I am indeed so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus+ Youth Exchange Program “NO Hate Speech” in Aarhus, Denmark from 14th till 23d of May 2022, because it was an amazing experience that enriched me with knowledge, ideas and friendships.
As my first project I didn’t quite know what to expect but it turned out to be one of the best experiences which now I hold dear to my heart. I really had an amazing intellectual and joyful time and I find it very inspiring how a group of youngsters from different cultures managed to function like a family and – in only one week – cultivated values like being hardworking, honest, ambitious, empathic, inclusive and deeply interested in combating the serious threat to the bridges of communication of the society: the hate speech waves.
Working with amazing youngsters and team leaders to define and detect the types, causes and effects of hate speech through various methods and activities made the process very interesting, involving, fun and successful. I learnt a lot from each participant and enjoyed every discussion we had.
A very illuminating part was learning how to combat hate speech using media and theater based tools. It was so powerful learning and using the power of the theater to notice and respond to hate speech through the theatrical methods that gave us new perspectives and a deeper understanding of the topic.
Apart from the informative and educational quality time we had regarding the topic we also had the opportunity to express our creativity and ideas through various energizers, activities and workshops. I am also very happy that I had the chance to do a workshop about Creative Writing – explaining how to write a haiku poem, which I wouldn’t have done if a friend wouldn’t have encourage me to do so.
My point is that the best part of this experience was meeting wonderful and supportive friends from all over Europe who made me realize that it is possible to make the future a brighter place if you are dedicated and work on it as a team, always trying to get out the best from each other.
I really enjoyed the intercultural night, the ideas we shared, the melodies of the different languages that were flying in the air from time to time, the beauty of the Danish nature and culture, the informative and educational meeting with the member of the city council and the cozy atmosphere and the feeling of friendship that we created – which I would like to compare with the Danish word “hygge”.
I could write a novel about this experience and the meaningful and important things we discussed using real and fictive examples, but most importantly sharing personal experiences. I gained a lot of self-confidence, improved my public speaking and communication skills, learnt a lot about the other cultures and the socio-political issues in the other countries, learnt some dance moves and had a lot of fun.
To conclude, during a theatrical activity we discussed the famous quote “Hell is other people” by Sartre pointing out how hate speech emerges from not knowing and not understanding The Other. As the result of succeeding to make our group function as a family I can proudly modify the quote and say “Heaven is also other people” – as long as there is will to get to know The Other and cultivate human values. I will share this inspiring example with everybody I meet. Thank you Volunteers Centre Skopje and “Erasmus+” for this incredible experience.