MORE Project: Roma-Jewish Youth Leadership Training

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One of the team members of Phiren Amenca has been involved in this project which apperas as a best practice in the educational toolkit of the Europe of Diasporas project. The cooperation and alliance-building with other diasporas, social groups is important in our work therefore we would like to share information about the More Roma-Jewish Youth Leadership training.

The More Project is the Roma-Jewish Youth Leadership Training of MAZS Foundation that took place in the Dr. Ámbádkar School in Sajókaza, Hungary with the support of Norway Grants and EUJS. The word ‘more‘ has multiple meanings: it means teacher in Hebrew and person in Romanes. It symbolizes our two main goals: community-building and education.

The 15 participants of the training had the opportunity to learn and think together about community-building, identity issues, team work, leadership skills, the work of other Roma youth organizations through bi-weekly trainings during 20 months. The Jewish and Roma project coordinators aimed to share their relevant experiences that they gained in their communities with the members of another minority group, thus possibly initiate an alliance that can become exemplary for the wider Roma and Jewish communities and for the majority society as well. At the end of the project we created a Roma youth organization that offers space to experience positive Roma identity and active role in the community.

The project started with a 3-day-long team-building camp in October 2014 where the participants and the project leaders, trainers got to know each other.12366979_10205730873532915_1760733861_n

During the first semester we explored the topic of identity from different perspectives so that the participants become more conscious about their own identity and characteristics. Thanks to the non-formal educational methods and team-building games they became more self-confident and open to each other, they were very active during the trainings and could integrate the new-comers to the group. We started to build a model program that can serve as best-practice for other grass-root initiatives. We made an archive of the methodology of each training in order to share it later with other organizations.

The second semester aimed to shift from personal identity to community roles and leadership skills to encourage the participants to organize community programs as youth leaders. Our goal was to invite members of other Roma youth initiatives for experience-sharing and then to organize a program with our group for the other students during the school’s project-week. Through these trainings we aimed to strengthen self-confidence, positive identity, active community role, social network and team cooperation. The participants met and had discussions with 7 young Roma guests with different background during a Living Library event, as well as with members of different Roma organizations (Bagázs, Romaversitas) and grass-root youth initiatives (from Hodász) who gave inspiration to them. We held trainings about leadership styles and skills, community roles so that they can be more conscious about their own roles and responsibilities in their youth organization. At the end of the semester the participants organized a Talent Show in the school where they could experience to design and coordinate their own project together with this team.

We started the third semester again with a 3-day-long team-building camp with the aim of reflecting to the first year’s experiences and the plans for the next year. After the camp we continued to discuss about leadership roles and responsibilities, we held trainings about conflict-solving and public speaking. The main goal and challenge of this semester was to organize two project days similarly to the Talent Show but to give more responsibility to the participants. These programs were very successful and strengthened the team spirit and self-confidence of the participants to organize and facilitate more community programs. During the first program, that was a Living Library event with migrants and refugees for all the students of the school, the participants of our training facilitated and coordinated the games. The next project was a HanuChristmas event simultaneously in two schools developed and facilitated completely by our participants. This program was very important and successful from different perspectives as well: it was very challenging in terms of team work, organizational skills, program facilitation, and the participating students, teachers, trainers gave very positive feedback, the facilitators felt good in their role, we celebrated a Jewish holiday, the Hanuka together with Roma students.

Our aim of the last semester was to define the aims and main activities of the youth organization and to register the organization, to share the experiences of this training program with other Roma youth communities, and to organize a camp for Roma and Jewish participants. We successfully finished the project and we hope to see the future programs of the youth organization.IMG_20652q