So Keres, Europa? – The Importance of Youth Activism for Roma Rights
11-20th of July 2015, Cluj Napoca (Romania)
by Mario Koszegi & Julianne Lindner
This article will firstly present our expectations towards the event, secondly describe the experiences during the project and finally state the importance & relevance of the project. It will demonstrate that with high motivations and being together, we can form a basis for youth activism and thereby tackle Roma discrimination.
This part will start off with the expectations to create an introduction to the project and to us, the writers. Expectations are also important to be mentioned as to receive an insight into why participants perceive the event to be important.
To understand the importance of the project, the following paragraphs will describe our experiences of the event to give an insight into and an overview of the main activities.
The first days of the project were centred around getting to know each other through diverse activities, and getting familiar with the topic of youth activism. Being a group of 300 youngsters, this created for us difficulties to meet other participants and to share our experiences and expectations as at first many mainly spend time within their national groups. The reflection groups (created by the organisation to reflect the project and its activities in smaller groups) dissolved the national groups and created the chance to get to know new faces, breaking the cultural boundaries. The project included lots of musical performances, which created immediately a good start of the project. Music also broke language barriers by involving everyone. These first days strengthened the relations among the participants, forming the basis for youth activism through cooperation.
The workshop also provided us the opportunity to join other workshops, e.g. the workshop on the Roma Holocaust or the workshop on forced evictions. Our expectations to learn more about the Roma history in particular was therefore met. This participation in other workshops together with information from books, reliable internet sources, documentaries and interviews formed the basis of the articles we wrote for the Go Free Magazine (the published magazine can be found viahttp://issuu.com/gofreestudent/docs/go_free_sokereseuropa_special_editi/1?e=1575337/14253017).
To end the project So Keres, Europa? a festival was organised in a local park. During the festival, participants showed the outcomes of their workshops. The festival was a great ending to 7 days of new knowledge, new friendships and lots of fun. Our expectations of knowing more about the Roma culture and history, to meet the other participants and to have a good atmosphere were totally met. Only minor comments were related to the food, accommodation and at times the language barrier. The latter one already decreased during the project.
Importance and Relevance
The event showed us, as participants, new ways to come together and new ways to express youth activism via e.g. citizen journalism, silent theatre, exhibitions.It also demonstrated the importance to stand up for Roma rights, Roma and Non-Roma together, to make a change. This combination makes the participants of the event prepared to tackle the discrimination on local level. We hope that the experiences participants gained will stimulate youth activism through the whole of Europe, and that it may be a basis for new projects. We at least went home being optimistic about the future of the Roma, because we know that being together we are more! We also hope that this article will stimulate you, our reader, to join our activism for Roma rights.