“Education Against Discrimination” raccontato in Svezia da Giada
My name is Giada, I’m twenty five years old and two weeks ago I hosted a workshop called “Take a Step Forward” during a Waldorf school event called the “Eurythmy festival”, held one a year in Sweden.
During the festival, the students, aged 12 to 18, and their teachers were able to choose which workshop to attend. While there were 10 participants, many decided not to appear on camera.
I recently participated in the Erasmus+ Training Course “Education Against Discrimination”, to increase my knowledge about struggles from different groups to be accepted and integrated in society. Here I had the opportunity to discuss discrimination under many aspects with a group of amazing people, learning about how minorities and risk groups react to discrimination and what we can do to erase the stigma behind the prejudices and stereotypes that we label people with. It was an amazing experience for me and I have decided to share some of that wisdom at the Eurythmy festival.
The activity consisted in giving each participant a new “personality”, assigning them a person from a risk group or minority that they would have to fill the shoes of. Then, the participants were told to “take a step forward if…” plus questions such as “if you have never had serious financial difficulty”, “if you are not afraid of being arrested by the police”, “if you feel safe walking back home at night”, “if you feel loved and respected”.
When we were assigned this activity during the training course in Italy, for me it was really hard to not associate myself with the character I had been given. I asked the participants if they felt comfortable with the exercise, and though many said yes, the results by the end of the activity were unexpected by many: one woman shared that she first found it really hard to step into her character (a queer teenage boy at a Catholic school), and the 15 year old student from Finland found it quite easy yet distressing to fit into his (a son of a famous lawyer).
The activity was followed by a 40 minute debriefing of all the participants sitting together in a circle to share their feelings regarding the activity with a few tears from a participant and many that felt angry and confused by the gap between their character and the others.
Zalking to these people I realized yet again how easy it is for total strangers to relate to a topic such as discrimination, because it affects all of us, in one way or another. The participant that was at the front started taking smaller steps in order to make the distance between him and those in the back shorter, while others tried holding hands so they wouldn’t be too far apart. We considered this to be the metaphor of humanity and compassion: while some of us in life have it really easy, there are others that struggle every day, be it because of economic conditions, their skin colour, gender, sexuality, religion or physical abilities, through these exercises we don’t create a “cure” for discrimination, but we can create a feeling of union through diversity, that is the true European sentiment.
I am eternally grateful for being able to take part in this and share with others, so that they can also spread word that Europe is strong, diverse and proud.
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