Testimonial – Irina Belecka (Latvia)

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Testimonial – Irina Belecka (Latvia)

Category:Europe Says No to Hate Speech

Youth Exchange in Romania “Europe Says no to Hate Speech” was definitely a highlight of the summer 2019 for 6 latvians. We started with preparation and group meeting in Latvia where we all get to know each other, discussed our expectations of the project and proposed how we want to present our country during the project.

In the day X after long traveling we finally arrived in the Bodo village where the project was held. We meet all the participant and were a little bit overwhelmed because there we were over 40 participants in total. But that wasn’t the problem. We almost immediately remembered all names and felt like a family.

First two days were dedicated to the group building and get to know each other exercise. We also agreed that each country should write daily report and post in Facebook group. Cultural evening were also separated among countries. Because of that, we could everyday learn something new and try new food of each participant-country.

In the next days we get deep in the topic, which was dedicated to learn to recognize hate speech and it’s roots, we also get to know some basic Human Rights, we learned about imigration and refugees, their differences and similarities. For example, we played role game where each participant was divided into islanders who’s home was destroyed and islanders to whom these immigrants came. Some of us were against this immigration process because we thought new-commers are stupid and were very diffrent from us.

We expressed hate speech against them, because in our home it’s was a law that you can express anything with words until there is no physical violence. New-commers didn’t understand our laws and it was hard for them to adapt. In time, it was our goal to learn to live with each other and try to make our home also their home. In this “battles” it was especially hard for kids, because as little humans without big life experience it’s hard for them to understand why people can behave hateful towards other people.

We also had some exercises dedicated to recognize hate speech in different situations. Like, if some politician will express his hate towards some minorities in Twitter, will it be the same as someone will write racial joke in personal email? Does it have the same influence?

We also liked the exercise where everyone was given some stereotypical  roles, for example, “house wife”, “old black person”, “gypsy” and etc. We were asked to express some bad words toward each other, and other person should guess his role. It was very hard to even find some bad words and especially say them to another person. The hardest part was to say them in the person’s face. After we had a discussion about whether it would be easier if didn’t know each other.  Can it be easier in social media?

During this project we were given opportunity to facilitate exercises by ourselves and a lot’s of latvian took it. Turns out, it’s not always so easy to explain other people what they should do, but that was a good lesson for us. We learnt new competences and definately will use then in life.

We also had 2 days when we went to Timisoara and some Romanian Castle and spend the whole day there. It was a verys nice opportunity to see more of Romania, get to know how people live there and see very beautiful nature.

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