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    Cultural Vehicles in Education - assisting the needs of vulnerable social groups

    o.s. VzŠjemnť souĺitŪ ( Life Together)

    13th February 2008

    Pilot workshops. Please describe the profile of the group and the recruitment process

    Profile of learners: people of Roma origin, from socially excluded areas, age 20 - 60, mostly women, and some men presented. The common features - Roma origin, mostly unemployed, facing existential difficulties, experiencing discrimination by the society and social exclusion.

    Most of the course participants are unemployed for prolonged period of time. They have been searching for the job but are not successful, mostly due to the lower level of education (most of them have only basic education) and Roma background. All the beneficiaries spent hours searching for the job on the market and visiting companies, however the furthest they got so far was to the interviewing process, but then they never proceeded any further. All these experiences have negative impact on the self-esteem of the participants. They do not believe in themselves and their abilities anymore and that is mostly reflected in the way they present themselves in the public.

    Besides facing difficulties on the job market , most of the participants were picked from two groups that were very active already before starting on the CVE project. Both groups were struggling , each with slightly different type of discrimination by the society , which has a very negative impact on the most important part of their life - maternity and †children.
    One group has been known in the Czech Republic and also abroad as a Group of women harmed by coercive sterilization. These women were sterilized against their will either during the communist era as a result of the communist systematic methodology aiming to reduce birth rate among socially excluded, mostly Roma community, or after the downfall of the communism as a result of distorted medical practice. These women are very active in fighting for their dignity and for the future of all other mothers and women in the Czech Republic.
    Second part of the beneficiaries involves parents from socially excluded background whose children were taken away by the authorities due to insufficient conditions and not enough financial support for the children. These parents are very diligently working on improving their social situation, they are trying to find a job and improve the conditions for the children. They have been undergoing a very complicated court process in which they have been trying to get their children back. However, at this stage it is a long term process ,which could take few years and the parents have no guaranty they would win in the court and have their children at home again. All they could do in between is keeping in touch with the children - writing letters, visiting them in the institutions or sometimes they are allowed to take them for weekend or vacation.

    Expectations: These two groups of participants have a lot in common. They both crave for having children and feel neglected by the society around them. The groups agreed that they would like to reflect their feelings - longing for children and discrimination by the society in their artwork.
    All the participants also would like to improve their communication skills and overall knowledge so they can present themselves more self-confidently and increase their chances of finding a job.

    Please describe the main activities taken at this stage of the project

    • Recruitment (three meetings with the participants - December, two in January)
    • Employing project staff (February)
    • Participating on the first meeting of the partners in Bielsko - Biala 22-24th November
    • Meeting with the partners from Theater Grodzki in Ostrava (24th January)
    • Meeting with the key people employed in the project and deciding on program - from artistic and pedagogical background (13th February)
    • Organizing the first pilot workshop - (27th February

    Please describe any problems or difficulties at this stage of the project and the actions taken to overcome them

    All the participants are very enthusiastic into starting with the workshop and doing something as a group. However, we could expect after the first anxiety is over some drop rate among the participants. It is due to the fact, that many people do not realize when they enter such a course that it involves some deal of responsibility on their side as well. †Nevertheless, since we have expected some people to change their mind about their attendance , we have recruited 16 persons, which means that even if half of the beneficiaries (the worst scenario) drops down, there will still be 8 people remaining. Therefore we expect the final number of the beneficiaries to crystallize after 1 or two months of workshops.

    The overall hours of the workshop sessions are slightly long considering the facts that most of the participants are not used to attending school , classes or go to the job regularly. It might be difficult for them to get used to the regime of coming to their class on regularly bases and stay focused for the duration of the session. For this reason, together with the art professional, we agreed, that it is very important to keep the classes interesting and entertaining. The classes are going to be adjusted to the abilities and nature of the group. The first class will be introductory, where the art specialist will try think about the potential of the group and its individuals and together with them he will develop general scheme, which however would be flexible during the entire time depending how the group is doing during the classes. The goal of this aim is to keep the participants interested in the workshops, so they can enjoy every session.

