The "Wall of Voices" or "τΗχος" was created with an intention to offer young adults a space for reflection on social issues in the European and local society. Here you will discover various essays, galleries, videos and content projects created by our volunteers.
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Madjida Rahmani, a volunteer of the European Solidarity Corps, created during her stay various contents related to immigration and the refugee community. In addition, she created the present document where she collects everyday words and phrases in Persian that can be of help when communicating with people coming from Afghanistan.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, immigration is “the process of coming to live permanently in a different country from the one you were born in''. Immigration has become one of the most important phenomena for the past decades and most particularly in western countries. For example, Greece have seen this event increasing over the recently as it became the gateway to the Schengen area especially by migrants from the middle east and Asia. The reasons leading to immigration are wide and diverse and this phenomenon has always existed throughout the ages and across the world. However, such experience implies changes in psychological, sociological and mental health aspects that often are dismissed even though they are one of the secular pillars affected when someone migrates, even for a shorter period of time. These impacts can have real consequences on the core of one’s identity and have a huge importance on the long term mental health stability of a person.
Here, we will explore some facets, in particular the sociological aspect, which is the key to understand the way migrants adapt to their new country. That may also help to grasp the behavior and feelings immigrants can have. We will see how it could lead to acculturation or assimilation or to a failure of adapting to the new culture.
It’s necessary to keep in mind that these phenomena can’t strictly be applied for every migrant, everyone has his own experience of expatriation and the steps and duration of each stage can differ from one to another person.
First, we will see migration from a historical point of view, especially in Greece, and the reason why immigration can occur, then we will explore the different stages of adaptation in a new country as well as some testimonies to illustrate these stages.
Finally, we will see migration from an external point of view and the conflicts or cohesion that can happen, to finally conclude.
Why are there so many cultural similarities between Greece and Turkey? The most important reason is the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Before the population exchange, greeks and turks were living together that's why, the cultures have so many similarities. And also on the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey (Greek: Ἡ Ἀνταλλαγή, Turkish: Mübadele) stemmed from the "Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations" signed at Lausanne, Switzerland, on 30 January 1923, by the governments of Greece and Turkey. It involved at least 1.6 million people (1,221,489 Greek Orthodox from Asia Minor, Eastern Thrace, the Pontic Alps and the Caucasus, and 355,000–400,000 Muslims from Greece), Of course the population exchange affected both cultures.
After receiving hundreds of thousands of migrants from the countries of the former Soviet block from 1988, then another wave of immigration after the opening of borders with Albania in 1992.
These immigration flows have played an essential role in the evolution of the country’s population as well as in its development. Greece has been facing another influx of immigrants since 2008, but this time from Africa and the war zones in the Middle East; a phenomenon that exploded in 2015.
Learn about the motives, odysseys, dreams and experiences of some of the people who have come to Europe seeking refuge.
During her stay at the organisation Youth Center of Epirus, Lisa created a beautiful reportage of photos where she involved unaccompanied asylum seeker minors of the accommodation facility Agios Athanasios.
With this photography project, she addressed the situation in Greece related to immigration and she shows the important role of the volunteers and the workers in this facility and other facilities similar to this.
Download the full content below.
Every day of the week, except weekends, volunteers go to the village of Asparggeloi where 40 young asylum seekers live in a facility for unaccompanied minors in the region of Epirus.
The accommodation facility, thanks to the numerous workers, accompanies these young asylum seekers in all aspects by providing them accommodation, food, hygiene, medical care, translation service, psycho-social support service, legal support, financial assistance, access to education with schooling including learning English and Greek and also access to non-formal educational activities. Regarding this last aspect, the volunteers are present and try to bring something to the young people of the center. We can say that they are an important help throughout the week. Thanks to their different backgrounds, cultures, skills and personalities, they can bring new diverse ideas for non-formal education activities. These activities can be sports, outdoor activities, arts and crafts, learning English, board games and more. For example: football, dodgeball, board games (cards, dominoes...), DIY bracelets, origami, paper lanterns, magic tricks, science experiments, memory games, English language games, movies, etc. After each activity, a review is done to find out how to improve the activity for next time.
The intervention of volunteers is therefore beneficial in terms of proposing activities. Indeed, the young people can have a lighter and different contact with the volunteers because they are there for a moment of happiness and carefreeness and do not manage all the difficult aspects, unlike the workers who have to educate the young people and help them with the difficulties they encounter. In the same way, the volunteers are often quite young and are generally in their twenties, which is similar to the age of young people up to the age of 17, so the volunteers are a bit like peers.
Moreover, the fact that young people come from different backgrounds, with different cultures and languages such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Somalia and others, and even volunteers from outside Greece, who do not speak Greek and have a good command of English, can be comforting for young people who are not alone in the unknown and cannot communicate well. Obviously the situation of volunteers and adolescents is far from being the same.
The frequent exposure to new volunteers, as the volunteering period can be from 1 months to 6 months, can stimulate the curiosity of the young people and expose them to new people who are there to meet them if they wish. Thus the young people come out of their cocoon more when they are at the center, they remain less closed in on themselves, among themselves, this pushes them to socialise with unknown people who are totally different from them, with another culture, another language, as we said earlier.
