From January 2009 to July 2010, partners of the Pakiv European Network from Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany and Hungary developed and carried out the campaign, Different People. One Europe! The overall aim of the project was to promote intercultural understanding and respect for diversity, especially with regards to Roma. The campaign employed a bottom-up approach, enabling local groups, especially youth, to take actions against harmful stereotypes and negative perceptions. Local level actions were complimented with transnational actions, which provided campaign implementers with opportunities to learn new skills, exchange ideas and experiences across borders, and develop joint actions. Through in-country surveys on previous campaigning initiatives in the participating countries, the importance of methods that engage people actively was also recognized as an effective approach. Therefore the campaign relied heavily on what we term, ‘people-to-people’ elements, which created positive, interactive experiences to disprove negative attitudes and stereotypes. All local actions were carried out under the slogan Different People. One Europe! yet local groups could decide upon the types of campaigning actions they would like to carry out. Many also developed additional local campaign slogans to transmit their messages. In this regard, the campaign was realized through a wide range of actions, using different methods, decided upon at the grassroots level.
Background of the Different People. One Europe! project
The Different People. One Europe! campaign carried out by over 25 local youth groups in Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany and Hungary. The campaign is supported by the European Commission DG Justice, Freedom and Security – Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Unit and the Open Society Institute, under the auspices of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, amongst others.
The overall aim of this campaign is to promote intercultural understanding and respect for diversity. The idea of the project was motivated by the coordinating partners‘ desire to enable local youth groups from Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark and Hungary to take actions to combat harmful stereotypes and negative perceptions of Roma. Campaigning actions target both the majority and minority populations on the local level, with a special focus on Roma and young people, and develops a wide range of positive examples of youth organizing for the values of human rights, intercultural understanding, anti-discrimination and celebration of diversity.
In the first part of the project, activities focused on identifying past and existing strategies to take action against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism and building capacities of local organizations and networks to plan and implement campaigning actions. An international training on human rights, intercultural understanding and campaign action planning for predominantly Roma youth from each of the 25 participating localities was held in September 2009. Following this, in-country workshops were organized in each country for local youth teams to plan their campaign.
All campaign actions ran over the same period, presented as part of an European campaign, implemented on the local level. Regular updates are made to the campaign site: oneurope.wordpress.com. Local campaigning partners in Hungary include the Organization of Roma Representatives from South Somogy County (DCKSZ), Khetanipe Assocation (Pécs), Romaversitas network of Roma university students, Give a Hand Assocition (Add a Kezed) (Tiszavasvári), Romano Teatro (Miskolc). Local campaign activities include: Intercultural music festival, song production and university campaign combating anti-Roma stereotypes, video-clip productions, radio show on tolerance, wall painting of Roma and non-Roma youth, Encounter Group discussion, Roma parents’ club and mediated dialogue with school staff to address issues of rising school violence and aggression amongst students.
Germany’s One Europe! partners from Berlin – Amaro Drom, MediaRroma and RAA are working with 20 young Roma and non-Roma to prepare for spring and summer campaign actions. The team is supported by Germany’s famous rapper Tibor Sturm, aka Quietstorm, who is one of the founders of the anti-racist German rap musician’s group Brothers Keepers. Quietstorm is recording a rapsong against Anti-Gypsism with the youth team, which will accompany the campaign actions. Campaigning activities include video interviews with people on the street about stereotypes towards Roma and Sinti. Roma and non-Roma girls enjoy traditional dance lessons together showing Romani culture is an integrated part of the popular culture in Germany. Photos and personal texts from Roma children, created with the support of actors and photographers, will tell stories of very early discrimination in the school and also be used for the planned campaigning workshops. Finally 7-8 workshops with town administrations, schools and inhabitants from areas where it is likely to have Roma from Southeast Europe working on the streets are also planned. The workshops will combine a scientific explanation of the history and function of Anti-Gypsism in the German society, along with films, discussions, dance, photo exhibition and a theatre play from young people.
In connection with the One Europe project, Crossing Borders is currently working with 5 different organizations from the Zealand region of Denmark, creating and conducting campaigns on intercultural understanding and integration of migrant groups (including Roma groups) primarily at senior high schools. Partner organizations include: International Youth Exchange Community, Fokus—Association of Kurdish Students and Academicians in Denmark, Avedøre Gymnasium, and Copenhagen International Youth Organization. The activities include research and unveiling of prejudices and xenophobia at the high schools, positive interaction activities such as video production, trainings on attitudes and understanding and sharing of information and knowledge to create an environment in which positive experiences can grow.
Pakiv European Network in Bulgaria worked with local Roma and non-Roma youth groups in 12 localities throughout Bulgaria who organized a series of local campaigning actions in each participating locality, from November to February. Local actions included human rights and tolerance training in high schools, peer facilitation and training, intercultural events in kindergartens, photo, video-clip and painting competitions on the themes of intercultural understanding, cultural performances and expos, World Café discussions, Miss Intercultural pageant, concerts and forum theatre.
Following the implementation of the local campaign actions, local actors, especially youth, will be gathered together at the transnational level in Budapest for synthesizing learning, articulating effective practices, showcasing their campaigns and organizing a joint action in support of tolerance, human rights and intercultural understanding.