Living Libraries as Inclusion tool

Summary

Living Libraries as Inclusion tool

Inclusion is a way towards Intercultural societies – ones where diversity of cultures is respected and valued. The Project addressed the challenges to inclusion of migrants and refugees through the Living Library methodology, which was also used as an inclusion tool for migrants and refugees involved in the Project.

Index

An Inclusion process

Cultural adaptation

Living Library as inclusion tool

Factors supporting and hindering the inclusion process

Recommendations

Introduction

Inclusion is a way towards Intercultural societies – ones where diversity of cultures is respected and valued. The Project addressed the challenges to inclusion of migrants and refugees through the Living Library methodology, which was also used as an inclusion tool for migrants and refugees involved in the Project.

Inclusion was promoted not only through the impact of Living Library events in the public space, but as well through the overall preparation, implementation and evaluation of these events, as an inner process in the local teams.

Along the year-long project, a mixed team composed of local youth workers andyoungmigrantsandrefugees workedtogetherinthedevelopmentofthe Living Library events in each of the partner cities.
This process by, for and with young migrants was the main source of learning, cohesion and inclusion.

In this Thematic Chapter, organisers will find some useful tips about inclusion youth work through living libraries and the supporting and hindering factors for inclusion of young migrants and refugees in the hosting communities.

Content

An Inclusion process

Inclusion is a term used widely in social and educational policy-making to express the idea that all people living in a given society (should) have access and participation rights on equal terms. This means, on the one hand, that institutions, structures and measures should be designed positively to accommodate diversity of circumstances, identities and ways of life. On the other hand, it means that opportunities and resources should be distributed so as to minimise disadvantage and marginalisation.

In the sphere of European youth work and non-formal education, inclusion is considered an all-embracing strategy and practice of ensuring that people with fewer opportunities have access to the structures and programs offered.

The main reasons creating difficulties for inclusion of young migrants and refugees are multifold: stereotypes and prejudices leading to xenophobia of hosting communities, international, national and local political and economical interests as well as instabilities and lack of Global justice. Nobody is fully free of prejudices, newcomers may as well have their own prejudices and wrong expectations. So, towards the Inclusion it is necessary to work with both hosting community stereotypes as well as the ones of the new-comers.

“Expressions in Dialogue” is a Strategic Partnership of organizations addressing the refugee cause from diverse realities in Europe to create innovative youth work tools for:

● Supporting the inclusion of young migrants and refugees strengthening their sense of belonging to the hosting communities;

● Mainstreaming intercultural dialogue and de-construct prejudices through the implementation of Living Library actions.

The Project proposes to work for, with and by youth migrants and refugees together with youth workers and youth leaders from diverse communities around Europe to develop innovative practices on refugee inclusion through human rights education and Living Library methodologies.

Inclusion is a term used widely in social and educational policy-making to express the idea that all people living in a given society (should) have access and participation rights on equal terms. This means, on the one hand, that institutions, structures and measures should be designed positively to accommodate diversity of circumstances, identities and ways of life. On the other hand, it means that opportunities and resources should be distributed so as to minimise disadvantage and marginalisation.

In the sphere of European youth work and non-formal education, inclusion is considered an all-embracing strategy and practice of ensuring that people with fewer opportunities have access to the structures and programs offered.

The main reasons creating difficulties for inclusion of young migrants and refugees are multifold: stereotypes and prejudices leading to xenophobia of hosting communities, international, national and local political and economical interests as well as instabilities and lack of Global justice. Nobody is fully free of prejudices, newcomers may as well have their own prejudices and wrong expectations. So, towards the Inclusion it is necessary to work with both hosting community stereotypes as well as the ones of the new-comers.

“Expressions in Dialogue” is a Strategic Partnership of organizations addressing the refugee cause from diverse realities in Europe to create innovative youth work tools for:

● Supporting the inclusion of young migrants and refugees strengthening their sense of belonging to the hosting communities;

● Mainstreaming intercultural dialogue and de-construct prejudices through the implementation of Living Library actions.

The Project proposes to work for, with and by youth migrants and refugees together with youth workers and youth leaders from diverse communities around Europe to develop innovative practices on refugee inclusion through human rights education and Living Library methodologies.

Cultural adaptation

Acculturation is the process by which the people adjust and adopt cultural aspects in contact with a culture other than their own. It is done through a process of social, psychological, and cultural change that stems from the balancing of two cultures while adapting to the prevailing culture of the society.

