We went to a training course which took place in Antalya, Turkey. The name of the project was "Multipliers of Non Formal & Intercultural Communication". 4 people from each country were brought together from Finland, Croatia, Estonia, Turkey, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Portugal and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We stayed in Falcon hotel, which became a very dear second home for all of us for 8 days. The objective of the training course was sharing realities in different European countries when it comes to challenges related to dealing with cultural diversity. We focused mainly on stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination, inclusion-exclusion, diversity, identity and culture.
The programme began at 9:30 every day and ended around 19:00-22:00. In our everyday activities we used David Kolb's Experimental Learning Cycle which in a simpler way consisted of four parts: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. So first we had an activity, then we reflected and reviewed it, after than we learned from the experience and then we tried out what we had learned.
We did a lot of interesting stuff – such as forum theatre and we even played out a scene from the Albatross culture (without having no clue what's going on!). In the albatross stimulation we had to make pairs of two. One had to be male and the other female. Groups of 4 were lead to another conference room, where our trainers wore white sheets instead of regular clothes, had flowers in their hair and only hissed instead of speaking. As expected, we were all quite speechless. The whole aura of the room felt mysterious and none of us dared to speak a word. The female trainer, Ieva, showed us – women – that we have to remove our shoes while men could keep them on. All of us had to sit in a circle, men on chairs and women on the ground, next to their partner from the previous pairings. While all men had to wash their hands and were fed bread, women had to take the bread from the basket on their own without getting the chance to wash their hands first. Men put their hands on the women beside them and we all bowed down to the ground. Some women (and one brave guy) felt injustice and went out of the circle, saying that they don't like the discrimination againt women that's happening.
Later on when we were reflecting on the activity, quite many of us were still at a loss of words and tried to take in what just happened. We all thought that women were treated differently, badly. However, it turned out that in Albatross culture women are the only ones who can directly be connected to the Earth because they're pure (hence the sitting on the ground and wearing no shoes) and that's why men couldn't take the bread on their own – they're dirty and shouldn't touch it. In Albatross culture there's no God, people bow to Mother Earth. Simply said – we all had judged the situation way too quickly.
The trainers always had new and exciting activies up their sleeves and they even gave us a chance to make our own activities for the others, after which that we all got feedback. I, for example, had no idea how difficult it actually is to prepare interesting activities that we all could learn from.
On the first day we created „families“, with whom we later reflected on the day, activities and our emotions. It really helped us to bond even more and we all shared laughter and tears together.
All the participants, trainers and organizers were absolutely amazing and we had a lot of fun within the programme and outside of it. We still send messages and pictures of our everyday life on Whatsapp and we're already planning to meet up again.
Don't be scared, take part of a project and I promise – you won't regret it!
Sandra Salóme Ust.
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