Eight countries, seventeen youth workers participants and three volunteers all led by two local facilitators, using theatre as a tool to meet deeper the strangers they just met, standing in front of their eyes. Aim of the week: have a real and human encounter, enjoy non-formal education activities to learn more about human rights, inclusion, and awareness of nowadays issues, such as migration and discrimination of any kind, linked to gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity,… These are just the preconditions to start the DAFSI – Drama Activity for Social Inclusion – week.
Sometimes in our society, it may seem unreal to have the opportunity and the space to speak about these topics avoiding the basic and common front lesson: an expert talking and the concentrated pupils listening and sitting at their places. However, today, FOCO association and their staff were happy to welcome this cosmopolitan group for the first of six days of activities. The aim is clearly to learn as much as possible, but the way these young people are going to grow their knowledge has nothing in common with the ordinary school: from the early morning, they have been actively involved in non-formal education sessions, focusing on simple theatre exercises to first know each other. And first thing to know from each other are their names, where they are from, and how old are they, but no one had a simple presentation. With creative games, they had to discover all this information by engaging themselves and starting from the very first moment to overcome shyness and hesitations. Even if they have never seen it before, they immediately began to pass beyond cultural and language walls that sometimes can stop them from interacting and this has been for sure the main point of the day. Speaking in English to be understood by everyone, no matter your level, each participant did their effort to be inclusive, open to the unknown and tried to communicate and share a bit their story, his interests, their culture. At lunchtime, all sitting at the same table, in front of good local food, the warm and openminded attitude they all had was already detectable. Theatre has been the glue to connect all these strangers and thanks to that, even though they’ve just arrived in A Guarda, they can recognize friendlier faces.
In the afternoon, every participant had some space to introduce the association for which she, he, they are working and explaining a bit the main point of their goals. In the end it was quite evident that everybody is interested in the same cause: getting their local society more aware and including social issues and discrimination based on belonging to a minority. No matter where they came from, it has just been so promising seeing different people living such different lives struggling for the same purpose, trying to bring their contribution, helping culture and putting their effort for a more equal future.
At the end of the day, still energetic (we’ll see how it goes the last night!) a Trivia game was proposed, to teach in a funny way something about their culture. Europe might seem really similar from the outside, but today we had a reminder of how different each country is!
The first day has passed, but the enthusiasm seems to be a lot, there’s the willing to connect, learn from others – not only from the facilitators – and create a wider net, a supporting community, hoping that this experience will enrich everyone and that no one will come back home the same as when taking the plane to arrive here.