This summer has been a hectic yet inspirational one for me. As Show Racism the Red Card Scotland’s only education worker, it can often involve getting lost in whirlpools of my own thoughts, and spending hours trying to generate new ideas following on from reflections of the last year and the thousands of young people who have taken part in our educational workshops.
In June I travelled to the Czech Republic to participate in an Erasmus+ international training project funded by the European Union and in collaboration with particpants from 7 countries around Europe. Erasmus+ encourages and enables mobility and training for people around Europe. Hosted by local organisation Inex, we came together to share experiences of working with groups where discrimination may be experienced or may arise, and to develop strategies to challenge and prevent discrimination. The opportunity to surround myself with the space, the people, and the ideas to expand and enhance our educational delivery was just too good to pass up!
The training –
22 of us spent the next week as residents in a beautifully renovated old German School building in Frydlant, which sat high in the Czech countryside overlooking fields, forests, and the borders of both Germany and Poland. The daily programme led us on a journey that examined power structures and the root causes of discrimination, and participants were given space and support to share ideas in dealing with prejudice and challenging discrimination. Reflection time was built into the programme each day also giving us valuable opportunity to link in our learning with our own practice back home.
Our group worked together to explore techniques in non formal education, and to develop activities and workshops that we could take back home and run within our own settings.
I value greatly the opportunity to share best practice and experiences with those who are doing similar work. Expanding this out across many borders created a rich experience that was powerful in letting me revisit why I do what I do, and to refresh my motivation to enhance the anti-racism work that I do. I listened to the work that my Italian and Greek peers were doing with the refugee communities in their countries, and I remembered the need to focus on the humanity of people rather than their situations. We considered how perception is often driven by complicated neural processes, and that in order to bring somebody round to consider another point of view we must first attempt to truly understand their beliefs and the power structures that often contribute to these. I also learned about perspective taking and identity through the role of a garden snail, who was too relaxed to have meaningful interactions with a hyperactive dolphin! We were given the space, the time, and the tools to be creative and to fully focus on the whole spectrum of discrimination, whilst developing and trialling new workshops.
As a facilitator, I found this time invaluable. I was continually inspired by the passion and contributions from the other participants, and was able to spend time evaluating my own practice and development as a facilitator in equalities education.
What’s next? –
I returned to Scotland with a head full of ideas, and a full heart in knowing that there are many, many like minded organisations and individuals who are committed to a global society that is accepting of all. A renewed motivation in what I do and why I do it has already allowed me to try out some of the newly developed workshop with groups here who are engaging with Show Racism the Red Card.
We are now looking at ways in which we may be able to host European volunteers within our organisation – harnessing the value of Erasmus+ mobility and youth training through the European Voluntary Service (EVS) scheme.
My network of trainers and educators has expanded, and will continue to inspire me when I spend the rest of the summer with my thoughts and my ideas and my occasional dreams about how we can strengthen the fabric of our communities through equalities education.