Depending on the extent of the interaction and values’- and behavior-exchange happens between the hosting/majority culture and the culture of the new comer/minority culture, John Berry (1994; 2001) identifies 4 different strategies in his Acculturation Model.

  • Integration – The individual maintains their own cultural identity while at the same time becomes a participant in the host culture.
  •  Assimilation – The individual gives up their own cultural identity and gets absorbed into the host culture.
  • Segregation – The individual maintains their own cultural identity and rejects involvement with the host culture.
  • Marginalization – The individual does not identify with or participate either their own or the host culture.Berries’ (2001) Model as well includes four Acculturation strategies adopted by the host culture: Multiculturalism, Melting Pot, Segregation and Exclusion.

Different societies may adopt one of these as their mainstream strategy towards the other cultures and build their policies based on that.

❏ Multiculturalism – the society values and fosters diversity. ❏ Melting Pot – The society seeks assimilation.
❏ Segregation – the society forces separation.
❏ Exclusion – The society imposes marginalization.

The Model provides much food for thought and reflection on our own acculturation process and on our own societies’’ strategies towards migrants and refugees. We should as well understand that acculturation also refers to changes in the receiving society as a result of contact with immigrant groups, while acculturation is most often studied as a process of adaptation in immigrants.

J. Berry looked to Integration as a more positive process and Multiculturalism as the best strategy for developed societies.
However we would like to bring to understanding other terms that seem to express the most recent attitudes to these processes.

Multicultural refers to a society that contains several cultural or ethnic groups (they are accepted there). People live alongside one another, but each cultural group does not necessarily have engaging interactions with each other.

While I​ntercultural describes communities in which there is a deep understanding and respect for all cultures. In Intercultural society all its members feel included. Interculturality is a strategy and a way to INCLUSION.

Living Library as inclusion tool

The main concept of the Project is about doing Living Libraries as space or the “excuse” for the inclusive and integrative process for the people involved in it. Youth with migrant and refugee backgrounds were involved together with the local young people on an equal basis with equal opportunity to contribute and affect the process, take important decisions.

Each person involved, not depending on their origins, profiles and identities could identify themselves their role in the preparation, running and further progress of the Living Library.

The main impact of the traditional Living Library is, of course, on the public – the readers of the Human Books (challenging stereotypes about diverse vulnerable and discriminated social groups in the society and thus supporting the inclusion of these groups), however, in the way this Project was created, the important emphasis was made as well on the inner inclusion process: what is happening and how is happening the work within the preparatory teams of the multiplier events or local Living Libraries; and importantly – fostering in longer terms further work of these teams doing other Living Library events or involvement of migrants and refugees in other projects and possible becoming members of organization.

From this perspective, the Living Library is a tool for inclusion and may be used as such a tool.

At the dissemination meeting in Catalonia in October 2019, participants representing all the groups, who already had their experience of involvement in local Living Libraries in different roles, were analyzing how events went in terms of Inclusion. The processes went differently in different teams, but it was evident that it was a transformative process for all groups.

So, what were The factors that supported or hindered the process of inclusion of migrants and refugees involved in the Living Libraries?

Factors supporting and hindering the inclusion process

Often the same factor can be at the same time hindering and supporting depending on how it was uncovered.

Supporting inclusion Hindering inclusion

Safety and acceptance

o The event is a safe space for all its participants and open for expression of everyone;

o The Migrants and refugees feel that their stories are interesting and they are motivated to share and speak about their experiences, but they are not forced, if they are not ready;

o Inclusivity as well for people with disability;

o Creation of the conditions for comfortable communication and exchange, working spaces, availability of water and snacks, inclusive food; or organize lunch for people to have informal talks etc.;

o The communication barrier between the local youth and participants with migrant/refugee backgrounds – breaking the ice and getting to know each other as well as team-building is needed to have a coherent inclusive atmosphere in the team.

o Migrants and refugees decide themselves in what role they get involved in the event.

Venue, date and time of the event

o Well-chosen venue, time and date ensure that many readers come to an event.

o The bad choice of the venue, day, time of the event as well as weak “marketing” of the LL event, may hinder the success of it – not many readers will come.

