Intercultural Seminar – An experience across countries, cultures and personalities.

The week between 15th to 22nd November 2015, we had an intercultural seminar on youth and religion, titled, “God with us?” the participants of this seminar were young youth leaders representing different organisations, that work among young people, from Italy, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Macedonia, Hungary, Germany and India.DSCF6558

The seminar commenced on Monday, the 15th, with an intervention about the sociology of religion, religious identities and how it was in our countries. The session was led by Prof. Matteo Bortolini. We all spoke about our personal stand on religion and what it meant to us on a personal level. The dialogue spread into many other topics like religion and terrorism, the religious identity of an individual in a state or a country which has a different main religion. The session was intense and enriching in such a way that at the end of it, we all had more questions than answers, as compared to the beginning.

On Tuesday, in the morning, we had a brainstorming session on the topic, “Youth Participation” and “Religious Identity.” We were divided into 4 groups and there were 4 posters with one word/topic written on each. The topics were “YOUTH”, “IDENTITY’, “RELIGION” and DSCF6563“PARTICIPATION.” Each group got one poster, to brainstorm and write
words related to the topic. After a few minutes, we had to change posters and this process carried on till all the groups got to brain storm on all the 4 topics and were back to their initial poster. We were then asked to go through all the words written on our poster and come up with our own definition of the topic/ word written on the poster. As a continuation of the brainstorming session the four groups were thenregrouped into two depending on the topic. “Religion” and “identity” became one group to form “religious identity” and “youth” and “participation” became one group to form “youth participation.” These two groups then had to discuss and come up with 5 main principles of the two main topics.DSCF6567

The session after lunch was led by Federico Bertin and was based on the “7 rules of co-operation.” The topic was explained and discussed though a
series of games and activities. This afternoon was a very good example of informal learning because we learnt something very essential for our lives, through games!

The dinner on Tuesday was a very multicultural affair! All of us cooked typical dishes representing our countries, we had a very colourful, delicious spread of food from all over the world. There was Italian Pasta alla Carbonara, Macedonian Musaka,
UkranianDraniky, Georgian Khachapuri, ZacuscaRomaneasca from Romania, Hungarian DSC_1047Túrórudi, German Kartoffelsalat, Indian Chapathi
and Chicken Curry. It was probably the best spread ever and the night was made even more beautiful with Romeos’s wine, Hungary’s Palinca and Aron’s Music!

On Wednesday, in the morning we had a session of “Role-Play.” We were divided into two groups of 7 people each. Each group was given a situation, the same situation, and each person was given a character to play. Both the groups took turns to react the role- play. We had to play out the topic through discussions by portraying the roles given to us. This was a bit tough for us, because we were given a sensitive situation, and some of us had to play the roles of certain characters whose ideologies were opposite ours. This activity gave us the platform to learn to think in the shoes of another person and was a very challenging task.DSCF6603

The afternoon session was another activity based session on youth
, as usual we were divided into groups, and each group was given a set of motivations, tools and obstacles. When Valeria gave us an activity we had to present a motivation to take part in the activity, face an obstacle and choose a tool with which we can overcome the obstacle. This activity made us think about how we can participate in any activity, by overcoming obstacles through our motivation and experience.

Thursday consisted of a trip to Torino, a visit to the “Il Passo” social point, a youth centre that just opened one month ago, and that will be a center for many activities involving youngsters (and not only) of the neighbourhood, which main characteristic is to be very multicultural and interreligious. This centre  will be mainly a meeting point for a variety of people that here could build up an inclusive community. The afternoon was free day to go around the city and have a good time together. It was a very beautiful day, to visit a new place with new acquaintances and learn new things.

DSCF6612Friday was one of the best days in the whole training, in the morning we
went to the Museo Valdese and learnt about the history of the waldensian church, we were all moved, on hearing the story and struggle of the waldensian people. The afternoon session was conducted by Deborah Boaglio, who works with Asylum Seekers. The activities she conducted, though very entertaining, helped us realise the trouble that the migrants face in their day to day lives.

On Saturday, we were again divided into two groups, and were asked to come up with two new projects, one group chose to do a social project titled “entrepreneurship as a skill” and the other group chose to do a Project title “P.A.L.IN.C.A.” this session continued on Sunday where we DSC_1062had a mock presentation in front of a mock European commission.






Instead of going to church on Sunday, we had a small praise and worship session, amongst ourselves, led by Aron. Though short, the whole session was peaceful and nice. This was our last day in the Seminar, so it was a bittersweet experience. The whole week saw us becoming friends, across countries, cultures and personalities. The whole experience was beautiful and full of knowledge and it made us think, discover and rediscover ourselves.

Minolin Judith, India


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