PECS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
The English-German Student Council of the University of Pécs Medical School (EGSC)
The Advanced College for Social Inclusion (a student study group ) at University of Pecs
Educators' Centre Association running a local civic resource centre
The project aims to work for enhancing tolerance and sensitivity to otherness in the context of a rising xenophobic atmosphere in Hungary that affects international students learning at the University of Pecs. We intend to address some real-life problems our students face due to discriminatory treatment by employing deliberative democratic tools and we shall be creating a variety of activities fostering interactive participation between different segments of student groups and local residents.
The city of PECS, South –Transdanubia of Hungary, the region’s GDP-level is the 259th out of the 268
In times of politically deeply divided societies enhancing social integration is a key priority. It is not new that the voices of marginalized people are not really heard and responded to. The new phenomenon is the growing xenophobia as Hungarian central government has been favouring ethno-nationalism, illiberal solutions to immigration and fostering the supremacy of national sovereignty in the past decade.
In our city the local university with its 20 thousand students is a key actor. More than 4,500 students are coming from more than 90 countries. The international students’ exposure to discrimination has grown ( in Covid-19 times even more so) based on their colour, gender and ethno-religious culture.
The project aims to reduce these xenophobic attitudes and practices
The project at first will be mapping the cases of unfair treatment. A new tool, a ‘University Citizen Barometer’- check-up will be made, intercultural dialogues will follow to capture the different viewpoints.
As a contribution to turning the ‘Inclusive University’– concept (currently it is only a concept outlining the theoretical background) of the institution into a reality, our project is set to organize a deliberative discussion process based on employing the method of a ‘Citizen’s Assembly’. It will generate initiatives and engagement for the future Action Plan. The issues brought to the fore will be creating a public discourse locally.
The intercultural meeting points and joint activities will be supported by the civic platform of The Neighbourhood Academy.
Audiences affected by our ideas are:
- Hungarian and foreign students
during the 35-year-old existence of the English-language programme involving students from 62 countries) and the 15-year old history of German-language programme at the Medical School there has always been a dividing wall between Hungarians and foreigners despite some major endeavours to integrate them.
Prejudices and stereotypes are still alive, separated communities do exist (students from the Far-East, Arabs, Muslims, Africans, etc…)
- Residents of the city, who dislike foreigners treating them negatively as “migrants”
- Service providers: landlords, pub and restaurant owners, personal service providers
- University staff
1. Partnership meetings
2. A series of motivating events reaching out to both university citizens and residents of the city. Selecting community events to meet with more interested parties.
3. Kick-off events raising awareness on the issue and promoting valuing cultural differences and managing diversity in a democratic way.
4. Running the platforms for co-creation and intercultural dialogues addressing the forms of social exclusion. Identifying ‘telling’ indicators for data-gathering.
5. University Citizen Barometer check-up with participatory involvement
6. Sharing of the key findings, generating public discourses
7. Cross-organizational Intercultural DAYS/EVENTS promoting respectful coexistentence
8. Policy Paper to the University and to the City
Enhanced appreciation of cultural differences following the lived experiences of cultural pluralism through many intercultural dialogues, events and joint creative activities.
A University Citizen Barometer check-up method with selected indicators that could be used for regular updating.
It can also be used as a monitoring-tool by the then functioning ‘Inclusive University Programme’
An online Complaint Box
The experiment with “The Citizen’s Assembly” method could be used for different public issues by the CF searching for community views and solutions.
A policy paper
A toolbox of positive integration and collection of good practices ( shared by the Neighbourhood Academy participants to upskill the civic sphere.
Growing youth engagement, projects, volunteers
Strengthening democracy, fighting against xenophobia in a democratic way is very important in the current political climate of populism and growing fake news culture. Authoritarian populists don’t comply with the rules of the liberal democracy.
Against these tides, the younger generation has to be win over for democratic values and measures, they have to gain first –hand experience in how to solve sensitive conflicts without aggression, and how to respond democratically to ethno-cultural, religious, and gender differences, what reasonable accommodation means, how to behave openly and constructively while respecting the others’ right.
A lot of international students have acquired the appropriate values and skills to create democratic frameworks for involving others to participate.
The project leader:
“The ideas above have always been important to me, to me as a resident of this town, as an employee of the university and as the mother of three.
I have worked at the university for 19 years. In the past 5 years I worked as office manager in EGSC, the student council representing foreign students’ interests and rights. I functioned as a bridge between students and civic organizations working in the city. If you check my Facebook profile, I usually use these lead words: #diversity,#tolerance,
I am new to the Community Foundation, I joined them this year and I hope to learn a lot from my colleagues since I am very determined and motivated.
I chose my motto from a Buddhist teaching: There are no others. There is only us.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs (project work, communication, translation,experts) 20.000.-
Travel and Accomodation : :3000.-
PR costs (banners, roll-ups,mediawork) :12.000.-
Activities, events (rent, catering, technical org.): 10.000.-
Equipment ,Office costs :5.000
Any reflection would be welcome.
Recommending good examples, valuable background materials and experienced and interested practitioners as peers to contact.