The volunteers are therefore there to bring a moment of lightness and good humor in the middle of their daily lives, which can sometimes be complicated, even though they are very well supervised by the workers to help them move towards a stable adult life as easily and calmly as possible.
Every day they can do a playful activity, which stimulates their mind, their curiosity and their creativity, which is part of non-formal education. This type of education is designed through activities related to leisure time in part. The needs and specificities of each child, such as their age or language barrier, are taken into account at the Youth Center of Epirus. It has a very good pedagogical effectiveness, allowing young people to open up to the world outside the formal educational curriculum. Young people can improve their skills and competences in different areas. Its interest is the opening towards others, with a voluntary participation without fear of evaluation, it is not a race. The well-being and personal development of the young person are at the center of the considerations with, above all, the constant valorisation of the young person. They are encouraged to participate, to dare, to try. Benevolence is the watchword in non-formal education, particularly in the relationship between the young people themselves.
Thus, with the help of volunteers, young people can take part in daily educational activities that contribute to their equilibrium through improved behaviour and a positive attitude. Indeed, the positive leads to the positive.
After the start of diverse conflicts in Middle East countries in 2011 and the unstable economy in the Least Develop Countries (LDCs), thousands of people had to migrate to Europe because of military power and the desire of having a better future. For this reason, a lot of problems appeared due to the interaction between different cultures. One of these problems is Language.
Download the full article to discover more.
Those fleeing are mostly women and children, as all Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are being told to stay and fight - in some cases separated from their families.
The unfolding crisis has torn families apart as they depart, although it has also reunited others across borders. Powerful pictures show fathers saying goodbye to their partners and children while others show people reunited with loved ones in neighbouring Poland and Hungary.
The simple fact of just following the book helped me a lot to widen my horizons on the possibilities to change my environment and change who and what influences us in day-today in our choices and the ways to react to specific situations. This, in particular, can be interesting if you are an asylum seeker and you just arrive in a new foreign country, consequently, you have to create by yourself a new friend’s network, people that you can rely on or, people to spend your time with.
Before doing a summary of this book with my experience, I would like to invite you to test with conviction all that you will read. Without conviction, the following principles are not effective.
Refugees’ involvement in artistic activity – music, theatre, poetry, painting, crafting – often plays a powerful positive role in their ability to survive physically and even emotionally and spiritually. Along with that, many artistic activities require little more than time and inspiration and no previous knowledge.
However, the arts are a desirable vehicle for promoting humanitarian goals essential for humans to flourish. Artistic and cultural expression is even a right protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Artistic activity may
1. help you use your time creatively and productively, which many refugees have in abundance, focusing energy and talent toward meaningful ends. Moreover, it can keep you engaged in the cycles of time from which you can be easily disconnected in camp life.
2. Help you cope with the psychological and emotional stresses. Although artistic activity cannot substitute for psychiatric therapy, it provides a means to express emotions, and may help confront difficult memories.
3. help you reinforce your sense of power and agency, especially if you lead it yourselves Besides, the element of play that the arts engage, can offer the possibility of joy even within the context of camp life (Habibi and Sports, an NGO in Katsikas Ioannina, empowers refugees and asylum seekers as professionals and teachers in many activities ).
4. help connect you with your spiritual community. Rituals include artistic components that can help connect you to the religious tradition and the religious community you may have left behind.
5. help preserve your traditional culture while away from your native land, as well as pass on your cultural heritage to children, who may have never seen or no longer remember their homeland.
6. help you create a sense of community with other refugees, as the arts can provide opportunities to share your culture with others and learn from theirs. Moreover, Stories, songs, dances, visual arts and other means can be used to bring up sensitive issues and open them up for public consideration and discussion.
7. help create a relation between refugee and host communities, which are complex and often tense. Personal and cultural interactions may play a role in engendering mutual respect, challenging stereotypes held by both sides, and fostering cooperative ventures.
8. help children learn more effectively. Educational activities can be enhanced with participatory practices, artistic and creative learning techniques (use of songs, pictures and other artistic devices) to engage them as active agents in their own (fun) learning process. Moreover, arts are therapeutic tools to face learning challenges caused by forced migration.
9. present opportunities for adult education and social development. Due to the low literacy levels in refugee communities, non-text-based means of communicating information may be more effective. Songs, poems and visual images remain in the memory and hence they are most likely to affect their behaviour.
10. help you prepare for life beyond the camp. The learnt skills (e.g. self-discipline, creativity and patience) may serve you well while building a new life.
My name is Theo, I’m a European Solidarity Corps volunteer at the Youth Center of Epirus. In the context of my volunteer experience I had to work with a lot of refugee people. My experience and research made me realize that few people knows about the situation of LGBT people in other countries. The number of LGBT who are refugees and decides to leave their country increases every year, as persecution and violence towards them gets more and more important.
This guide is destined to anyone working with refugees and wants to improve their knowledge on the situation of LGBT refugee people, in their country of origin, but also about the discriminations they may face as refugees in European countries.
I hope this guide finds you well and that you will learn at least one thing. Enjoy!
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