By Nadja Grintzewitsch
Knowledge multipliers in the field of education who organize an international youth encounter for the first time are faced with a multitude of tasks. Besides the organizational details, such as travel, accommodation or meals for the participants, which of course have to be arranged way in advance, at some point the organizers confront the question of how the concrete implementation of the project should look. What content should the participants develop, what group sizes are to be expected? How can one in fact work with young people who speak many different languages in a best-case scenario? Which common language does one agree upon? Which pedagogical methods can and should be applied?
Different yet equal
My link recommendation concerns the English-language educational tool "all different – all equal," which was created by the European Youth Center in Budapest and was made possible by funding from the European Union. People who already work with intercultural groups or want to do so in the future find a range of suggestions for implementing their projects here. Three chapters deal with different approaches to the overarching themes of diversity, anti-discrimination work and human rights education and present concrete methods for working with young people that can also be put to use in adult education.
A major advantage of the site is that it tries, mainly in the second chapter, to define and delimit terms relevant to human rights education (intolerance, discrimination, xenophobia, racism...). This is done in an accessible manner, without sounding too scientific, and is thus particularly suited for young people. One might ask, however, why only anti-Semitism is mentioned as a separate field, but not antiziganism, anti-Africanism or homophobia.
In the first two chapters, explanations are regularly punctuated by reflective questions ("What forms of discrimination exist? What is the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker?"). The text often does not contain answers to these interposed questions; rather, the readers are encouraged to think about them or to do their own research. Some examples of questions are: "If a child is born to a foreign couple in your country, what citizenship does it have?" or "How many people actually make up a minority?" Thus, the questions are not merely factual, nor are they loaded; they are phrased to be open.
The third chapter also deserves special mention. Here, knowledge multipliers may find new suggestions for icebreakers, introduction games, role-plays etc. They will be grateful to find a comprehensive introduction to the methods presented and general tips for the organizers on implementing an intercultural educational program.
GIMA – group atmosphere, image, mechanism, act
The methods are classified according to the letters G (group atmosphere = improving group dynamics), I (image = working on the image the participants have of other cultures and countries), M (mechanisms = investigating the causes and mechanisms that lead to discrimination) and A (act = possible actions for social change based on equality and acceptance). There are also four different learning levels, where Level 1 corresponds to a short activity and serves as a warm-up, whereas Level 4 requires the ability to concentrate, prior knowledge, more effort to prepare and usually more time to complete. This classification makes it easier to determine the most appropriate method for the group at hand.
The method "Personal Heroes" (Level I&A 2) asks each participant to think of a personal role model and to talk about their choice with the other participants. The names, nationalities and lines of work (sports, music, politics) of the personal heroes are to be collected on a flip chart. Then the participants are asked to analyze in plenary whether certain trends can be observed (gender, nationality, age) and what the reasons for this might be. The aim of this method is for participants in intercultural groups to get to know each other better, talk about national role models and historical discourses and in a final step also discuss the role of the media in the (lack of) popularity of the respective persons.
In the "Eurojoke Contest" (Level I&M 4), which takes 45 minutes, preselected "normal" jokes as well as jokes about minorities (including vegetarians, pop stars, politicians) are to be rated individually and analyzed together. This requires a warm-up and preceding discussions among the participants, so that stereotypes in the jokes are not merely reproduced but critically reflected. A goal of this method is that participants raise their voices against discriminatory "jokes" in the future, whenever they hear one.
These and other pedagogical methods are presented in detail on the website, including a description of how to proceed, recommended group size and expected duration. An annotated link list contains additional information on international youth organizations in the fields of sports, media, education and many other subjects. The only downside is that the toolkit is available only in English and French. On the other hand, knowledge multipliers in international youth encounters will tend to rely on English anyway. Nevertheless, a translation into Spanish and German would be desirable for the future.