The "Civic Consciousness - Instead of Prejudices" Projects' Youth Exchange was held on 03-10 May 2019 in Nyíregyháza, Hungary.

The “Civic Consciousness – Instead of Prejudices” Projects’ Youth Exchange was held on 03-10 May 2019 in Nyíregyháza, Hungary.

Twenty-seven participants came together from different parts of Europe, namely Greece, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Netherlands and Austria. This project is part of a huge international framework called Erasmus+ which was founded by the European Union in 2014. Erasmus+ allows youngsters from the age of 16 to 30 to have an international experience and develop skills and attitudes which will be useful for their personal growth as well as the society where they live. In particular, Nyiregyhaza held a project titled ‘Civic Consciousness’ focused on the topic of stereotypes and prejudices, a major issue in modern society and Europe. The project was carried out by the Hungarian organization Kulturális Életért Közhasznú Egyesület with the special collaboration of Associazione Culturale Gentle Giant from Italy, Szatmári Fiatalokért Kulturális Egyesület from Romania, Institut Für Interdisziplinäre Bildung from Austria, Astiki Mi Kerdoskopiki Eteria En Gnosi from Greece and ILA from Netherland.

In our time, which is defined by increasing interaction between different cultures, it is important to make sure that people are ready to handle that level of integration between different civilisations. Eliminating or reducing prejudices and stereotypes is an excellent first step, and it was the main aim of this project. We carried out several activities during the seven days of the youth exchange, but first of all, we started to get to know each other and „break the ice”, making the group more united, in order to develop the activities in a better environment and atmosphere. Then we started to analyze the subject focusing on stereotypes, social processes, social behaviour, categorization, discrimination, integration – assimilation, responsibility and disadvantages. An example of this was the collages illustration made by mixed teams. Each one of them had a different subject connected with the topic, for example, words such as “multiculturalism”, “stereotypes” and “integration” and, using creativity as the main tool, we picked the most significant pictures from different magazines and drew some images to express our meaning of the analyzed subject and discuss it with the whole group.

Living and working with people from different countries for a week, exchanging opinions and perspectives on everything, was an eye-opening experience for all of us. We learnt a lot about how things that might seem weird to us can seem normal to others and vice versa. We learnt attitudes like the capacity to listen to each other, develop empathy and increase the capacity to work in an international group. We also came in contact with different ways of life and, although we were prepared, we were surprised by the diversity we encountered. All in all, it was an amazing experience and we gained a lot of new knowledge and skills. And when we get back to our countries we will make sure to spread it all in our local communities in order to contribute to creating a better and more tolerant society.