Members of small, regional communities – and especially young people – face significant and accumulated challenges due to problematic education, lack of creative stimuli, prolonged economic crisis, pandemic, natural disasters, modern geopolitical and social developments, etc. Responding to these challenges, Intercultural Citizenship Education (ICE) of the Anna Lindh Foundation, through its experiential, interactive workshops, can, not only support the morale of young people, but also activate and highlight their rich potential, strengthening their role as active and creative citizens.
In this context, on the weekend of December 17 and 18, 2022, Aspasia Protogerou, certified trainer on Intercultural Citizenship Education from the Anna Lindh Foundation and Yiannis (John) Sourelis, co-founder of Fotoessa, held a 10-hour Intercultural Workshop of personal activation and social empowerment for young volunteers in the Municipality of Saronikos, on the topic: “Exploring perception”.
12 young volunteers from “Young Volunteers in Action” and “Saronida Library” local NGOs, participated in the workshop which took place in the hospitable hall of the Palaia Phocaea Theatre and the Palaia Phocaea Cultural Association “Fokaeon Politeia” (“People of Phocaea”).
The workshop aimed:
- to create a safe environment for free expression and creative interaction among young participants
- to inspire and entertain them through experiential, interactive activities and games
- to encourage fruitful reflection and broadening their mindset
- to motivate them to positive actions on an individual and collective level
- to strengthen and enrich their individual and social skills such as: self-observation, active listening, critical thinking, empathy, fruitful communication
- to contribute to the realization that we are all unique, with special capabilities and inclinations, different and evolving, interdependent and complementary, and -therefore- necessary for our community and society
The new participants took part in 3 thematic, experiential and interactive workshops and, using their mind and heart, they reflected on the concept of perception: How do we see ourselves? How do we see the “other”? How do the “others” see us?
In the first workshop, participants explored the concept of personal identity and discerned in it the coexistence of varied, unique and evolving “cultures”. The main objective was to encourage self-observation, self-discovery and free expression.
In the second experiential workshop, the participants explored the concept of the personal image: the perception we have of our self-image, the image that others have of us and the image we have of others. Participants interacted and collaborated by recording similarities and differences. They recorded the differences of perception and the relativity of reality experienced by each one, and they were encouraged to broaden their point of view so as to suppress the tendency to compare and criticize.
The third workshop motivated the participants, through experiential activities, to creatively compose a common identity for their group. The young volunteers demonstrated the factors that hinder open-mindedness and good cooperation, such as stereotypes, beliefs and prejudices. Participants had the opportunity to practice empathy, to be encouraged to listen to the reality of others and to “think outside the box.” The exchange of views, with active listening and open dialogue, through role-playing games, triggered a shift in group dynamics from domination or avoidance, to experienced equality and synergy.
According to the results of the final, anonymous evaluation, the majority of the participants gave very positive remarks on their overall experience. They participated in the workshop with enthusiasm; they were motivated and inspired, both for their personal development and for their more functional contribution to a more resilient, inclusive and prosperous society.