlin from my youth advisers, fellow participants and all the amazing people I met, still I had no idea where should I start.

The Hungarian sponsor of the conference through which the seven Hungarian students- we got in touch with it, was the Zachor Foundation. The meaning of the Hebrew word „Zachor” is „remember”. Among other projects the foundation organizes walks for groups of students in the Jewish quarter of Budapest in order to familiarize the history of Budapest’s Jewish community. Soon after I came home from Berlin I applied to volunteer for Zachor Foundation. After a four-months-long training, I could guide groups too.

On such a walk we guide the groups of high school-students through the Jewish quarter of Budapest and introduce its history from 1786, the year when the Jewish community got the allowence to settle down in Budapest. The quarter had been also washed away by a flood in 1838, then re-built- and it’s been developing at a quick pace since then. We talk about the progress and assimilation of the Jewish community while walking around the quarter that had been the scene of the history which we talk about. We also talk about the most tragical situation of the quarter’s history: the Holocaust. This is the part of the city where the ghetto used to be located during the last period of Holocaust. Today, this part is one of the most colourful, visited, expensive, amazing and developing parts, with a history of more than 200 years.

In my opinion, the aim of these walks is to show how much of history has been crammed between these walls, these houses, and that we must not forget any of it. During a walk we speak of the ascending of a community and the blooming of a city, decades of rejuvenation and development, then the intense tragedy of both; the tragedy of the city, the tragedy of its citizens, the tragedy of ours. I really think it’s our duty to remember of it all because that’s also a way of stopping it from happening again.

After World War II the quarter was nearly destroyed. In the last seventy years the quarter has been re-built again, its history has been going on. It’s lived both beautiful and terrible years, and though these are all history now, we must not let them dissolve into thin air, because our present in it is just as much to become history one day.

I can tell that I’m a tiny part of something that I find very important, and I’m very happy for that. And I wouldn’t be able to do that without the inspiring experience of the conference in Berlin.

Dora, Hungary

02/06/2015
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Update: Slovak Youth Meeting

MSF-YouthMeeting1Young people from all around Slovakia met in October 2014 to discuss diversity and discrimination. They talked about problems which are usually ignored or not much known among their peers. Some of the participants are active members of various student organizations; some devote their time to music, literature or dancing. Several come from other countries but have lived in Slovakia for quite a while. There were also some who ended up in the country in their search for a new home.

Participants had a diverse set of identities and backgrounds and had all faced the feeling of somehow being ‘different’ from the others, whether it was by their religion, culture, ethnic background, or physical ability

During the seminar, the young people engaged in various activities. Some of them preferred discussions, others expressed their opinions in various creative ways. Most activities required physical movement. Matej, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, took every chance to join and preferred to use crutches instead of the wheelchair. In the end of the seminar Adam expressed a thought shared by many: “I was most impressed by Matej. Seeing how fine he is one cannot really say he is bothered or dissatisfied with his life. He surprised me by showing you can live happily with something like that. He does consider it a disadvantage, but not in the sense there is no way to go about it.”

Participants had several opportunities to take a stance to various issues. During one activity they considered what discrimination is and what it is not. For instance, if Roma student wants to sit in the first row of the classroom and teacher tells him to go to the last one. Is it discrimination? Is it not?

“I find myself condemning Roma people right away. It is because of my bad experience with them,” says Adam who was robbed and beaten up by a group of guys. “However, when I see Roma who try to become a part of the community, who do not threaten others and are just ok then I fully accept them,” he explains.

Nikola describes a situation in the region where she lives. According to her, people from her village protect themselves from what had already happened to the neighbouring villages. She says that Roma are interested in buying houses there but whenever there is someone who wants to sell the house the municipal office buys it immediately so that it does not end up in the hands of Roma. According to her, both groups should understand each other and only then there will be fewer conflicts. “In order to live in one country together it is important for both Slovaks and minorities to get to know each other better and to be more aware of themselves.”

This meeting was organized by the youth and supported by the Milan Simecka Foundation.  Some of the results and discussion points will be used in the development of the online toolkit.

02/06/2015
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Update from Natalia

Natalia1More than a year has passed since the conference in Berlin, and, oh what a time it has been. I came back feeling that I quite simply have to do something, surely for the purpose of helping the ones in need, trying to make the world a more tolerant place but also just to surround myself with positive energy, the most amazing people. Their fabulousness is a fact, one among many I’ve learnt during Stories That Move ;)

So what have I been doing?

I’m currently in the last year of high school. I took part in few European Youth Parliament sessions, where I was a chairperson of committees working on problems concerning legalization of LGBT marriage and adoption in UE countries, and unemployment among the disabled. During holidays I volunteered at Remembrance Youth Forum in Cracow. A meeting of Roma and non-Roma youth from all over the world where we could gain knowledge concerning the topic of Roma Holocaust, debate over the forms of combating discrimination and get in touch with the magnificent Roma culture. That was an amazing experience and I’d love to do it again this year. I also took part in Sport Respects Your Rights conference, where with my co-delegates I created a media campaign on sexual harassment of children in sport. Since October last year I’ve been also volunteering at Amnesty International. With my local group I co-organized a lesson for my classmates and Letter Writing Marathon.

