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LaBe project "How to overcome stereotypes about migrants?"

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Lampedusa, Berlin. Travel journal
Europe for Citizens Program – Strand2: Democratic engagement and civic participation
2.3: Civil Society Project
Project: 577736-CITIZ-1-2016-1-IT-CITIZ-CIV

Partner meeting and conference
27-29 April 2017, Budapest (Hungary)

Results of the panel:
"How to overcome stereotypes about migrants?"

Published in: Education
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LaBe project "How to overcome stereotypes about migrants?"

  1. 1. This project has been funded with support the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 1 Lampedusa, Berlin. Travel journalEurope for Citizens Program – Strand2: Democratic engagement and civic participation 2.3: Civil Society Project Project: 577736-CITIZ-1-2016-1-IT-CITIZ-CIV Partner meeting and conference 27-29 April 2017, Budapest (Hungary) Results of the panel: "How to overcome stereotypes about migrants?"
  2. 2. This project has been funded with support the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 2 The second event of the project Lampedusa Berlin saw the realization of the public panel:"How to overcome stereotypes about migrants?" The panel, conducted with the Open Narrating Space methodology, has seen strong participation, and has developed on three thematic areas: 1- Stereotypes in everyday culture 2- Good Practices for overcoming stereotypes against migrants/refugees 3 - Integration policies 1. Stereotypes in everyday culture Main questions: - What are the prevalent stereotypes in your country? - Why could these stereotypes spread in the society? - What fosters these stereotypes? Problems: ● assimilation or integration? fear of losing identity (but what is identity?) ● people need a scapegoat ● lack of knowledge, lack of wish for knowledge ● migration phenomenon is still considered to be an emergency rather than a long-term problem ● why national movements are born? Why do they attract so many people? ● we want to think instead of refugees ● fake news on the internet ● distinction of economic migrants and political refugees ● migrant deliquency in small cities? ● lack of integration policies from the government ● shut out people from our lives Stereotypes: ● migrants have to be poor ● judgement based on external features ● all muslim women’s rights are denied by their men and their society ● migrants don’t want to integrate ● Muslims are terrorists / migrants are all islam fundamentalists ● Black men are dealers and criminals ● migrants steal work of Italian people ● migrants don’t works because they don’t want to ● Roma people commit most of the crimes in Romania ● Hungarians want to steal the lands in Romania
  3. 3. This project has been funded with support the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 3 Proposals: ● Attitudes towards migrants would be changed. Awareness-raising. Sensitizing host society. ● Awareness-raising from early age ● psycho-education ● positive examples through sport (e.g.: Oltalom Sport Association) ● exchange programs (Life Long Learning programs, EVS, Erasmus+, scholarships): intercultural preparation of participants ● digital suitcase ● involve migrants in proposals and solutions ● involve migrants in arts project, have a different perspective on migrants ● TV should show a multicultural and multilingual society ● Migrants on TV ● institutionalized integration programs, e.g.: school workshops, curriculum Based on the conversation, a distinction should be made between the existing stereotypes and problems associated with migrants and refugees. Amongst the problems appeared the question: assimilation or integration should be done, which raises up the fear of losing one’s identity. Governments lack integration policies and the phenomenon of migration is still considered to be an emergency situation than a long term condition, and the solutions adjust to that fact. People need scapegoat for the currently existing problems, and blaming refugees and migrants is the most obvious answer. People want to think instead of the migrants. Fake news that appear on the internet have a huge influence on how people approach migrants. The fact that people don’t distinct economic migrants from political refugees also aggravate the solution of the problem. A more concrete problem is the migrant delinquency in smaller cities. At the end it also has to be mentioned that making decisions based only on stereotypes and information from the media and no giving a chance for ourselves to get to know them, we shut out many people from our lives. One has to state, that besides the negative stereotypes there are also the positive ones, however, in the discussion, mostly the former type came up. The conversation revealed that even though we come from a great variety of cultures, the prevailed stereotypes are very similar in every country. Many of these stereotypes are fostered by the lack of knowledge amongst the receiving societies and also by the lack of will for knowledge, which is one of the problems associated with the phenomenon of migration. The abovementioned shortages give space for the, many times, simplistic and distorted conceptions about migrants and refugees staying in our countries. The most prevalent stereotypes were the following: (1) All migrants have to be poor. (2) All muslim women’s rights are denied by their men and their society. (3) Migrants don’t want to integrate into the host society they arrive to. (4) Muslims are terrorist and and muslim migrants are all Islamic fundamentalists. (5) Afro-american men are dealers and criminals. (6) Migrants steal work opportunities from members of the host society. (7) The reason migrants don’t work is because they don’t want to work. (8) Most of the committed crimes are enacted by Roma people. (9) Minorities want to regain territories in certain countries formerly belonged to them. In general, the attitudes toward migrants and refugees should be changed. In parallel with their integration, the host society needs to go through a sensitization process and
