#RepresentationMatters – youth exchange in Italy

#RepresentationMatters  –  youth exchange in Italy

From 22 November to 1 December 2021, in Galbiate (Italy) a youth exchange with participants from a number of European countries took place. The project #RepresentationMatters aimed at directing the participants to analysis of the use of different stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination messages on national and European media outlets. The focus was on the media representation of minorities and periphery groups and how to answer to this problem, which even more multi-cultural and transforming itself day by day, within European context.

“Looking at Europe,” the project’s authors share, “we realized how often it is the media presentation of some stereotypes and prejudices for minorities. This invalidates the opportunities of the process of creating a really integrating and just European identity.”
Youths from Shumen were the representatives of Bulgaria. Here it is what Krasimir Krumov, the leader of the group, shares with us:

“Youth exchange within “Erasmus+” in the mountain, above Como Lake, Italy. We are here thanks to Open Space Foundation. When the fog rises up, there can be seen Milano’s skyscrapers, but we are far from the hustle and bustle of the city. The signal of neither of the five mobile operators reaches us. “Us” is around 50 young people and volunteers from different parts of the world, Italy, Portugal, Finland, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Greece, Spain, Chile, the USA, China, Egypt, Moldova, etc. Up to last night, they have not known each other, but today, they are like old friends. Last night, we were talking with our neighbors from Romania and one of the girls said, “I feel like we are from one and the same country.” On a big terrace, we made a map of the world according to the places where we were born. It became colorful. We ordered ourselves in a row from the youngest to the oldest- Bulgaria closed the chain from both of the sides. Starting from me and ending with Anji, who celebrated her 18th birthday two days ago. We are all youths.”

Self-knowledge, leadership, individualism, authoritarianism, team work. Those are the things for which we can read tons of books, but they can also be felt by experiments in the form of games. We pass through them by getting to know ourselves and the team with which we are working, and the coolest part of it all is the discussion and the realization of what has happened. This is what an hour and a half of the project looks like. For an hour and a half we walk the path from the ancient tribes to the contemporary democratic communities.

Task 1: 12 people hold on to an orange rope, which is tied up in a circle with a diameter of around 4-5 meters. All of us are with their eyes tied. The task is that they make a star by moving themselves but without letting go of the rope or moving it from one hand to another. One minute for discussion and ten minutes for execution. Since decades, my job has turned me into an individualist so I crowned myself the leader and suggested a solution without an option for discussion. In the darkness I command you to stay where you are, you to move two steps forward, the person left to you to move two steps on the left. The star is being formed successfully till the fifth ray. We are stuck, there is a coup and the Egyptian Muhammed outvoiced me, in darkness the voice sounds louder. We succeeded. The star is formed. We opened our eyes. The girls in the team talked for the first time exactly then. Victoria from Moldova said that she had a faster solution but no chance to share it. Just to let you know, I am the only one from the Balkans, and Muhammed is from Egypt. Food for thought- a leader is not someone who calls himself such or shouts the loudest, but rather the one who suggests the best solution (if they have the chance to present it).

In the second game, we are calm, balanced, and discussing. In the middle of a frozen lake there is a chest, which is filled with important things for us. We have two ropes, but we are unable to pull the chest in order not to break the ice. We need to lift it in the air and take it together with what is inside of it. This time we are discussing the possible solutions. We choose the one that seems the most acceptable. We succeeded very fast in contrast to the other teams. Without fights and disputes, we gave the women a chance to speak. In the third round, we need to pass a definite distance stepping on a train of chairs without touching the floor with our feet and without jumping or dragging them. We act like one person and greet ourselves for the success. I think that such moments will stay in the youths’ minds. Such things happen in Italy, around Como Lake.

After a few days together, we can summarize something about the youths in a sentence:

“They are good for both parties and work, and we can rely on them. #ErasmusPlus”

Photos from the exchange:  Красимир Крумов’s personal archive.

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The Youth Exchange is funded by the EU’s Erasmus + program.