Our Sleep For Peace workshop facilitator, Deirdre Quinlan will be visiting hostels in Killarney and Errigal and working with young people this September. We asked her to tell us how the Sleep For Peace workshops will help young people explore the issues raised by intercultural encounters.
The concept of diversity is at the core of the Sleep for Peace workshop. Young people will explore acceptance, respect and understanding that each individual is unique. This will help them to recognise our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. During the workshops we will be exploring these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. Diversity is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. During our present refugee crisis it is of the upmost importance to help young people learn how to recognise and correct stereotypes, to find common ground and to be able to celebrate differences in our society.
Non Formal Learning
During the workshop we will look at our differences and what we have in common through non-formal learning. It has been recognised that formal educational systems alone cannot respond to the challenges of modern society. Non-formal education is an integral part of a lifelong learning concept that ensures that young people and adults acquire and maintain the skills, abilities and dispositions needed to adapt to a continuously changing environment. In this instance we will be using non formal educational methods and approach to promote cultural diversity and intercultural learning with the young people.
Benefits of Intercultural Experiences
Through my work in international youth work with Eolas Soileir, developing our intercultural competences has been to the fore. This August we ran two international residential youth projects, one for youth workers and the other for young people. The theme of these projects was positive mental health, resilience and empowerment. Workshops like this will work very well with An Oige’s ethos of providing young people with opportunities to experience different cultures through travel. International travel is an intercultural experience. It is about crossing borders and visiting other countries. It is about the meeting of different people, languages, traditions, values and ways of interpreting the world. Benefits can be:
- Traveling to a new country builds confidence and expands your comfort zone.
- Learning to connect with people from different cultures leads to quicker adaptations and success in new environments.
- Intercultural competencies can help us manage the challenges of a global environment.
- International experiences cultivate cultural and interpersonal understanding and help build more effective communication skills.
Intercultural learning is about gaining practical knowledge of the differences and similarities between cultures, but it also goes deeper. It involves discovering how your own cultural identities shape the way you understand and operate in the world. It recognizes the culture at work in your everyday experience. It is also the key to a rewarding international experience. Expanding your own intercultural awareness transforms the way you communicate with people and helps you form meaningful connections.
The Sleep for Peace Workshops will be interactive. They will be fun and reflective. They are designed to help young people build their intercultural skills by helping them discover how their own cultural identities shape the way they understand and operate in the world. They will recognise the culture at work in their everyday experiences. Simply immersing yourself in a different culture does not automatically lead to deeper intercultural awareness. Growing their intercultural understanding depends on a blend of personal motivation and guided non-formal learning which will happen during the Sleep For Peace programme and the workshops.
Each activity in the Sleep For Peace workshops will be experiential with the young people taking part in the activity and reflecting on their learning through a debriefing. This debriefing and reflection is an integral part of Non Formal Learning, helping the young person link their experiences to their everyday lives. Reflection is recognized as one of the most important transferable competences in learning processes, especially for personal and professional lifelong learning.
Theatre of the Oppressed
In the workshop we will be using some of the methodologies from Theatre of the Oppressed. This is a form of popular community based non formal education that uses theatre as a tool for learning and social change. T.O. invites critical thinking. It is about analysing, rather than accepting, questioning rather than giving answers. It is also about taking action – ‘acting’ rather than just talking. I have used many of the games from T.O. and other non-formal methods whilst running training courses and youth projects for the Erasmus+ youth programme both here in Ireland and abroad so I am looking forward to working with the young people in hostels.
Deirdre Quinlan is a Youth and Community worker. She is also a freelance trainer and facilitator with extensive experience in international youth work and life-long learning. She is a founding member of Eolas Soiléir, an educational charity supporting quality non-formal education and volunteering in Ireland and Europe. She has a deep commitment to education and non-formal education in particular and is a member of the trainer pool for Leargas the Irish National Agency for the Erasmus+ programme. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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