The language

o An opportunity to support with the translation to facilitate the communication with those of linguistic difficulties. The opportunity for the Human Book to speak their story in the language they feel most comfortable.

o Some Human Books were limited by their linguistic abilities in order to bring better their story; they needed interpreters and longer time to express themselves. Human Books in foreign languages limit the access of readers to them, who only speak local languages. For that reason is so important the role of the interpreters.

The balance and diversity among all the participants

o The cultural, age and gender diversity among the team of Human Books, Facilitators and other actors involved;

o Diversity of the public in terms of age, gender, social and cultural backgrounds.

o Gender issue: among Human Books there were more men than women. In general among the participants with migrant/refugee backgrounds there were more men and, on the opposite, among the local participants – more women;

o The representation of the hosting (local) community should be as well strong – the lack of such books and team-members shows the interest of the hosting community and its readiness and openness for integration.

Preparation of the Living Library

o All the people involved know each other, the roles and responsibilities they have and

o Lack of budget;
o Lack of emotional support and

safety of the Human Books

understand the process of the

LL event well;
o Feeling of togetherness and a

feeling that you are not alone

in this struggle;
o Active involvement of the

migrants and refugees in the organization of the event, including communication and logistics, not only in a role of Human Books;

o Seeing Living Library as a process helps to foster inclusion because Living Library is including all the preparation before the event itself and all what is following afterwards;

o Book preparation – helped them have a sense of belonging, making them feel more comfortable telling their stories.

before, during and after the LL

event;
o Low conflict management

capacity during the event, for instance dealing wit the tension between the books and the readers;

o Weak opportunities to feedback evaluate and measure the impact of the LL event.

Space for encounters

o Living Library as informal networking,

making-new-friends and meeting each other space between the local youth and migrant/refugee young people.

o People are invited just to do their Human Book work at the one-time event – no connection exists with other participants.

NGO-s and stakeholders involved

o More Human Books can be mobilized trough the cooperation with old networks or totally new partners/stakeholders; it helps participants joining as well from other fields of work or locations and creates new partnerships and strengthens the old ones;

o When through the partnerships or networks new events are coming to join for migrants and refugees.

o Lack of partnership with other organizations, who could provide support on different levels;

o Failing partnerships.

Human Books’ stories

o It is an experience of possible dialogue that might reshape books beliefs. They get to experience that it is possible to tell their stories that people are interested in listening to them. They are challenged to deconstruct their own stereotypes as well;

o Balance of the stories represented in Human Books – they are diverse and catchy to the readers;

o Migrants and refugees are not forced to be Human Books – they can choose their role at the event.

o The story that reinforces the stereotypes of the readers.

Public/readers

o Enhancing openness and inclusion in already open-minded people;

o Reaching out people with high prejudice level.

o As the venue was migrant friendly, the audience was as well on some extent sensibilized in the issues of migration/refuge, – much people stay not being addressed with their prejudices and with low sensitivity

towards

refugees; o People

stereotypes Library.

migrants

reinforce after

and

their Living

Follow-up, evaluation, feedback, impact

o Seeing Living Library as a process helps to foster inclusion because Living Library is including all the preparation before the event itself and all what is following afterwards;

o Feedback after the event from the organisers and the books – build some connection between the facilitators, librarians and books;

o As migrants and refugees are on the move (especially in transit countries in terms of migration), some of the participants (among migrants and refugees) left away soon after the LL, so, their involvement in long term was no more possible;

o Seeing Living Library as a one-time event;

o Weak visibility of the event: before, during and after;

o The team, and especially migrants and refugees, will feel being cared of and needed, if there is continuation and follow-up events;

o More meetings and further Living Libraries to come with the same team;

o A possibility of involvement of the migrants and refugees in other projects of the organization and become its members.

o The project doesn’t have any continuation for the organization.

Recommendations

The main aim of the project was the inclusion of young migrants and refugees in the hosting communities. For that reason the successful evaluation of the project focused on how inclusively went the local Living Library process, together with the plans for local follow up.

The potential of the Living Library methodology to support the inclusion process was confirmed at its full. Therefore, we are promoting this approach to any organizations, working with migrants, refugees and other minority or excluded social groups. Living Library is a powerful methodology promoting Inclusion, Interculturality and mainstreaming Human Rights.

The inclusion factors, identified by the participants, also make the link with the recommendations and guidelines on how quality Living Library in general should be organised and how it should be organised in the most inclusive way, when it is focused on migration and refugees. Find further information in the Thematic Chapters and Guidelines.

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