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Jun 28 2013

2013.06 Changing Europe-9

2013.06 Training Course "Changing Europe: migration – challenge or opportunity?"

Seminar “Changing Europe: migration – opportunity or challenge?” brought together 27 youth leaders and youth workers across Europe (Estonia, Greece, France, Spain, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary) to North-East Estonia

Name: Changing Europe: migration – challenge or opportunity? Duration: 28 June – 07 July 2013  Location: Ida-Virumaa, Estonia
Organizers: Activists on Move  Supporters: Youth in Action Program (Action 4.3)  
Romanian participants: Aida Mola (F); Raul Dragan (M); Diana Diaconu (F)

to discuss the topics of migration and mobility in Europe and its consequences to youth and youth work. According to International Organization for Migration (IOM) there are currently 56 million migrants in Europe and this number is increasing. There are different triggers and causes, push and pull factors for migration which affects everyday life of all Europeans. There is forced migration and voluntary migration, different reasons and consequences of migration which have lead to new migration routes. Migration is often seen as opportunity, promoted and supported by different government and European Union programmes, but it is also seen as a problem, often connected with raising xenophobia and discrimination against immigrants. All Europe is affected by migration, and especially young people, who are one of the most mobile groups and the ones who determine how the future Europe will look like. For this it’s important that people working with young people would be aware of the causes, opportunities and consequences of migration and could support both – young emigrants and immigrants by creating opportunities and providing support these young people need.
In the end of seminar participants are aware of different migration schemes in Europe and know how to deal with challenges resulting from migration and how to use opportunities created by migration in their work with young people. They are ready to develop projects connected to migration and mobility, engage young migrants in their activities and foster mobility among youth. They can also help to change the general image of migration in society and promote tolerance and positive attitude towards immigrants in society.
For more information please check the official blog of the training course: http://migrationestonia.blogspot.ro/

During the period between 28 June and 7 July we participated in an international seminar (action 4.3) which took place in Estonia. Named “Changing Europe- migration: challenge or opportunity?”, the project brought together 27 youth leaders and youth workers across Europe (Estonia, Greece, Spain, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary.
Ida-Virumaa is the name of the city where the seminar was held and it is situated in northeastern Estonia where only 19% of the population consists of Estonians, the rest are Russians. Also, the place is well-known for the high rate of emigration, beautiful landscapes, large areas of forests and for being a densely populated bear habitat.
The aims and objectives of the seminar were as follows: debates on migration and mobility in Europe along with analysis on their consequences upon youth and youth work. In agreement with the aims and objectives, the project organizers challenged the participants to reflect upon different dimensions of migration and mobility, provided them with new insights on topic, ensured that the trainees would get familiar with the theme’s terminology and topics as latest trends in migration and its global effects were tackled in order to make the seminar much more interesting.
As other activities and methods used during the project, I can list here the exchange of experience and good practices among participants, techniques which prepared the trainees before approaching a complex topic such migration’s one, debates on migration’s challenges and opportunities, processes of acquiring new competences in order to better tackle the migration phenomenon and so to combat its negative effects, analysis of European policies in connection with migration and personal stories about local realities coming from each participant’s origin country. This project had also a great positive impact on the participants’ professional and social network, this being one major objective through which the organizers wanted the trainees to build new European partnerships that could generate various actions of promoting the mobility and supporting the young immigrants.
The way that the facilitators organized the seminar consisted of a dynamic structure which for me has represented an innovation. The experience exchange and knowledge and competences acquirement were done through participants interactivity, there being no high specialized migration trainers, the organizers role was besides the administrative processes to only coordinate the migrations topics, to raise new debates, to provide us with official data and of course to make sure we are well engaged in the group and everything goes as planned. Though, in order to be clear I have to add that the staff does have experience in migration field since they are experienced members in Estonian “Activists on Move” NGO. So the lack of experts in migration domain during the seminar wasn’t a weakness, but part of the project idea.  Thus, after the first days of the seminar it got clear that the participants weren’t some just uninformed and in the same time interested on migration people, but most of them know quite much about it and I was happy to be among very competent colleagues with whom to exchange knowledge and experience.
In this way, each person contributed to the enrichment of the seminar topic and the group was our “expert trainer" throughout the project. Always present during the whole program were the energizers which were also approaching migration theme. Then the role play games proved to be very important and interesting for an innovative approach of a global interest theme such migration, with all its complex characteristics. Here are to be added also the teamwork sessions, social evenings, the two intercultural nights in which we had the chance to promote and present our home countries and the organizations that we represent and of course the parties which were ending late in the night. As it has come to parties, I have to say that we were always confronting with strange chronological phenomena, especially for most of us who never had been in Estonia before. This is because summer night in Estonia lasts for about 2-3 hours and even then one cannot be sure it is totally night, but more twilight.
The Estonian experience hadn’t been the same if the program would have been deprived of the tours from Ida-Virumaa region. Thus, we visited Narva - a former Soviet city – which is also a border city, having Russia as country neighbor; and the landscape, abandoned infrastructure, while Russian language could be heard everywhere, and the description made by our organizers, all of these increasingly brought me closer to the feeling that I was visiting Russia. However, it must not be understood that the place was devoid of interest. No way. We visited there an old castle dating back more than six centuries, an Orthodox monastery which was obviously very similar to those from Romania, but the exterior walls which are specific to Russian ones.  Then we walked the city streets for a while, observing people and wedding customs since many weddings were taking place that day, we had a meeting with a representative clerk from the immigrants and borders related department under the police station of the city of Narva. Here we had the opportunity to learn more about the situation of emigrants and immigrants from Ida-Virumaa region, including police procedures in case of illegal border crossing, deportation, relationship with the Russian, and other less common situations that the staff had to deal with before.
As other activities, we had a visit and dinner at an Estonian manor with all its dependencies, we descended in a former shell-oil mine which is nowadays a museum, we walked to a waterfall in a rocky wall on the Baltic Sea, we swam in sea and at the end of the project we booked at a hostel with some of the participants in order to visit Tallinn. I must say Tallinn is a very beautiful capital, especially because the center is a medieval one where you can see what the former medieval fortress was, according to locals the place is well preserved nowadays as it was several centuries ago.
I can say that I am quite proud of the activities in which I was involved during the seminar.  I’ve learned new things not only about the subject of the seminar, but also about the people there, about their culture, about Estonia in general and I was able to get in a place not very popular on the list of Romanians and even other Europeans that plan to go abroad for visit or vacation. So my experience is valuable and in order to get also a practical output out of it I have to focus on the follow-up plans.
Thank you Activists on Move and DGT!