International Seminar Sex and Gender in Berlin 2015

- It was very interesting, rich and and atmosphere was amazing.

- The leaders: Tanja, from SCI Germany, and Valerie, from Austria but who lives in Torino, Italy, were amazing leaders. They were friendly, smiley, funny, smart and interesting, and were our friends as well as our leaders. We didn't feel pressured in any way; we all just worked together and everybody was considered and respected equally. Tanja and Valerie worked perfectly together and prepared the workshops and activities very well. They also took into account what we wanted to do or suggested.

- The group: We had a very nice cohesion. We all got to know each other right from the beginning and a very comfortable and trusting atmosphere installed itself. We could talk about everything; even subjects that might be taboo in other settings. I think we all were brought close together by the interest and care we all had in common about the subject. And each person had a personal little something to bring to the group. For example, some people were engaged in feminist groups; they were activists who could give us ideas of projects to come. Everybody could learn something from one another.

- The workshops: We talked about our own ideas about and perception of the subjects of machism, feminism, gender violence, homophobia, intersectionality.... The first workshops were about defining different key concepts. They were made in a way that was constructive and creative; not too academically at all, so that everybody feld implied, could participate actively and no one got bored. There were also enough breaks where we could dirnk coffee and eat fruits or biscuits, so that we could freshen our minds a little bit before pursuing the activites. The next workshops were about ideas of how to change things, and we also presented how things were in our own country by preparing a poster and a little presentation: how does it look in our country concerning gay rights? Women issues? Equality? Gender violence? Laws for sexual offences? Etc.

- The visits: We visited various organizations in Berlin who worked in the studied themes, for example Mancheck, an organization who also has an SCI workcamp and who does Sexual Transmitted Diseases Prevention amongst men who have sex with men, or Wildwasser, a place where young girls and women who have been through sexual abuse can talk and be counselled, and some more. Sometimes, we chose one out ot two possible project visits, and separated into smaller groups. Then, we could report our impressions and tell the others about what we had seen and learned. Tanja and Valerie always gave us the oportunity to give feedback and improvement proposals.

- The free and leisure time: We had one afternoon free to wander about Berlin. Some of us chose to use it to visit some more projects/ associations, others chilled or walked around... One evening, we watched a movie which was linked to the themes we were working on. And the last evening, there was a goodbye-party next to our sleeping place, with a concert. It was very nice and we met some more people. All in all, I think we learned a lot, and it was very enrichening to meet different people from various places, backgrounds and life experience. We could share, listen to each other and be there for each other, and I think we created a nice network, which keeps working together in future projects about the subjects of Gender and sexuality discrimination. We created two groups on facebook, and a common working group within SCI called Gender Blenders. Some of us created smaller Gender Blenders entities, for example there are 4 or 5 people who plan to travel with a caravan in different places in Europe and do activist interventions in the cities.

Article written by Alexia Marcou