According to «Attitudes towards National Identity, Immigration and Refugees in Greece» (More in Common, May 2019) research, Greeks, express, among others, their fear for possible violent events, terrorism and criminality due to refugees and their frustration for their incorporation to Greek society.
Through our activities we are planning to support the acceptance of diversity and social cohesion through public dialogue, facing fear and supporting critical thinking in education.
Remote Island of Chios, Periphery of North Aegean Sea, Greece (on the border of EU with Turkey)
At Chios, a remote island of 58.055 inhabitants – out of which 37,5% are descendants of Greek refugees expelled from Turkey after 1922 – 8.076 refugees arrived only in 2019 (in a total of 27.148 in the area of North Aegean).
As an entry point to Greece and EU, thousands of refugees remain trapped at a “limbo” status for long periods, even years.
At the same time, the island is facing a severe lapse of medical staff and infrastructure and serious gaps in the educational system.
The local inhabitants, are also experiencing the insecurity of distance from the capital of the country and even more from European decision making centers while they witness daily tensions among the army forces of the two neighboring countries.
Fear is dominating lately, empowering extreme voices.
The proposed program will focus on fear and will support the participants to identify how it functions drastically. Dialogue groups will be formed among locals to allow them to express their fear and rationalize them.
At the same time – different activities will be developed – to elaborate on fear caused by diversity. We will facilitate dialogue among different stakeholder groups of the island, permanent inhabitants and refugees both from the island but also from the opposite Turkish shore in order to share fears through storytelling and develop compassion and empathy.
Educational activities focusing especially on youth with learning disabilities will empower local youth in general to participate more actively to commons.
Starting with youth and especially adolescents as an “entry point” we will use our local network to invite in the process as much diverse and representative audiences from all areas of the island but also form the opposite shore of Turkey. Students both from urban and rural areas, their parents, elderly will be encouraged to join our activities. All local and peripheral administration entities will be asked to send their representatives as well. We will try to engage also representatives of formal and informal local groups that have recently developed more conservative points of view. Finally, through local research we will try to include in all activities stories (written or oral) of the refugee past of the island and attempt to reconciliate with the fears of the past.
1. Students: workshops on mental education.
2. Students vs Parents groups: workshops to cultivate intergenerational dialogue.
3. Students: workshops on diversity.
4. Teachers and parents: workshops informing and raising awareness of teachers and parents regarding the developmental difficulties.
1. Constructive public dialogues among student groups around anxiety and fear.
2. Constructive public dialogues among parent groups around anxiety and fear.
3. Constructive public dialogues around diversity.
Diagnostic evaluations in preschool and school age children:
1. Therapeutic design and rehabilitation support for children.
A series of radio broadcasts through the online radio station of the Center hosting students and parents, teachers and experts.
At the end of the program, more than 2.000 participants will have experientially addressed great part of their concerns towards diversity especially by developing empathy towards others and their fears.
Public events will give the chance to local community to express their own fears and feel that there is a safe space to have their voices heard.
By the end of the program students (especially those that are suffering from non-diagnosed educational disabilities) will have developed experiential skills in active and empathic listening and building every day small and larger scale spaces for creative dialogue.
We hope that all of the above will function as a starting point for stronger, more empathic and caring each other voices in the future with vivid and honest interest for commons.
Refugee and Migrant issue is a problem of the EU, still non solved. Mass media all across Europe are often broadcasting violent incidents from the Greek islands, quite often from Chios. At the same time, it is in those areas that function as gates for the EU that the level of suspicion towards EU is rising extremely.
EU policies and initiatives – also regulative – related to equality and protection of diversity, usually arrive quite late in closed communities of the periphery. The situation is similar concerning educational chances for local youth for which accessibility to education is only theoretically equal to those of youth in urban centers.
Our program is aiming to incorporating EU policies and the essences of dialogue, equality and social cohesion to the local society of Chios.
The requests of the local community of the island and especially the requests coming from the school community is the driving force and inspiration for our idea.
Our Center is always trying to address those requests either through its own financial means or through small donations, whenever this is possible.
Still, Civic Europe program is a unique chance for those requests and the needs behind them, to be addressed in a holistic way, through a tailor made program that includes both the empowerment of the local school community (development of soft skills, learning disabilities etc) and supporting creative public dialogue on matters of diversity and acceptance. At the same time, the program will also focus on curing fears on which extreme speech and behaviors are rooted.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs: 52326,36 EUR
Office expenses: 3600 EUR
Equipment: 1500 EUR
Public relations: 1500 EUR
Travel and accommodation costs: 500 EUR
Your work is great for supporting dialogue and democracy in isolated areas and we hope you will continue to do so. Thank you very much.