HateBusters! Empowering Youth Workers to Combat Hate Speech — Armenia & Netherlands

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ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: training course

Venues and dates: 

  • 1st part: training course: Dilijan, Armenia, 22—30 November 2023
  • 2nd part: System and outreach development activities | Local Campaigns in participating countries | 15 December 2023 – 15 February 2024
  • 3rd part: evaluation seminar: Ommen, Netherlands, 14—22 March 2024

National team: 2 participants

Please read the info-pack.

Hosting organisation: Armenian Progressive Youth (APY, Armenia) & Olde Vechte (Netherlands)

Project report from 1. part – training course – Armenia – November 2023:

Participating countries: Armenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Poland, Italy, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, Albania, Hungary, The Netherlands, Turkey

Everybody says Armenians are the most loving, welcoming, kind and generous people you’ll ever meet. Armenia is therefore a perfect country to host a project that’s supposed to teach people how to recognize and combat hatespeech!

More that 17 nationalities assembeled on the 22nd November in Dilijan to collect as much knowledge and skills as possible in the span of a single week. Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, Spain, Moldova, Estonia, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, The Netherlands, Georgia, Hungary… These seemingly random countries are connected in one objective: Trying to understand those participating in hatespeech and brainstorming a way of reducing it as much as possible – on the internet, but in real life as well. People of all ages, genders and social classes were kind enough to share their life and work experiences with others.

During our stay, we were taken care of perfectly. We had the opportunity to taste traditional armenian food (loads and loads of lavash!) three times a day and during coffee breaks we were surprised by sweets and delicious desserts. Our accomodation was located deep inside the armenian mountains and forrests, alowing us to concentrate purely on our project and those participating in it. We were able to live within our small diverse society, which is an experience on its own. Poor signal, barely functioning wifi and programme loaded with various activities, workshops and presentations – sounds like a recipe for the best project ever!

At first, we were discussing what is or isn’t hatespeech, what’s exactly the definition, what we ourselves consider hatespeech and where do we draw the line – where does our freedom of expression end and where exactly does hatespeech start? We held many debates, exchanged many opinions and shared many stories and within the first hour understood that this will be a very tiring and challenging, but incredibly enriching and valuable experience that we will be able to derive from in our day to day life.

Our marvelous coaches did an amazing job with presenting activities that made us experience very raw and intense emotions and therefore we were able to take from this project as much as possible. We participated in various workshops that taught us how to be empathetic, how to handle sundry situations, how to actively listen to others, how to lead a productive conversation etc. Speaking of conversations, they did an amazing job of controlling our debates in a way that we move forward, don’t get stuck on a single point, everyone has enough space to express themselves and more importantly: feels safe to do so. They dealt with problems immediately, didn’t try to pretend like nothing’s happening and were objectively very fair. They didn’t force us into anything, we were always free to participate only in the parts of the programme we were comfortable with.

The project itself was great, but what made it even more unforgettable were the people. At first, I was kind of skeptical about the fact that the age difference is so prominent, but I quickly realized what kind of blessing it is to be sharing space with so many different personalities with unique life experiences. I learned so much from each and every one of them and I can’t be more grateful to have met them.

This should be the prototype of a project. The logical structure was ideal, the workshops to presentations to activities ratio was very fitting, the way they constructed the whole project made the whole experience very pleasant and I cannot wait for the second part of it, where all of us will share what we learned and how did we incorporate gained knowledge into our own projects!

Aneta

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