Natalia MacioszekThat’s unfortunately all for now ;) I still come back to the memories and knowledge I gained during the conference in Berlin. It gave me confidence to act against intolerance, engage in conferences and workshops. I’m still thankful to you.

Natalia, Toruń, Poland.

06/24/2014
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Organizing self-reflecting processes

LisaRoseWhen I recovered today from the week with all that wonderful collaborating and socializing I had  a question asked by Monique Eckmann in her speech in the final session popped up in my mind anew:

“How can we organize a self-reflecting process because it can’t be taught?”

I find it a very useful and productive question. What is self-reflection, and what are the preconditions for it’s practice?

And Monique’s  also useful answers put it in a nutshell was to stress the need of everyone to tell his/her own victim story instead of being suspected or blamed as a perpetrator. And from this psychological or psychoanalytical perspective we know that behind every perpetrator is a story of his/her own experience as a victim. The experience of being a victim doesn’t makes you good. “Auschwitz was no borstal” (as Zuckermann puts it).

But there is more in it than a psychological or pathological answer. There is an interesting answer from the system theoretical perspective, which may enable us to open the question up to all learning processes.

When I reflect on my own history of development of self-reflection including the competence and the will to criticize myself for the sake of being able to change something inwardly – than I can say, that I only startet a process to become more and more able to do so, when I finally got rid of blaming myself for mistakes, errors and failings, and when I quit the system of shame which came from my entire early environmental systems in my 1st and 2nd socialization.

When I say that learning is a self-organizing system it does not mean at all – although it is often taken for – that you have only to provide an access to the internet or to a library, and on it goes. Strange to say that often teacher do exactly this when they skip their usual intentional teaching for a so called “project”: they push their students in a situation confronted with material, or a task, or a “learning object” (as the Cultural Historical Psychology puts it) and then they abandon them extremely – in opposite to their usual extremely overprotecting and patronizing teaching work. And they find it “pedagogical” when they don’t answer student’s questions and rather say “Go, find it out by yourself” although they know the answer. Instead of  professional pedagogical behavior I can name this only rude, but it’s very usual. This stems from the idea, that either the teacher steers the whole process or the student(s) do and their is no third.

To skip this useless dualistic understanding we may notice that there is both in individual psychic systems as well as in social systems: the self-steering closed psychic system (the person) or the self-steering closed social system on one hand and their respective open interfaces to connect with their environments on the other hand. Every trial from the environment – which is every other person and every other social system to the person or system we look at – to take over control of this self-steering apparatus is answered by a self-steered defense of the self-steering apparatus itself. If you have any positive influence to persons or in certain social systems you have it only because you are (at least intuitive) aware of these autopoietical apparatuses. If these self-steering systems would corrupt themselves the whole system would collapse. (This makes for instance usually 12 to 18 year old boys refusing to do a solo audition in front of their music class.) And from this understanding it can easily been understood why it is not useful at all to challenge the internal self-steering apparatus by asking for self-reflecting activities when this apparatus is unstable which is often the case exactly for weak students. (This corresponds with Monique’s argument of the “illusion to get power” – and by that to strengthen or heal the “self” – by persecuting others).  But if there would be no stimulus from the environment at all the system can bear to let in, it would be threatened by isolation which would also lead to system’s death.

So as teacher or educator we can see ourselves as one of the various – and important –  environments to our students. And what we can do to make learning processes in general happen is to skip all these useless, counterproductive trials to enter our students’ self-steered systems and instead to create environments for them in which as much as possible interfaces can be used by them because their need to connect is met and their need to be autonomous as well.

Beyond these primary needs there are two other important needs I seek to fulfill in learning processes I am in together with others: that is the need to be challenged through participating in activities that matters and the need to feel competent with contributions. I don’t think that the preconditions for good learning are on this state different between children, adolescents, and adults. These are conditions for human learning.
If these 4 needs are met the learning methods and shapes of the processes can look very different and the range of their variations may be very wide. It depends on context. Be moderator and observer and be an involved person as well. When you have to be what: it depends on context. So for instance Karen Polak showed professional competence when she entered the scene and presented a missing perspective in a workshop I attended.

I have a few principles for my actions as educator:

  • If I don’t feel well with the process in a certain situation, I ask the students (or teachers or pupils) or other participants how they feel with the situation. In most cases they don’t feel well either, but if I bring this up early as my own problem they willingly make serious suggestions what we could change together in the environment.
  • An as it turns out mostly, if they are not asked regularly and many times for feedback during the process at least in every single phase, they are often too polite or not in conscious connection with their own feelings so they could ask for something could show and tell their dissatisfaction early enough so process, structure, environmental choices can improved.

Make it short: I can’t appreciate to much what I learned for my teaching through studying System Theory and I like to recommend it to you. If you read German you may find it useful to have a look on my post Systemtheorie für Lehrer. If you want to read in English I recommend the work of Pete Senge

 

Blog by Lisa Rosa from the Landesinstitut für Lehrerbildung und Schulentwicklung Hamburg.