    Determining the needs and wishes of the group could be also little bit difficult due to the fact that the participants are of different age groups. We can expect that some of the wishes and expectations might be different from individual to the individual. Nevertheless, the main joint feature should connect all the participants together - their social exclusion, lack of understanding by the society, discrimination and mainly their long-term longing for children.
    In order to overcome differences of the individuals , we have decided to employ a very experienced person from the art field who has many experiences in doing art workshops with mentally disabled, senior citizens and mainly with mixed groups. Our artist is very sensitive with dealing with people and their needs and very flexible in regards to the schedule. It means he could make necessary adjustment to the planned schedule of the class when he realizes it is important for the group.

    In what way did the educational and artistic activities interact? Please give some specific examples

    Even though we have had few meetings with the group already , the first workshop with the artist is starting at the end of February. However, regarding educational activities, we would like to highlight Roma origin to the participants. Most of Roma are getting very confused in today's world because they are not accepted by the majority for being different and they always hear negative comments on Roma people. As a result they keep losing their traditions and sense to be proud of who they are. It is important for them to realize that they have a very long , impressive history and beautiful culture they have been slowly forgetting. They need to realize that Roma is a worldwide language, that they are not isolated and separated but they have many Roma relatives in all parts of Europe. Definitely, we would like to give them overall knowledge about Roma in the Czech Republic, but mostly about Roma people and their way of living in the countries of European Union.
    We would like to reflect Roma origin and celebrate Roma together with the art teacher via artistic scenes and stories. In the scenes participants would be able to show their surrounding who they are and how important Roma minority in Europe actually is..
    Another part of education would be communication. The participants would learn how to communicate more effectively and how to face problems calmly and discuss them with others in more effective manner. They will learn little bit of psychology of people around them to understand some hidden reasons for negative behavior and the ways how to deal with this. They will also learn about the discrimination and about the ways how to cope with the discrimination by the society.
    In their art classes the participants will have opportunity to try to play some scenes in which they will be facing discrimination just as they do in their regular life and try all kinds of ways how to behave in situation when they feel discriminated.
    Scenes of discrimination will then serve also for the audience from the majority to realize how Roma are sometimes treated and what kind of impact it could have on the life of such a mistreated individual and his self-esteem. These scenes will mainly highlight the pain all of the participants have been undergoing after losing their children or not being able to bare children anymore.

    How did the arts-based educational activities help the participants to:

    1. acquire certain competences and skills
    2. facilitate knowledge assimilation (learning specific information)
    Please give some specific examples.

    The workshops are about to start this month, however we expect the participants to acquire :

    1. Overall knowledge regarding European union and especially about Roma minority in the European union - the way of living of Roma in different countries, history of Roma people,
    2. Cultural, social and civic competences were developed as well as communication in the mother tongue (Lisbon key competences no 1, 6 and 8).
    3. Expressive and theatrical skills - beneficiaries will be able to express their feelings to the society with the help of art
    4. Self-esteem - we expect the participants to believe in themselves and their abilities more and more during the course

    Please reflect on progress made by individual persons (for example, increased motivation of a reluctant learner or better social skills of a shy participant).

    We cannot reflect on the progress at this stage. We can only say that all the recruitees are very anxious to start and have something to look forward to in their lives. This feature is very important for them because many of them are very unhappy with their lives and were already losing hope that anything would change. By finding a way to learn something and express their deeply hidden feelings of hurt and pain to their surroundings in the† artistic way is something that they look forward to as to a pain reliever.


    - workshops 17.01.2008 >>>

    - workshops 27.02.2008 >>>

    - workshops 06.03.2008 >>>

    - workshops 12.03.2008 >>>

    - Photos/Videos from pilot workshops >>>

    The Bielskie Artistic Association Grodzki Theatre
    Premises - contact address: ul. Sempo≥owskiej 13, 43-300 Bielsko-Biala, Poland
    Office:ul.Sempo≥owskiej 13, 43-300 Bielsko-Biala, Poland ,
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