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Workshop in Rome: Students Feel Empowered to Help Create a Culture of Encounter in their Communities

Arigatou International – Geneva, together with Scholas Occurrentes and Ashoka - Italy, carried out a three-day workshop for a group of 15 teachers and 25 students from three secondary schools in Rome, Italy.

The workshop, held on 6-8 April 2021, is part of “Creating a Culture of Encounter,” a collaborative project being held in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, that seeks to empower youth through education to challenge xenophobia, discrimination and exclusion in Europe.

During the workshop, teachers and students reflected together on different thematics including identity, ethics, values, and the appreciation of diversity. They discussed youth empowerment and explored different ways of promoting joint actions to contribute to challenging the mistrust between communities, creating new narratives of mutual understanding and respect, and enhancing solidarity across Europe.

“I would like to continue with this project; with these moments of encounter and dialogue where we appreciate diversity and feel a call to embrace diversity reflecting on the rich social identity we can build,” said one of the educators.

Culture of Encounter Italy Workshop April 2022

Throughout the workshop, students and teachers gained new knowledge, developed attitudes and skills, and learned to utilize intercultural and interfaith tools to help co-create a culture of encounter in Europe. The participatory approach of the workshop allowed them to experience active citizenship, encouraging them to actively engage with communities and to question and transform the narratives of hate speech and discrimination, thus contributing to the prevention of violence. They also took part in a Storytelling session to learn to document their experiences and the processes and outcomes of their projects.

“These days have given me home that schools can become places for encounter and enriching experiences where through dialogue and exchange we can reflect on things around us. This should be the school! A school where we are protagonists and we feel empowered to change the world around us!” express another student.

After the workshop, students were inspired and committed to carrying out local projects to reach out to their schools and communities and initiate youth-led projects with a potential multiplying effect to reach more young people in their countries. In the same way, teachers were encouraged to support and guide the students in the development of collaborative actions.   

Culture of Encounter Italy Workshop April 2022 3

The “Culture of Encounter” project seeks to advance the promotion of human rights, the principles of democracy and the value of learning to live together in plural societies. By June 2022, it will have reached one hundred youth aged 14 to 17 and sixty educators from the participating countries.

The Project is being organized by Arigatou International - Geneva, Scholas Occurrentes, the Aga Khan Foundation, the European Wergeland Centre, and the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace Research Institute.

We thank the team of facilitators that made this workshop possible, as well as the teachers and students for their commitment and enthusiasm.