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MIRROR - Youth Exchange

MIRROR - Youth Exchange

From 8th to 17th of July, we participated in a youth exchange project called MIRROR with focus on anti-racism and diversity. During these nine days, we discussed these themes with other participants, we exchanged our experiences and different activities brought up different points to consider.

The project was divided into two parts, first of which focused on learning about racism and discrimination, both as concepts and as real problems in the participating countries. In the second half, that started after our visit to Poggio Mirteto, we were supposed to think about the possible solutions to discrimination and their implementation.

During the first day of the project we got to know the other participants. We did team building activities focused on learning each other's names and then on trusting each other, such as the blind snake and the spider web. One activity had us chat for 5 minutes with random other participants, which served as an excellent ice-breaker for the entire week.

Each day began with an energizer of some kind. Energizers were quick games that got us into a more creative and engaged mindset. They were usually games where reaction time was essential.

The first part of the program included activities that made us examine racism and discrimination in the education system, in daily life, in media and institutional racism. We shared the situation of our country and we heard about the other participating countries. Other exercises made us sympathize with people discriminated against, racially or otherwise. We were thinking about the difficulties they might encounter as we imagined what their lives would be like each time we answered a question in their stead.

Thinking of solutions to racism and discrimination was the aim of the second part. In one activity we were presented with multiple situations where some kind of discrimination was happening. As a group, we discussed what the best course of action would be as the victim and as the witness. We also set short term and long term goals and a strategy on how to achieve them. Then each group presented the strategy to all other participants and together we talked about the best kinds of strategies, real life examples and our experiences.

Communicating in foreign language for the entirety of the project was a challenge. Ideas that we were trying to express would be often difficult to explain even in our native language. It was also interesting to sometimes help other participants find the right words or seek for the right expression on the internet together. Throughout the entire week we became more comfortable speaking and thinking in English.

Our experience during the project has undeniably moved us forward in our language skills and in our ability to be a force against racism and discrimination. An idea circulated around on the project, that if only more people were aware of the problems minorities face, it would be so much easier to fight against it. But in that way this project totally succeeded. It made a group of passionate young people aware of these problems and gave them tools and know-how necessary to make a change. Thank you.

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