START THE CHANGE – EMBRACING DIFFERENCES THROUGH INTERCULTURAL EDUCATION AND VOLUNTEERING

The Start the Change project was implemented by Forum for Freedom in Education, the hosting organisation of the PLA, between 2016 and 2018 as part of transnational initiative. It aimed at developing and nurturing values and capacities of both students and teachers, particularly psychological thriving, emotional development and self-regulation, civic competences, connectedness, positive attitudes towards differences as well as multi-perspective and deeper understanding of the world. Special contents and activities were therefore developed, aimed at creating cooperation opportunities between various groups (disadvantaged, majority, minority, community), and enriching this contact with innovative ideas for volunteering, mutual aid, understanding, and creativity.

SIRIUS’ delegation had the opportunity to analyse and reflect on the outcomes of the initiative such as the established cooperation between 40 schools and local CSOs in implementing intercultural and peacebuilding local projects reaching out to over 2000 young people. It was a large-scale coordinated action that motivated children and young people to be active, critical and brave in stating their opinion and fighting for what they believe in. It motivated their teachers and mentors to start up projects on their own aimed at raising awareness on the concept of “different” and “others” and engaging young people in socially aware and peace-building actions.

The PLA visiting team had the possibility to specifically focus on the change the project brought within the Grammar School Bernardin Frankopan (in Ogulin, 106 km out of Zagreb). The school faced several challenges related to students’ academic success, the acceptance of the “other” from peers, compliants of injustice because of discrimination on the grounds of gender, nationality, appearance and socioeconomic background. The lack of extracurricular activities emphasised the challenges on the acceptance of diversity.

Findings