Diversity & anti-discrimination was the main topic of the “PeerAct” training course in Struga. Youth in the partnership countries still discriminate and show intolerance towards their peers (based on religion, gender, ethnicity, race, disability, or sexual orientation or simply not fitting the social norms). This situation is not compatible with EU values, and a solution for combating this phenomenon is needed. Youth NGOs need to tackle this issue through an effective solution and resources to implement a high-impact solution at the local level.
For a few days, international mobility took place in Macedonia, with all participants who will have organized their short local workshops. Seventy participants were trained for ten days in a few groups by two certified trainers/groups of +-25 participants. Each day they were allocated to one of the program’s learning units, as follows: introduction to facilitation, planning a workshop, facilitation skills and techniques, assessing participant’s facilitation skills, evaluation and follow-up. In addition to acquiring skills and knowledge on facilitation, workshop management, giving and receiving feedback, participants had the opportunity to take the floor and deliver activities they’ve previously experienced to get advice from their peers and assess their competencies. They received the EPTO AWOD Manual for peer trainers and became “Peer Certified,” which allows them to facilitate longer workshops promoting non-discrimination, tolerance, solidarity, and equality in the youth environment back home.
The theory of change is that by involving young people in the workshops that use the AWOD anti-bias methodology, we will foster the knowledge, understanding, and ownership of fundamental EU values among at least 70% of them.
It is an international effort of nine partners from eight European countries to contribute substantially to building societies and to tackling all forms of discrimination, intolerance, and inequality by involving youngsters and communities from different backgrounds and countries.
It is based on the “A world of difference – AWOD” training program, which has been used for more than 20 years and has already proven its effectiveness in fostering non-discrimination, tolerance, solidarity, and equality on more than 350 000 worldwide beneficiaries.
Participants shared their thoughts about their experience in Struga:
Ana Rita, Portugal
“This week in Struga really changed my life. The way I saw myself and how I thought people saw me made a complete turn. I don’t know how to explain this feeling, but it’s like I never knew who I was, and now I’m starting to know. Besides that, I met people that I want to take with me for the rest of my life (you included) for a lot of reasons, but the main one is their big warming heart. Of course that during this training, we learned a lot about discrimination and diversity and how to organize a workshop overall, but I like to think that everyone (participants and trainers) learned more about themselves and changed for the better (even if it’s just a few days of happiness and laughter). The impact of this week is steel not complete within me, but the ones that are close to me said I’m completely different and that they would like to have this experience.”
“I’ve discovered a hidden feeling of thirst for knowledge and a keen desire to share awareness. Having people with the same goals, views of the society, and making connections was also one of the best parts of this experience.”
“I realized that being a trainer is challenging but a very rewarding job. Despite the fact that you are there to train others and help them self-reflect, the more important thing is that you are growing in the process as well. I am very glad that I was lucky enough to get to experience the time in Struga, and I’d like to say something to everyone who is reading this – Be courageous and grasp every opportunity life throws at you; fear is temporary, regret is forever!”
“Since I’m coming from a small town, I noticed a huge difference between friends in my town and friends that I recently made during this project. I love how open-minded people in Struga were, and they made me feel welcomed and free to talk about my thoughts that I’m not usually saying because I’m afraid of judging. They said that we would create a safe space for all of us, and we did, and it made me express my true self.”
“A week full of rain can never make a bad appearance out of a positive atmosphere! The point of the workshops was not only to be trained as a facilitator but also to meet new cultures, lifestyles, and personalities and how to respect each and every one of them! Wanting to go back again clearly shows that we had an amazing and productive time in Struga.”
The project is hosted by Volunteers Centre Skopje and implemented by EPTO | European Peer Training Organisation, partner organizations are: Pomoc deci, Youth on the Move, Ofensiva Tinerilor, Par – Respostas Sociais and Humanitas Charity.