Whontha Nara- going and being together

- a project to promote social and professional integration of refugees-Responsible for the implementation: Karla Kästner and Golde Ebdi -
ESAA, Events,

In the West African language Susu “Whontha Nara” means going and being together and is a common greeting and describes a special way of doing things together. In the sense of this proverb we were able to realize two series of events- one to promote professional integration the other one focussing on social integration and mutual exchange- leading to the final public Whontha Nara event as an occasion to present what has been done so far and to create a space to get to know each other.

Series of events Professional Qualification

Every Thursday afternoon, we - a group of participants with refugee background and a group of European interns - met in the computer lab of our cooperation partner, the intercultural centre “Centro Zonarelli”, to deal with the topic of labour market integration in Europe. The objectives of the seven sessions were that the participants with refugee background become aware of their own skills and competences and of how they can utilize their competences on the European labour market, as well as preparing a well-elaborated CV.

Competence analysis and vocational training have been implemented through personal encounters between the participants from non-European countries and the European interns. For this purpose, we used a prestructured guideline which included questions about personal interests, strengths and weaknesses. Initially, for some participants it seemed difficult and not very obvious to identify own strengths and weaknesses. But under discussion with the European interns and by means of an online job orientation test with more implicit questions, everyone could discover his/her talents or competences. The result of the individual encounters are detailed personal profiles of each participant. In this context, the joint activities of the Exchange Forum contributed to improve the self-awareness of the participants as it provided a space to discover themselves - maybe as well to discover completely new sides of their characters or latent potentials. The part of CV writing consisted of one introductory group lesson and two individual lessons.

Series of events Exchange forum

Have you ever watched the news without feeling overwhelmed by a multitude of information about the dangerousness of migrants and about how your life will be under constant threat from now on? Everyday, we hear news about people, totally strangers to us, which only aim seems to disrupt our existence with delinquency. To know them becomes our last desire, while fear takes control over us. But is this the reality? Are they really “delinquents” or “people like us, with whom we can establish a continuous exchange of opinions or ideas and from whom we can learn a lot as well as they can learn from us”? This was one of the main purposes we set during the Forum for Exchange.

At the end we discovered the positive opinions and reactions of the participants, thanks to the final video we made during the sessions with some interviews. That video showed us how the Forum for Exchange can have a great impact for the social inclusion and the cultural sharing and growth of migrants if well-conducted.

Final public Whontha Nara event

The 2nd of December from 6 to 12 pm took place the final event Whontha Nara, bringing together the results of the foregoing series events and aiming at promoting social and professional integration of the refugee participants being part of the whole bunch of activities. The main objective of the evening was to create a space for exchange and lived diversity and with that to actively involve the guests of the events, thus citizens of Bologna, friends of the participants and interns and whoever decided to join the evening. The whole event was organized by the participants with refugee background and the European interns, thus the Whontha Nara team. In the intention to benefit from skills the team members already offer and to build up new ones, different working groups were formed for the preparation always composed of participants with refugee background and European interns working together as a team and putting into practice the empowerment approach of Whontha Nara. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTiGfph2Mn4

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Whontha Nara was and is a door-opener to new contacts, exchange and common activities -all needed to make integration possible and to be able to see the enormous potential migrants are for our societies.

Thanks to the ESAA funding we were able to offer an activity such as the exchange forum which we hope to be able to offer as well in the future for the very positive experience it was. All the activities had a strong empowering aspect and lead to an increased self-confidence and increased awareness of the own value for the host society. The participation in the three activities allowed the development and/ or strengthening of new skills, both soft and hard skills and triggered new collaborations that can lead to further opportunities. Whontha Nara suggests an innovative way of how to promote social and professional integration of refugees by assigning the leading part to them and we hope for more and more initiatives following this approach.

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