SCI knowledge transfer - Volunteering with Asylum seekers

“When we establish human connections within the context of shared experience we create community wherever we go.”  - G. Greenlee


If you look at the websites of some European SCI branches you could find out several high quality projects in the field of migration. This work has become more and more important during the last few years and naturally the involved activists needed a platform to exchange their experiences and to develop them further in order to improve knowledge transfer and inspire the others.

 

What are the challenges in our work- Problem tree.

This need has been recognized during several International meetings and finally addressed by SCI Switzerland, who organized the project “Working with Refugees in SCI”.  The project aim is to provide space for sharing experiences, concepts and best practices through a knowledge transfer seminar and the design of an online tool kit. Through this project other SCI branches could also profit from the existing experiences and use them to (further) develop their own projects.

As the first step of the project, this seminar took place between 18th and 22nd June 2015 in Baden, Switzerland and gathered 25 participants from SCI branches in Switzerland, Bulgaria, Catalonia, Italy, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Austria and Finland, involved in various projects with refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants. The group had 4 days to organize the knowledge transfer and start drafting the tool-kit. The program was intense but so interesting that you could find the group discussing even after the official working hours.

 

 

Project presentations were one of the best part of the seminar.


Each day was divided in four working sessions and the lunch breaks and evenings were full of inspiration – the presentation of local projects were happening, followed by extensive Q&A sessions. After the introduction and meeting each other, the group focused on the issues faced when working on the topic. They were organized in a problem tree and structured in root causes, main issues and effects – this exercise provided the team with space for self- reflection and discussion, looking at the issues from different viewpoints and utilizing diverse approaches. The further work was organized in working in small groups using the World Café method was used to cover the following topics, which would be part of the tool-kit: preparation of volunteers for working with the target groups, reaching local population, preparing projects, specific activities with asylum seekers and workcamps, methods and materials and awareness raising.

The seminar was closed with an Open Space where the participants could discuss topics which were interesting and important for them and their local branch:

  • International trainings
  • SCI long-term volunteers in refugee projects and the issue of replacing the state in projects with refugees
  • Toolkit – ideas and further communication after the seminar
  • International Coordination of SCI projects on refugees: Working group
  • Workcamps and common actions, International campaign on the topic
  • Involving Asylum-seekers and refugees in workcamps

 

Discussions were ingaging and interesting


Thanks to the brilliant organization of the local team and the determination of everyone the outcomes of this first meeting are really impressive. The tool-kit is outlined and the team is working on its finalization, a new SCI Working group was created and an action plan was created, including regular trainings and new joint projects. We peeped in the seminar room and could get some insight from the participants on the importance of such event for the movement. Below is what they shared and everything shows that we will hear very soon more great things from the activists who devote their time to the topic SCI-wide:

This Seminar was useful for me because …
[Katerina, CVS-Bulgaria] I got to know all the amazing activities SCI branches do and now I feel less alone in what we are trying to do in Bulgaria.
[Maurus, SCI Switzerland] I got inspiration and now feel enabled for new projects in the field.


In my local project I would like to use ...
[Thomas, SCI Austria] KVT Finland’s experience in involving refugees in workcamps. We will involve refugees from the Gardening project in two workcamps in September already. We'll have our first meeting on this next week.
[Agnes, SCI Hungary] The volunteer management system set by CVS-Bulgaria.
[Anna, CVS- Bulgaria] Theater as a tool for integration, as used by SCI –Switzerland.


The Future will bring …
[Angela, SCI Italy] More cooperation and knowledge exchange between SCI branches.
[Alexandra, SCI Switzerland] A new Working group and campaign as a start, trainings to empower more activists would follow.
[Nawid, KVT Finland] The need for more integration projects.
[Thomas, SCI Austria]  Applying for a bigger national funding for a Global Education project next year including the ideas we gathered during the seminar.

 

The Group

 

Article by Katerina Stefanova