Living Library Rhodes

Living Library Rhodes

The Living Library Event

The Living Library event took place on the 11th of May at the Inn of France (Auberge de France), Medieval City of Rhodes that was provided by the Region of South Aegean and the French Consulate.

The University of the Aegean – School of Humanities and the Municipality of Rhodes assisted in spreading the word of the event. 

The venue had multiple working rooms to host the readings of the human books and a set up convenient to overview spaces to ensure the procedure in a seamless way. 

The Living Library started at 10 a.m. and reading rounds ended up around 1 p.m., followed by the evaluations and taking photos. Each reading-session time lasted for some 25 minutes (“reading”+questions). 

For one Human Book we had to interpret to English, so the reading lasted 10 minutes longer – 35 minutes in total. After that, we had 10 minutes break for the Books to rest and the readers to have some water, beverages, snacks etc. and find out where is their next Book to read.

Impact

Overall, our involvement to the Project had a positive impact to the organization and the local community. First of all, we are part of an international team of esteemed partners, each excelling to its local community. Thus the cooperation and exchange of knowledge and best practices benefits our organization on an operational level. The Expressions in Dialogue specifically and the Living Libraries methodology in general is a very attractive tool, that has been cherished in our local community and has gained many friends and willing participants.

The international trainings attract a number of people that are trained and then work to pass over this acquired skills and practices to a wider audience of interested people of various professions and ages. Numerous side events are planned to be executed in the future. Thus, the Expressions in Dialogue project remains at the very heart of the House of Europe in Rhodes activities and thanks to the skills and people attached, the practices gained will remained a valuable asset to the organization’s toolbox. 

The preparation process of the multiplier events had a significant impact to how local community perceives young refugees and migrants. Rhodes is a first station where refugees arrive from the neighbouring islands and stay in Rhodes from few days to a few months until they are processed and forwarded to other places in Greece. That creates a problematic of finding refugees that are willing and able to actively be involved to such projects. So, we targeted to educate local community through the use of people working with refugees and first responders. Thus, the targeted audience where exposed not to personal experiences but the accumulated stories handled by various people.

At the local level we have targeted, on purpose, on a smaller targeted audience for the main event. That included a combined team of 18 members and over 35 readers, plus a couple of observers (UN Refugees Agency). The overall evaluation was positive and it assisted readers to better understand the situation of refugees, and minimize feelings of discrimination and prejudices towards refugees and migrants. 

The Living Libraries practice has been a proved tool to promote inclusion and awareness. The specialized targeting of our project, Expressions in Dialogue, despite its challenges, is a very emotionally rewarding experience for all those involved. At the same time, it is a unique opportunity for participating organizations to further get involved to their local communities and assist to young refugees/migrants inclusion, while gaining substantial international experience. 

The Catalogue

Bachar Abbas – “The Interpreter”

A interpreter from Damascus, who helped a lot the local authorities to communicate with migrants and refugees through translation passing on their messages from the first hands.

Dionisis Gouvias – “Learning the alphabet”

A deputy professor at the University of Aegean, in charge of tutoring the Greek language to young refugees and migrants.

Tha’er – “Th’aer = revolution”

A 21 y.o. young refugee from Iraq who currently stays at Rhodes and has an asylum seeker status.

Abbas Alrukby - “Escape from Iraq”

A 20 y.o. young refugee from Iraq who is trying to find friends and set up his life at Rhodes.

Matina Amerikanou – “Everything for returning home”

A 37 y.o. owner of funeral services office from Rhodes, who was in charge not only for arranging all the details with the dead bodies of refugees but also was the person who had to make all the arrangements with the repatriation of them.

Vladimir Kaisides – “re-collection”

A 30 y.o. former port authority security officer, who was in charge of collecting the bodies of the dead refugees and migrants from the Mediterranean Sea.

Stakeholders

The project at local level in Rhodes involved several stakeholders:

The Municipality of Rhodes, the Auberge de France, the South Aegean region and the University of the Aegean.

The Region of South Aegean and the French Consulate in Rhodes provided with the venue of our multiplier event.

The Municipality of Rhodes, the University of the Aegean – School of Humanities and the Center of Vocational Training “Georgios Genimatas” assisted with allocating the suitable participants to the international trainings, that would then train and assist the rest of the team.

Towards that direction, Mrs Adamantia Fatsea assisted, in her capacity as Special Advisor on Sustainable Development for the Directorate of Secondary Education of Dodecanese, which attracted educators and teachers to the program, either as participants to the trainings or members of the local team.

The impact to the local stakeholders has been positive, as they contributed actively to manning and executing the Multiplier event and they are eager to further and deepen their involvement to similar events in the future.

