This year, we held our annual Spring Seminar, titled Challenging antigypsyism through Human Rights Education in Albania. The Seminar consisted of 5 program days (May 21-27), during which 35 young Roma and non-Roma from 8 different countries expanded their understanding and knowledge.
They learnt about the basics of human rights, discussed the phenomenon of antigypsyism, and developed new skills of non-formal education (NFE), in order to challenge it. During the seminar, the participants shared their experiences and identified examples of antigypsyism, tried to figure out what they can do to challenge them.
The seminar consisted of two main phases: The first one included developing the skills and competences of participants in non-formal education and engaging in upcoming activities (such as the So Keres Europa?! Varna 2017), through workshops on facilitation. In the second phase we provided them with new tools for challenging exclusion, discrimination and antigypsyism. Within this phase participants got acquainted with the situation and identities of Roma in Albania and in other count
ries; developed intercultural skills, talked about intersectional identities and struggle (Romani women and LGBTQIA) and planned common actions.
The first day was dedicated to HR through two exercises, “Flower Power” and “Where do You Stand?”. Participants had the opportunity to discuss about basic HR, learn about their importance and share their own opinions and experiences.
The group was very diverse and those exercises provided a basic knowledge for the ones who did not know the topic at all, and an opportunity to discuss and go deeper for the others. The last exercise of the day, the Forum Theatre was more practical, and helped the participants discover different realities and develop different ways of challenging discrimination and antigypsyism.
Day 2 focused on the History of antigypsyism and Romani identities. Participants learnt about the phenomenon of antigypsyism and its connection to basic HR, its development throughout history and how it manifested and manifests in different countries of Europe. These activities gave useful information about the different Roma realities and tools that individuals and organizations can use in order to challenge antigypsyism on local, national and international level.
Day 3 reintroduced the topic of antigypsyism and the steps we can take in order to challenge it, and then introduced participants to facilitation skills. In the afternoon, the participants went all together to visit the city of Durres, showing a feeling of community.
Day 4 was developed on three groups of parallel workshops: participants could sign up for different workshops on the previous days. The ones who wanted to enhance their facilitation skills remained together for the whole day, but the other could choose between 2-2 workshops in the morning.
The first group in the first session learnt about facilitation skills in an interactive way that involved the participants in the design of the role of a facilitator and then they learnt about the different learning styles. During the second workshop the facilitation group developed an exercise which revealed the stereotypes hidden inside of almost everyone and led to an interesting discussion. After this first time, a couple of participants took the role of facilitators and led the activity with the others an then with the whole group. The results were quite good, and the participants who tried the role of facilitators were satisfied.
The other participants could choose from two workshops in the early morning and two others in the late morning before coming together for the facilitation practice: The “visit at the Albatross island” exercise put participants in an uncomfortable situation visiting a different culture.
This exercise pointed to the fact that we understand/interpret other cultures’ practices through the lenses of our own cultures and ended in a discussion of why this can be misleading and even dangerous and patronizing. The other morning workshop dealt with the importance of remembrance through an exercise which processed life stories of Roma Holocaust
survivors and their heroic acts.
One of the late-morning sessions focused on issues of intersectionality through debating controversial and stereotypical statements about Romani women and Romani LGBTQIA people; and the other one tackled a specific manifestation of antigypsyism: online hate speech against Roma and suggested tools for fighting it.
On the last day participants decided to develop, on the base of what they learnt during the whole week, their own action about a violent act against Roma which had happened recently in Ukraine. They divided in two groups, one focused on writing a petition, and the other one on developing a social media campaign. Both groups ended with an idea and a concrete project, and took the responsibility to carry it on after the Seminar. After this session, participants had open space to share their plans and develop long-term cooperation.
The program was designed with non-formal learning methods, such as debates and group work.
The project was supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe