Building Bridges through Culture

“Building Bridges through Culture” mobility project will be held between 4-12 May 2024 and implemented in cooperation with seven partner organisations active in the fields of youth and culture. The project seeks to enable youth workers to play an active part in addressing intercultural misunderstandings and conflicts across various domains, while promoting comprehension, tolerance, and embracing diversity.

Objectives

Xenophobia and intercultural incompetence are common problems for East and West; thousands of people are suffering because of it, and what is dangerous is, that also thousands do not see them as a problem for society as a whole. It is becoming clear that in order to build communities that are successful at improving conditions and resolving problems, there is a need to understand and appreciate the diversity of cultures, establish relationships with people from cultures other than your own, and build strong alliances with different cultural groups to enhance acceptance and respect.

Due to unpredictable situations in Europe and huge refugee waves, most of the organisations are more keen on providing humanitarian aid to the refugees; however there is a huge need also assisting them to integrate into the society easier without cultural shocks, misunderstandings and conflicts that may occur due to the lack of knowledge and intercultural competence.
These and many other factors stipulate increasing intolerance, xenophobia, violence, conflicts oriented by cultural fears, numerous stereotypes and prejudices, intercultural misunderstanding, inability to think critically and lack of intercultural competence and acceptance in general.

The project aims to empower young workers to take an active role in transforming intercultural misunderstandings and conflicts on all levels, and to foster understanding, tolerance and acceptance between differences. It will provide youth workers with tools and instruments for approaching intercultural issues such as intolerance, misunderstanding, inability to communicate and to appreciate diversity and work with group identity in a way that does not stimulate conflict. In order to solve the mentioned problems and to meet further challenges we will educate the youth workers using NFE and give them information about intercultural learning and a space for intercultural dialogue.

The main objectives of the project are:
-To increase cultural sensitivity of youth workers and young people through diversity appreciation, direct communication, and exchange;
-To build trust with different people, develop the ability to think critically, and effectively assess personal behaviour towards other people and cultures.
-To break stereotypes and prejudices about the different cultures through enhancement of the awareness of youth workers about intercultural communication, dialogue, and interaction.
-To reduce cultural misunderstanding and miscommunication by giving youth workers a space and tools for intercultural dialogue and communication to erode these spaces to their respective communities.
-To help the youth workers to participate in the creation of more friendly and safe environments full of respect, tolerance, and mutual cultural understanding through quality youth work at local, national and transnational levels;
-To improve the intercultural competence of youth workers by giving a chance to reflect on their personal and group identity;
-To build networks of capable youth workers at local, national and international levels in order to participate actively in society and to develop a sense of European citizenship and identity;
-To create opportunities for youth workers for learning-to-learn and effective personal and professional development through NFE.
The project includes 7 partners coming from 7 EU and EAP countries (Armenia, Austria, France, Georgia, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine).


Activities

(Activity 1, Building Bridges through Culture – international training course on intercultural learning, Professional development activities – third countries not associated) A 9-day training course on intercultural learning will be held in Tbilisi, Georgia gathering 30 youth workers from 7 EU and EAP countries, out of which around 50% are people with fewer opportunities facing geographic, economic and social obstacles and representing minority groups or migrants/refugees.

Activity 2, Cultural Stereotypes? No More!, System development and outreach activities. A system development and outreach activity will be organised in 7 partner countries with an aim to break cultural stereotypes which are leading to harmful practices. Within the outreach activity, a large and multi-country interactive campaign is organised aiming to enhance cultural sensitivity of young people, break stereotypes and eliminate harmful practices stimming from the latter. During the activity intercultural postcards, posters and stickers will be developed by the involvement of young people from art schools and other organisations providing art classes (at least one art class will be selected per country). The students’ paintings will be digitised, fine-tuned and designed as outreach materials in their own languages (some copies will be prepared in minority languages as well). A week-long online and offline campaign will be organised in the streets, at the schools via social media to raise awareness of young people and the larger public on the importance of cultural sensitivity. The posters, postcards and stickers prepared will be shared with influencers, policy makers calling for actions. The postcards will also contain information about organisations providing quality youth work at local and national levels and cultural activities. The outputs created within the activity will be used by the partner organisations for the further campaigning.


Impact

The participants will develop a set of intercultural competences through NFE activities, including highly interactive and participatory methodology based on learner-centered approach and experiential learning. At regional and national level in a long-term perspective this project will lead to reducing cultural conflicts, misunderstanding and violence among young people coming from different backgrounds to a friendly and safe society full of tolerance. Moreover, the outreach and follow up activities aim to create a more culturally sensitive society through NFE activities and eliminate harmful practices. It is expected that at least 200 young people will benefit from the project through the follow up activities. Thousands of young people will be reached during the system development and outreach online and offline. The youth workers and young people will be developing their intercultural competence, break cultural stereotypes, become more open and tolerant towards other cultures.
The project will not only help the youth workers to gain more skills and competences, but also will shape their youth work in practice by making it more sensitive, considerate, flexible and inclusive. The youth workers will become more aware about personal stereotypes, behaviour and the ways this behaviour affects other people, moreover, will be aware of the strategies to deal with current cultural challenges and crashes using a non-formal education approach. This will keep the youth workers motivated to develop their intercultural competence and strive to develop non-judgement approach, tolerance, respect, critical thinking, non-violent communication skills, conflict management and transformation skills of young people they are working with in daily life. They will acquire an ability to empower local young people to become more culturally sensitive and will motivate them to become change makers and initiate activities aiming to spread tolerance, respect, openness towards other cultures and people carrying those cultural features.
The activities initiated by the youth workers and projects designed by them will be based on more culturally sensitive methods and will have a human rights approach as a core value.


Partner organisations

🇦🇲 Youth and Community Action Club NGO

🇦🇹 Austrian Association for Cultural Relations

🇫🇷 Association des Relations Culturelles

🇬🇪 Georgian Association for Cultural Relations

🇭🇺 International Alliance for Cultural Relations

🇷🇴 Asociația pentru Relații Culturale

🇺🇦 Forward for Future and Organisation «social unity and international relations «Kristal»