Take part in the international seminar “Be your country?!” and deconstruct culture in youth work and non-formal education!

19th October 2021

With this international seminar, we want to provide a space to critically reflect about practices of culturalization.

Online

3-9 December 2021

In youth and volunteering projects, we gather international groups of young people to foster mutual understanding and a culture of peace. Intercultural learning is our specialty!

But we have the feeling that sometimes our understanding of culture is quite limited, static and oldfashioned:  By “culture” and “cultural exchange” we often mean exchange of people from different nationalities – and we emphasize this by making jokes about national identities, asking participants to bring food from “their country”, talk about “their country”, etc. We usually don’t reflect that participants might have diverse approaches to how they feel about “their country”. We often lack an understanding for cultural nuances that go beyond nation states (class, race, gender, age, urban/rural, sexual orientation, subcultures, etc.).

With the seminar “Be your country?!”, we want to provide a space for youth workers and staff from volunteering organisations around Europe to critically reflect about their own practices of culturalization in non-formal education programs, energizers, support and training structures and free time activities. We will guide the seminar using techniques and approaches from antidiscrimination, antiracism and critical whiteness.

Some of the questions and topics we would like to explore include:

  • What do we personally and our organisations mean when we say „culture“? What effect does this understanding of culture have on our participants?
  • What is the role of national cultures in international youth projects – and how does this relate to nationalism, nationbuilding, pan-Europeanism and internationalism?
  • How can we deconstruct and play with the definition of „culture“ that our participants bring with them to our youth projects?
  • What non-formal education methods can we share or create that have critical or constructive approaches to culture? What can be progressive alternatives to an „international evening“ and to talking about “cultural shocks” solely from a national perspective?
  • How does the setup of Erasmus+ programs reinforce certain notions of culture in our projects?
  • How can we challenge existing cultures within our projects and our societies (e.g. patriarchy, heteronormativity, white supremacy, militarism) in order to create a culture of peace?

A manual will be the outcome

The results of the seminar will be critical guidelines for youth and volunteering organisations as well as a collection of methods that stimulate critical or altenative views on „culture“. These results will be collected in a manual co-created by the participants.

Online seminar?

This seminar was supposed to take place physically in Austria, but due to a COVID-19 lockdown in Austria we are moving it online. The seminar will consist of daily 3 hours video calls from 13:30-17:00 CET (with 30 min break inbetween). There will be individual assignments to do between the sessions, which you can schedule individually. The two facilitators, Simon* and Thomas, will make sure to make the seminar exciting, fun and interactive despite it being online.

What you need

  • A device with webcam and microphone (best is a laptop or computer), maybe a headset
  • a good internet connection that works with video calls (possibly we could support you with getting a better connection for the duration of the project)
  • installed and newly updated Zoom application on your device
  • Motivation: It is crucial for us that you are motivated to participate throughout the whole project, that you are not missing on any day of the project.

Participant’s profile

The project aims to gather 30 participants. The participants will be youth workers, trainers as well as staff, activists, camp coordinators and active volunteers from volunteerig organisations. All participants selected for this project should meet the following criteria

  • be 18 years old or older
  • be able to work in English
  • be interested in the seminar topics and have a strong motivation to act as a multiplier
  • Able to attend for the full duration of the seminar
  • If somehow possible and feasible, be committed to come to the seminar without flying, and to travel instead by overland route.

We explicitly encourage participants of all classes, educational backgrounds, genders, sexual  orientations, abilities and ethnic backgrounds to apply.

How to apply?

Applications should be sent to your sending organization, which will each select their own participant(s) and then forward the application(s) to SCI Austria. All those accepted will later receive a detailed infosheet (incl. more info about the agenda of the project). As the seminar takes place soon, we will accept people on a first come – first serve base.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding the project and your application, don’t hesitate to contact Thomas at thomas.schallhart@gmx.at. We are looking forward to your application 🙂

The coordinating team

Simon*, Thomas and the SCI Austria team

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