Finally, the participation of refugees was secured through the UN Refugees Agency in Rhodes. There overall impression was positive (they refused to provide with written evaluation).

The process created another multiplier event to take place also in Athens. To that event the stakeholders were mainly the House of Europe in Rhodes and the Library and Archives of the Jesuites Order in Athens. The venue was the Municipal Market of Kipseli, a building of the City of Athens, operated by the Impact Hub Athens as an open social enterpreneurship space. The project was realized by a smaller team, off the base of the House of Europe, as an experiment for further outreach.

Organisation Description

The House of Europe in Rhodes is a non-governmental, non-profit organization aiming on promoting the European Idea and the communication among the people of Europe. Its vision includes active participation in the procedure of the European Integration and the creation of a network of dialogue in Europe, the Mediterranean and the rest of the world.

The House of Europe in Rhodes was founded in 2000 and it is a member of the National Network of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue Between Cultures and the European Network for Education and Training e.V. – EUNET.

The House has demonstrated significant contribution to the cultural and academic development of Rhodes, participating in major events and being a member of international networks and projects. Furthermore, it created academic institutions in Rhodes, such as the awarded Rhodes Model Regional Co-operation international conference. In 2012, the House was awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean for its “commitment to dialogue and integration and the support to youth development”.

The Coordination team

The local Living Library in Rhodes was possible thanks to the engagement of the Coordinators Team,
the Librarians, Facilitators, Interpreters and specially to every and each Human Books with their live stories.

Magdalene

Political Scientist

In 2010 Magdalene, became an active member of the House of Europe in Rhodes and started getting involved with active citizenship and voluntarism. In 2013 she continued as the Head of the Youth Committee in the House of Europe in Rhodes, implementing actions and daily conferences promoting and empowering youth initiatives in local and in European level as well. Since February of 2015, she serves as the Secretary of the Board of the NGO.
As a passionate member of the organization she has undertaken various projects, programs and actions regarding voluntary work, young entrepreneurship and the promotion of European values in general. Moreover, she is a member of the Organizing Committee of the Annual Conference, Rhodes Model Regional Cooperation (RhodesMRC), while she has served as a member of the Secretariat and as the Secretary General of the conference. Since 2017, along with Michael Kavuklis, as the main coordinators, they have organized three Living Libraries events in the Old Town of Rhodes in order to reduce stereotypes, prejudice and all types of discrimination promoting inclusion and a general framework of understanding.
Since 2016, simultaneously with her voluntary work in the House of Europe in Rhodes she works as an event planner, while in 2019 she accomplished her Master degree in Event Management. Last but not least, she is a member of the Board of the Greek Cancer Society – Department of Rhodes.

Michael

President of the House of Europe in Rhodes

Michael G. Kavuklis is currently the President of the Board of the House of Europe in Rhodes and its international projects manager. Born and raised in Rhodes, Greece, Michael holds a BA in International and European Studies from the University of Macedonia and a MA in International, Political, and Economic Relations in the Mediterranean by the University of the Aegean.
Apart from being a political scientist and active citizen, he launched and handled Youth Projects for the House (member since 2007, Board Member since 2010, President since 2014) and was a member of the Youth Committee of the European Network for Education and Training e.V. – EUNET since 2009-2016, being involved in various youth projects. He has been selected and has experience of significant youth leadership programs like 8th International Neighbourhood Symposium, ``Managing Change in Europe's Neighbourhoods`` (Speaker, Odessa, Ukraine 2018), Nantes Creative Generations Forum (Nantes, 2013), ``(Euro)pean open end crisis - What is the vision for Europe in the 21 century?`` (Berlin, Paris, Bruxelles, Thessaloniki, 2012-2013) by the Franco-German Youth Office, the 1st International Neighbourhood Symposium (Istanbul, 2011), ``Managing the Challenges of Human Security on Europe's Borders and Beyond``, (Vienna, 2009), ``Water & Cultures in Dialogue``, Torino Youth Forum (Turin, 2008).
He is also in charge of the Greek National Network of Anna Lindh Foundation for South East Greece (Aegean-Crete). He has founded and run Rhodes Model Regional Co-operation, an internationally acclaimed simulation conference, since 2010. In October 2017, he was elected to the Board of the European Network for Education and Training, e.V. – EUNET.
He runs a small digital marketing agency in Rhodes, Greece, specialized in tourism, SMEs, NGOs and culture, since 2005. In that capacity he was a member of the bidding team for the candidacy of Rhodes for the title of European Capilita of Culture 2021, for which Rhodes was a finalist, in charge of Communication and International Networking.