Social Inclusion and Equality weekend by ESN Finland was powered by ESAA

ESN Finland with funding from Erasmus+ Students and Alumni Association organised a training event called Social Inclusion and Equality Weekend in Helsinki 2.-4.10.2015 for members of ESN and international students in Finland.
ESN, Social Erasmus,

The main goal of the project was to provide the participants skills, knowledge and tools to leave a mark in their local communities and learn how to organise high quality events that would bring social impact and inclusion for minority groups. Many interactive and educational activities were organised during the weekend to ensure the knowledge sharing and learning process. Allianssi, the National Youth Council of Finland participated the project by offering a Human Library training workshop. Other partners and projects represented were Nenäpäivä (Red Nose Day) by the Finnish Red Cross foundation and Erasmus in Schools project by CIMO and European Movement in Finland in cooperation with ESN Finland. These organisations brought an added value to the event as they provided professional training on the topics of social inclusion, anti-discrimination, education of the younger generations to think in an international-minded way, cultural exchange and understanding.

The event started on Friday morning with a visit to a local school: The English School (eschool.edu.hel.fi). During the school visit the participants took part to regular middle school and high school classes during which they discussed with the pupils about stereotypes, education and schooling systems in different countries. Rest of Friday’s program consisted of presentations of some of the ESN Finland ry’s partners and SocialErasmus and ExchangeAbility, two significant projects of ESN AISBL. The afternoon was dedicated to briefing the participants about the possibility to arrange various events in their local communities, with a presentation by the Allianssi representative Satu Valtere.

On Saturday, the second day of the event, the participants from different ESN sections presented their own activities and future plans for SocialErasmus, ExchangeAbility and activities that are aimed to create social impact and inclusion in their local communities. After discussing the different ideas for these projects the participants started creating action plans for how they will implement these projects in their own local communities. Throughout the entire weekend the same action plans were used to create promotional plans and to practice writing a grant application.

The Human Library training workshop was also held on Saturday. It brought up a fruitful discussion on stereotypes and how to act in a controversial situation. After the training, Stefano de Luca, the project coordinator of the Erasmus in School project, also held an interesting small session that tackled the discussion on how to improve the projects on a national and local level.

During the last day of the event, on Sunday, the participants had a chance to try out several activities from the perspective of people with disabilities. For example, they were blindfolded and accompanied for a tour of a building with a helping cane; they had a workshop where one person could not move, one was blindfolded, another one could not hear and a last one could not speak and together they had to build a paper castle. These exercises helped them emerge in the role of people with specific kinds of disability to better understand how the communication works and how tasks that we take for granted might become actually harder to achieve. They were taught how to make sure that people with disabilities will be able to take part in their activities.

As part of the social program a Dinner in the dark was organised also to raise awareness of people with visual disabilities. The participants experienced eating and talking together while being blindfolded. The Social Inclusion and Equality Weekend was presented in an international meeting of ESN; SocialErasmus Coordinators Meeting in Zagreb on 11.10. and it will be presented in a national meeting of ESN Finland on 30.10.-1.11. The project received a lot of visibility and positive feedback from rest of the ESN network.

The results of the project will be seen both in short term and long term. Right after the event the participants are expected to share their knowledge in their local ESN sections and local communities. On longer term the results should be shown as activities organised in local communities and other ESN sections abroad. Total 31 participants including three international guests took part in the weekend. In addition to these 31 participants five exchange students participated the school visit. All of the participants left with high motivation and inspiration back to their own local communities.

The action plans created during the weekend will be taken into use in local sections. The National project coordinators of ESN Finland ry will follow the work of local coordinators and sections to offer support if needed and also to make sure that the plans will be executed.

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