Bread and Roses
The youth exchange “Bread & Roses” which was held from the 22nd till the 29th of May 2017 in Brussels brought together young women from Greece, Italy, Spain, The UK, Turkey and FYROM/Macedonia to give a boost to already existing movements promoting the values of human rights. The facilitators from Italy, Spain, Ukraine and Turkey made the course very informative, engaging and the atmosphere incredibly warm and friendly. The main aim of the project was to explore the concept of multiple discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnicity and religion and to empower young European women by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to create a more equal and inclusive society.
During the exchange the participants discussed discrimination affecting women (gender, race, class, nationality, migration status and religion), stereotypes which the society has about women and men, talked about local communities and the ways to make them more accepting and inclusive. Each participant shared her story and her identity as a woman, showed what it meant to her to be empowered. The movie night, also, gave everyone some food for thought and touched every participants’ feelings. It was a call for action!
The working space of the project included the exhibition featuring pictures of famous women who have left a mark in history, their inspirational quotes, poems describing women and some of them written by women. So that each participant could find a woman she admires for her commitment towards women rights or women empowerment in general. Thanks to the exhibition everyone felt encouraged to make a change. At least in their local community. One of the results of the project was writing a manifesto which promotes healthy expectations from women and empowers them to be what they want to be.
This exchange was another step to create solidarity and empathy among European young women and to empower them as key drivers of change.
When Cinderella said no to the Prince.
When the little mermaid did not want to change her identity.
When the sleeping Beauty woke up with her own strength.
When 35 strong women decided to write their own story...and the project just started!
We gathered all together that sunny Monday in a cozy hostel, ''De Waterman''. First thought? ''Oops, only girls, should be boring''. Last thought? ''Why do we have to leave now...?'' Oh, yes. These seven days we spent there included an uncountable amount of memories, experiences, photos, knowledge, amusement, felicity, new cultures, excitement, cheerfulness, jubilation, vitality and so on…
‘’Got the club going up, on a Tuesday
Got your girl in the cut, and she ain't choosey’’...No, no. Our Tuesday was far more better, starting with get to know each other games. One of them that stayed in my mind was the ''portrait'': half of the team was sitting on chairs placed in a circle and the other half of the team had to draw the face of whoever was at that specific moment in front of them. The outside circle was moving so every now and then a new person was coming to continue your portrait. In the end, we placed our portraits on the wall and whoever wanted to say something about somebody, as an invisible friend for example, could leave a note inside the envelope which had that face. Just imagine how emotional it was when I opened my envelope and found good comments about me from invisible friends...Made my day super! We continued with our expectations and possible fears for the project, doing also some outdoor activities in order to build up the team spirit.
Next day and there was a variety of topics: human rights, gender equality, stereotypes, religion. And no, it didn't feel like school at all. The best thing about these kind of exchanges and projects is that it is used non formal educational method in order to get familiarized with the topics. Videos, flipcharts, team working activities, creativity, imagination all of them are the starter pack for the introduction of the subject. No tests, no evaluation, only tangible knowledge and experiential learning.
Time was passing by full of new things and games. I can state an example of an activity that really surprised us. Thursday afternoon, women empowerement, feeling comfortable with your identity, they asked us to write a letter to ourselves. Tears of joy, emotion rolled. It was a psychological punch on the face. Finally our favorite night had come: the international night. ''Love in a thousand different flavors. I wish that I could taste them all tonight'' as Jason Derulo says...Tastes from Greece, Italy, Spain, Fyrom, Turkey etc enriched our place but not only this! After the eating the rhythm was singing to us to dance in traditional style. Syrtaki made a great success!
The last days were the most entertaining. Now our team was build up, we knew each other better, we had been comfortable with each other and all this resulted in creation of an inviting climate. We gave to ourselves the opportunity to learn, we all demonstrated that we are as strong as we can and we can do just as well, despite the gender non balance. Women who have been in history, posters on the walls, inspired us, created powerful models of action and behavior, confirmed that the achievements are a matter of personal effort, faith and perseverance. There was a variety of activities, from information of the no hate speech movement as well as the creation of a women's manifesto of empowerment. At the end we did not want to leave. A concentrated experience in a week was equal to years of experience. The knowledge obtained were multiple, both in terms of subject matter and in terms of socio-cultural content. The people we met there were an important station for our future career as well as for the development of our social skills.
We cannot think of something negative about the program. Even the small daily difficulties were faced very productively.
Erasmus plus and Youth for Exchange and Understanding we are grateful!