EVRSITY “European VoluntEers promote diverSITY and intercultural dialogue” is the new EVS project, developed considering the results of previous similar experiences and the needs and issues identified on the territory of Sandrigo, and neighbouring municipalities (Italy) ,where the Social Cooperative Margherita runs different kinds of services in favour of disadvantaged children and youth, elderly and disabled people. In this geographical context characterized by evident social challenges as: the stable flows of asylum seekers, the increasing number of second-generation migrants in need of support inside the educational system, the presence of nationalist movements and a culture which tends to celebrate perfection rather than diversity and inclusion; we perceived the need to help people and local communities to see diversity as a positive value, embracing a path of inclusion and intercultural dialogue at different levels. For this reason, we decided to realize this EVS project having as main objective the promotion of diversity, tolerance, intercultural dialogue, social inclusion and solidarity as fundamental values of the EU thanks to the inclusion of international volunteers, in the services of the Cooperative and in the local community.
Thanks to the project, starting from January 2018 for 12 months, three young volunteers from Greece, Spain and Germany will be involved in the activities realized by Cooperativa Margherita in favour of the users of its centres (minors and children, including descendant of immigrants, disabled and elderly people) and the whole community. They will participate and support the management of laboratories, workshops, intercultural and learning activities; sharing also simple moments (lunch, free time, etc.) and creating valuable relations and interactions. In each activity, the volunteers will contribute to the reflection on diversity focusing on different aspects and being themselves an example of integration and solidarity. For example, in the centres for minors attended by many children/youth descendant from immigrant families, they will share the fact of coming from a different cultural/linguistic background evidencing positively diversity, favouring the intercultural dialogue and non-discrimination in education. From the other side, interacting with elderly and disabled people they will be promoters of social inclusion further than promoting a cultural exchange. Furthermore, whenever possible, activities will involve people of the local community to increase their impact.
During activities, the tutors will guide volunteers and share the unique methodology of the Cooperative based on the principle of “Domiciliarity” (home-care), which means to recognize the importance of the family and the whole context within which each user has been grown up and live in. Volunteers will be sharing daily life with the users but they will be asked to be proactive, having the opportunity to create events, laboratories and workshops, involving citizens further than centres users, experimenting what it means to be part of the society in a careful and active way and improving their active citizenship aptitude. This will allow them to have an enriching interaction and improve their competences and sense of initiative.
Positive impacts foreseen are many. The volunteers will have a big chance to acquire new skills and competencies, to increase their sense of tolerance and solidarity as well as their intercultural competences and the ability to transfer these values to others. The users of Margherita’s centres will have the possibility to create new relationships, exchanging new intercultural elements and reinforcing their communication attitudes, feeling also part of an inclusive society. On the other hand, Margherita and the other partners will enhance the international and European dimension of their work sharing this with the members of the community on respective territories. Furthermore, Volunteers will be “change drivers”, their participation will help us to improve the way we work every day, fostering the creation of new ways to operate towards Cooperative’s target groups and improving our intercultural competences and attitudes in an increasingly multicultural society. Different languages, cultures and background will be mixed together and there will be a mutual positive contamination between all the parties involved, promoting common European Values of diversity, tolerance, solidarity and active participation, stimulating a dialogue between the involved local communities and Europe.
Finally, our biggest hope is that, with the collaboration and the precious help of the volunteers, “EVRSITY” will constitute a step forward in eliminating the barriers and the boundaries, which often marginalize people with different social/cultural backgrounds or abilities, hence contributing to a real inclusive, tolerant and solidarity-based society.