The third week of February, three representants of Xchange Scotland – Martin, Julia and Thomas – set off to Poggio Mirteto, a beautiful town in the Central Italy, to fight against racism. They took a part in the Erasmus+ Training course ‘Take it out: Shaping your commitment against racism’ which was organised by our Italian partner Lunaria. The training course was part of series of seminars and training courses for youth workers and young people promoting awareness on the daily growth of racism, xenophobia and various shapes of discrimination. Different perspectives and multicultural insights to the topic were supported by hosting participants from various European countries, such as Greece, Czech Republic, Spain, Turkey, Romania, Hungary and France. Let’s have a look what Martin says about his first international training experience!
It was a fantastic opportunity to attend the ‘Take It Out’ training on behalf of Xchange Scotland. When I heard that Xchange Scotland had managed to get a place on the program my interest was peaked immediately. The opportunity to learn about hate speech and racism with young people from across Europe was too good to pass up.
Growing up in Glasgow and having been active in the refugee and human rights movements, I have had some experience dealing with hate speech. My home city has a tremendous track record welcoming refugees and playing a leading part in anti-racism campaigns (such as that against Apartheid), but alas we are blighted by our own unique brand of sectarianism which means that hate speech is a part of daily life for many. Working with refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow is a phenomenal experience which can open your eyes to the very best, bravest and kindest of human nature – but all too the very worst comes into your email inbox, comments section or straight to your face on the street.
On a personal level, it was fascinating to meet young people from all over Europe and compare and contrast our experiences. Meeting people such as Nicole, who works with a refugee project in Greece – at the bare face of the humanitarian crisis – was very inspiring. I also met Raphael whose project in France worked to provide services and support for the refugees of Calais who are trying desperately to come to the UK and reunite with their families and seek a better life. Meeting these people showed me how much can be achieved by a committed young activist and how much youth led organisations can contribute to solving international crises.
On a practical level, the training was also incredibile. We held workshops on techniques which I had never considered could be used to combat hate speech. We learned a huge amount about immersive theatre and how by constructing situations where audience members are compelled to act we can break down barriers between different groups. We also learned how we can create videos and workshops for high school pupils, where the concepts that make up hate speech can be broken down and examined.
And, where are YOU going next?
Written by Martin Patrick Lennon