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The purpose of this project was to increase the level of communication,understanding and acceptance among the younger generation that derives from different cultural and religious backgrounds. The project took place between 17 and 26 October 2014 in Bucharest and it was organized by the Middle East Political and Economic Institute association together with the Orenda Foundation from Bulgaria, La insola che non c’e from Italy and Experiential Training Center from Turkey.

The field component of the project took place through a series of activities organized in four high schools in Bucharest, namely: „Grigore Moisil” National College, „Grigore Asachi” Technical College, „Nichita Stănescu” Theoretical High School and „A.I.Cuza” Theoretical High School. Romanian, Bulgarian, Italian and Turkish participants were divided in four inter-ethnic groups coordinated by a representative of the Romanian team and submitted questionnaires on “Religious discrimination”, “Stereotypes”, “Intercultural communication” and “Equality in opportunities.” Also, during these meetings, the participants had conversations with high school students and made pictures and videos during these sessions. The results identified during each of these activities will be presented bellow.

Within the framework of the “Inter-cultural Communication” questionnaire that was taken at the “Grigore Moisil” high school, the results showed that the students have interacted in general with representatives of other nationalities and cultural mediums, directly or indirectly; they didn’t encounter difficulties in intercultural communication; the majority of them have friends from different cultures; they generally consider that misunderstandings in inter-cultural communication appear due to the faulty interpretation of verbal messages, and to avoid this, most of them emphasize the correct choice of words. It has been identified that the language used in selecting friends is Romanian, English and French; only occasionally students feel that in intercultural mediums communication barriers might appear due to the challenges of expressing oneself in a foreign language or causes related to culture. School facilitates communication with other cultures via the Internet, cultural exchanges programs, studying history and a foreign language.

The majority of the students that took this questionnaire where males, aged between 16 and 18, 11th and 12th grade, Romanians, and most of them never took part in an European project.

Following the success that this action had, the head principal, Mrs. Dana Corina BOBOCEA facilitated a classroom were further discussions could take place, the pupils therefore could gather more information on  Erasmus+, the situation of Romanians in countries such as Italy or the reinforcement of social integration policies.

Following the protocol that was agreed, the high school management declared its willingness to support further activities undertaken by MEPEI via Erasmus+.

At the “Grigore Asachi” Technical College, the results achieved by applying the “Religious Discrimination” questionnaire showed that most of the students questioned consider themselves to be only somewhat religious or adherent to religious traditions. Most of them think that religion is only in a smaller part important to them, and when asked if they know the basics of other religions most of them declared that they are somewhat familiarized with Islam and the rest with Hinduism and Judaism. Most of the students confirmed that they never visited institutions that belonged to other religious cults besides Christianity although they almost unanimously responded that they have a friend/ an acquaintance that is part of another religion. They all denied the fact that they ever felt favored because of their religion and the majority of them has never witnessed religious based discrimination, but if they did, they would help the persons being discriminated against in case they were their friends. Most of the students think that education on other religions would be useful if extended in schools and the majority confirm that they tend to have prejudices against other religious cults based on news that are promoted via mass-media. Most of the students think religion should be kept as mandatory in schools.

The questionnaires were submitted by 19 students, aged 17-18, the majority of them being males.

The “Stereotypes” questionnaire that was undertaken in „Nichita Stănescu” Theoretical High School showed that a large part of the pupils already are familiar with the notion of stereotype and understand what it means. When asked if they found out that their best friend sexual orientation is homosexual, the majority of the respondents declared themselves as open to accept or to tolerate the situation. At the same time it was confirmed that the opinion of the majority is that there is no equality between men and women and that the fathers of the pupils only seldom take care of household chores. Most of the students admitted that they had negative interactions with people of Roma ethnicity but unanimously responded that they wouldn’t have a problem to travel together with people of this ethnicity in the public transportation system. Referring to their knowledge on Islamic religion, most of them declared themselves unknowingly and possibly curious if a Muslim woman wearing a burka would enter a Christian church. The majority of the respondents admit that they associate Islamism with terrorism but the average opinion shows that if a brother/sister should marry a person of Islamic religion that would be acceptable. In the case of choosing a roommate based on the categories that the questionnaire mentioned most of the answers indicated openness in choosing someone who is homosexual. The students unanimously admitted that they never felt discriminated based on stereotypes.

The questionnaires were submitted to students aged 17-18, the majority of them being males.

The results of the “Equality in opportunities” questionnaire that was undertaken at the „A.I.Cuza” Theoretical High School, indicated that, in general, students think that equality in opportunities exists in their high school but this doesn’t necessarily reflects in their teachers attitude towards the students, as they have seen countless inequalities in the day to day life. The majority thinks that in order to counter these situations, informal and interactive activities together with projects that imply teamwork and travelling abroad are welcomed. If students would put themselves in the situation of a person that is in a wheelchair, the unanimous opinion is that they would feel debunked, discriminated and frightened. The experience of receiving help from someone they wouldn’t expect was confirmed by most of the respondents that, at the same time, admitted they had had to put themselves in the situation of being in the shoes of someone else. A quarter of the students stated that members of their family have disabilities.

The questionnaires were submitted to students aged 17-18, the majority of them being males.

These practical activities that have taken place during this project were rated as positive by the Bulgarian, Turkish and Italian teams through their diversity and the possibility of visiting the four high schools and interacting with Romanian students. The results obtained via the questionnaires were extremely eloquent for the topic and added value in the empirical understanding of concepts like stereotypes, discrimination and equality in opportunities.

Through these activities that were taken and the session that were organized, we believe that the objective that we set out for, was achieved, namely to eliminate the stereotypes and prejudices that influence the way young people think.



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