  4. 4. This project has been funded with support the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 4 awareness raising in order to be prepared to receive the new arrivals. Awareness raising works best if it starts from as early age as possible. There are different methods for sensitizing a society, such as psychoeducation targeted different age group. Institutionalized integration programs, e.g. theme oriented school workshops or extended curriculums can help both the hosting society and the arriving migrants and refugees. Nowadays many cultural/educational exchange programs exist, i.e. European Voluntary Service, Erasmus +, different scholarships, etc.). As to make the most from these exchanges both in terms of education and in terms of openness and cultural sensitization, intercultural preparation should be organized before departure. It is extremely important that migrants and refugees be involved in the proposals and solutions that affect them in order that their actual needs be met. One significant field where integration can happen is that of the sport, thus positive examples should be emphasized, spread and demonstrated throughout the society. In addition to sport, art is also an area, where integration can be fostered. Art projects can also serve as therapeutic methods. Through these interventions migrants and refugees are able to, if not fully but at least partially- process their possible traumas, thus more open and ready to merge into the society. In the XXIth Century, television and other media means dispose a great influence on people’s opinion, thus those can be used as an instrument in the sensitization process. TV should show a multicultural and multilingual society, as exists in reality. One example is a TV show from Italy, that involved Albanian refugees living in the country. Another example from Italy is the ‘digital suitcase’, which reflects to the fact that nowadays it is possible to ‘put our lives’ on one digital device (photos, messages, letters, books, etc.) that can be carried with us everywhere. Since news and articles about migrants and refugees mainly report about their burden and difficulties they have to experience, it is important to put a focus on an aspect of their life which and personality, which shows us that they are like us, with the same needs and same dreams. 2. Good Practices for overcoming stereotypes against migrants/refugees The report includes Good Practices Panel’s main questions and answers given by panel participants (posted on flipchart), that is followed by a short summary. Main questions: ● Do you know good practices that help reducing/overcoming stereotypes towards migrants? ● What works? and why? (elements of good practices) - Improvement of communication - Language classes with emphasis on culture - Learn about their history, current situation, habits and traditions - Organizing multicultural events
  5. 5. This project has been funded with support the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 5 - Education: workshops in schools/universities (including exhibitions, videos, films, lifestory telling, etc.) - Deliver football trainings on regular bases - - Organizing football tournaments with refugees and Hungarian citizens, using special Fair Play (F3) rules - Next-door family: meals between a local and an immigrant family in one of their houses, so they get to know each other, share a meal and set the basis for a future relationship - Involving women with different cultural background (cooking together, sharing food/culture) - Involving them in communities: opennes, no degrading while helping - Anti-rumour agents network: volunteers trained to stop rumours in everyday life with real data and information to deconstruct false stereotypes - Mentoring practices: locals and foreigners sharing daily life and helping each other What works? and why? (elements of good practices) Personal level: ● Getting to know different people destroys stereotypes (stereotypes are based on ignorance and on fear of the unknown) - trade your fears for curiosity and interact more ● Provoke empathy with “the other” - “the different”, by making people aware that everybody, all of us is part of a stereotype (we are all same all different) ● Creating art work - shared creativ experience Content of events, campaigns - How to reach/involve those who are not interested? No direct sensitization, no direct focus on migration and refugee issues, but broader framework, inviting, including everyone (e.g. football tournament, sports, kids programs (Kids Island - Colourful Village). Even those will participate who would never decide to visit a migrant related activity. Involving migrants/refugees (who are the subject of stereotypes) Providing activities, serving needs that are basic, practical, and of mutual interest (reciprocity) Summary Involvement and interaction were the key words participants mentioned most often in the panel discussion on Good Practices for overcoming stereotypes against migrants/refugees. Our general starting point was that for overcoming stereotypes towards migrants/refugees we need improvement in communication. Some suggestions were related to either of the concerned groups: ● for migrants/refugees: Language classes with emphazis on culture
