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Teaching Peace & Empathy in Local Communities | Civic Europe
Education and research, Social inclusion

Teaching Peace & Empathy in Local Communities

Educate to break black-and-white stereotypes, prevent violence and discrimination, promote openness and support the culture of contact between foreigners and host communities outside larger cities.


Who is behind this?

Joanna Wójcik

Internationaler Bund Polska


Who is joining forces?

Salam Lab


Municipal Social Welfare Center in Tychy


Communal Social Assistance Center in Wola


Employment Bureau in Tychy; County Family Support Center in Będzin; Stanisław Wyspiański’s School Complex with Integration and Special Departments in Waganowice; more partners are mentioned further


Idea pitch

We are experiencing the rise of populism and xenophobia. This affects especially communities outside of large cities, where there are no educational or political ways of preventing it. We will train local leaders and promote our tried-out methods in teaching empathy. We will give children from small towns and rural areas a chance to experience “the other” by inviting trainers with a migration background. We will break the black-and-white way of thinking and prevent violence and discrimination.

Where will your project idea take place?

Małopolskie Province, Śląskie Province

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The project responds to the visible transformation of Poland - from ethnically and culturally homogeneous into multicultural. As shown in the data published by the Office for Foreigners, the number of permits for residence in Poland increases year by year and is the highest in the whole EU. The number of permits issued in the area targeted by us has increased in the last 5 years: by 32 637 in Małopolskie Province, and by 18 262 in Śląskie Province.
While the numbers are increasing, no one - especially from the central authorities - seems to care about proper integration between communities outside big cities. The lack of proper education and the popularity of conservative political views in these regions often result in increased discrimination, violence, and hate speech instances.

Who are you doing it for?

The main target group are the populations of the Małopolskie and Śląskie provinces living outside big cities, where one can observe a lack of diversity that generates a lot of stereotypes. We also want to empower local leaders and teachers so that they can teach empathy and peace effectively.
We believe that occurrences such as the aforementioned replica of a gun brought to school by a student result from a lack of proper education in early stages. It has been observed that more and more adolescents from smaller towns tend to develop similar behaviours. We aim to help them better understand multicultural societies, so that such situations do not happen again.

How do you plan to get there?

1st month - preparation of the project; preparing the plan of workshops and building the team of trainers with migration and refugee background;
1st-3rd month - a small information campaign; recrutation of trainers in local communities outside big cities; recrutation of schools and groups of students for trainings;
3rd-6th month - workshops for trainers (6*120-min meetings for 10 groups of around 20-25 people); workshops led by Salam Lab educational team; (stationary and/or online);
5th-11th month - workshops for students (6*90-min meetings for 15 groups of around 25-35 students); each workshop led by two trainers; (stationary and/or online); workshops will be conducted by previously trained educators from local communities and by trainers with migration/refugee backgrounds;
12th month - evaluation of surveys, organization of the final meeting for trainers and planning future activities; publication of the raport;

Rough plan of the workshops:
1. What is empathy & diversity?
2. Getting to know the "perspective of the other." What is the situation of people discriminated against?
3. "Recognizing your own roots." Who was or is a migrant in your family?
4. Who are the refugees and migrants really?
5. Fake news and manipulations in public space. How not to be deceived?
6. Migration crisis and multicultural Poland - how can we prevent discrimination?

What are the expected results?

We expect our participants to gain major skills in understanding how multicultural societies work. They will be also taught how to respond to discrimination (especially by origin and religion) and stereotypes. We will encourage open-mindedness and readiness to undertake grassroots movements in support for minority groups.
Participants will also gain the ability to properly respond to media manipulation and hate speech, recognize false information, and understand the concept of empathy. It will help them assume the perspective of another person more easily.
As for the educators, through training they will gain the necessary knowledge on how to create open environments. It will give them the skills to do it even after the project ends.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The project responds to the challenges faced by people who witness their ethnically and culturally homogeneous communities transform into multicultural ones.
Our goal is to help these communities understand the process and develop the appropriate skills to build one safe space with people migrating to Poland, so that they can actively speak on their matters and participate in decisions made in this regard.
We believe participants will be encouraged enough to undertake grassroots movements in support for minority groups at their community level. It will open them for communication and multicultural integration. On the other hand, the program’s aim is also shaping critical thinking skills that will help the participants to discern xenophobic coverage.

Why is this idea important to you?

The key person behind the project- Karol Wilczyński, Ph.D. is an educator, the founder of Salam Lab and a peace journalist. He deals with communication strategies of social and fundraising campaigns in cooperation with numerous NGOs and organizations. For the past 7 years he has been conducting workshops on global education as well as on Islam and migration processes. He is the author of the educational program “Empathy and Diversity” carried out in cooperation with IB Polska and the city of Kraków.
As for the whole team, our priority is to counteract violence and discrimination. We are strongly against black-and-white thinking. We strive to build bridges between various ethnic and religious communities and believe education is fundamental. That is why this project is so important to us.

€ 41800,-

Total budget

€ 34800,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Coordination: 3 500 EUR
Promotion of the project in social media (50%): 4 000 EUR
Trainers’ travel costs: 3 000 EUR
Training for ca. 250 educators: 9 000 EUR
Office supplies and materials printing cost: 2 000 EUR
Training for ca. 500 students: 10 800 EUR
Evaluation forms analysis and report preparation: 1 500 EUR
Closing meeting after the end the end of the project: 1000 EUR

Own budget:
Educational program project: 3 000 EUR
Promotion of the project in social media (50%): 4 000 EUR


Joanna Wojcik

Salam Lab

Idea created on April 26, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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