  6. 6. This project has been funded with support the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 6 ● for the receiving community: Learn about their history, current situation, habits and traditions Our discussion was one step further developed when “we” and “they” were brought together to the same event, e.g. multicultural events, sensitizing workshops at schools (through migrant’s life story telling). Further on we came to agree that the most effective actions against stereotypes are local activities that involve both groups on the basis of serving simple and reciprocal everyday needs on a practical and joyful way. E.g. football trainings/tournaments (Fair Play (F3) rules); Next-door family; Mentoring. Reciprocity can play a crucial role in overcoming - among others - the migrant/refugee’s stereotype of being in need. The commonplace dependent position is transformed into equal partnership. Panel’s participants seemed to believe that good practices against stereotypes are based on interactions that allow people to get to know each other, and at the same time overcome ignorance and fear of the unknown. Besides of helping one another in everyday life, and doing sports together creating artwork - shared creative experience was also highly valued as a tool for combating stereotypes. On a more general communication level awareness raising is believed to be efficient through provoking empathy with “the other” by making people aware that everybody, all of us is part of a stereotype (we are all same, and all different). Raising the question of how to reach/involve those who are not interested, we came to the conclusion that sensitization is more efficient when there is no direct focus on migration and refugee issues but there is a broader framework inviting, including everyone (e.g. football tournament, sports, kids program). Meaningful, joyful activities - with joint intercultural activities - can attract even those who would never decide to visit a migrant related activity.
  7. 7. This project has been funded with support the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 7 3. Integration policies The report includes Integration policies’ panel’s main questions and answers given by panel participants (posted on flipchart), that is followed by a short summary. Main questions: ● Is there an integration policy in your country? ● How do these policies contribute to overcoming stereotypes about migrants? ● What should an integration policy contain? Participants in the group had discussions on the following fields of integration in detail: ○ education ○ language ○ housing ○ employment/labour market ○ media ○ social and cultural integration Problems in each field: Language and education: ● educational paths available/offered by the states often do not meet expectations and needs of migrants/refugees Employment: ● Germany: employment ban has been reduced to 3 months, but EU citizens still have a proirity in filling job vacancies ● South-Italy: there is more inclusion on the social level than in employment ● Italy: policies are supported by trade unions where migrants are not represented, there is a high rate of unemployment of migrants Accommodation: ● accommodation and assistance marginalizes refugees in most countries Media: ● Hungary: media campaign against migrants Social integration: ● it is often difficult to get used to the rules and habits (daily routine) of a country ● Italy: social inclusion is “patchworked” in the country: both good and weak experiences, depending on the region ● Italy: economically depressed areas have more inclusive strategies and good practices
  8. 8. This project has been funded with support the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 8 Proposals: Language and education: ● education is the most important of all policies! ● Italy: homogenize good practices ● language courses provided by the state ● meet the needs, skills and educational level of migrants vs. integrated education Accommodation: ● refugees shelters should be in central location of cities / mixed/integrated neighbourhood ● Tuscany, Italy: diffusion of accommodation Employment: ● meet the needs of migrants and employers Media: ● Italy: ethical code for journalist Cultural integration: ● Italy: policies of cultural integration exist but should be put into practice Legal: ● put pressure on governments to give stricter punishment to racist acts of crime Summary: First, participants of this group shared the problems related to existing (or non-existing) integration policies in their countries. The main focus was on education, learning the language of the new country and employment - as the basic steps toward social integration. Participants agreed that discrepancies in the education and language training of migrants have to be solved somehow: in some cases language training should focus on special needs and skills of migrants and provide a basic education first, then integrated education. Regarding employment, participants agreed that in every state there are many obstacles set in front of migrants in the labour market even though the policies might be supportive in theory. Needs of migrants have to be assessed and represented in the labour market, policies have include the needs of migrants as well. Every participant agreed that it is a general practice that state accommodations for refugees are segregated and make integration extremely difficult. Italy has some innovative examples to this issue that could be spread, but in general it should be promoted that at least new accommodations should not be segregated.
  9. 9. This project has been funded with support the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 9 Regarding stereotypes about migrants, obviously the media has a great responsibility. A good practice from Italy, namely an ethical code obligatory for journalists when speaking about migrants, refugees, ethnic and other minorities is an example to follow for all member states. Participants also found that often there is a gap between policies and practices. When there is a good intregration policy, stakeholder need to be encouraged to make sure that the practice is in line with the policy.

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