In this article, you will read about:
- Key skills of global citizens and important prerequisites for learning to live together
- Main outcomes of the international forum on intercultural understanding, “Living, Learning and Innovating Together”, convened by AFS France
- An award winning social impact project designed by high school students to tackle social inclusion of migrant youth
Living together in multicultural societies is a challenge at the heart of our modern societies. It is also in the AFS mission to tackle this challenge with actions fostering better intercultural understanding. That is why AFS Vivre Sans Frontière (AFS France) has decided to reassert its values of respect, community and openness by organizing an international forum about “Living, Learning and Innovating Together” in a highly symbolic venue in Paris, the National Museum for the History of Immigration.
The forum brought together almost 150 participants interested in creating bridges between diverse organizations and individuals, determined to embrace a positive attitude towards cultural diversity. The participants discovered concrete and innovative initiatives responding to the significant need for intercultural dialogue in our society.
The value of diversity and the need to respect and accept others was one of the prominent points of the forum. Michel Sauquet, Professor at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and Dominique Groux, Professor Emeritus of the Université des Antilles were the most vocal advocates of this topic. Professor Groux also emphasized that key skills of global citizens are empathy, the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes, collaboration and self-awareness.
Interactive workshops inspired participants to explore various aspects of intercultural understanding. Some of the key learning outcomes from the forum include that:
- The goal of interfaith dialogue is to enable people with different beliefs to meet, discuss and have a good time together (from a workshop facilitated by Seynabou Seye, from the association Grandir Ensemble which focuses on interfaith dialogue)
- Learning about and understanding others is a crucial prerequisite for education for peace and it should start at an early age, ideally with young children in kindergartens (workshop organized by the French Association of Comparative Education and Exchanges (AFDECE) and Dominique Groux)
- The value of and tools for developing foreign language skills in schools were underscored by Mercè Bernaus, professor at the University of Barcelona and Martine Kervran, professor at the school training future professors in Rouen
- Social and civic competences, self-awareness, critical thinking, communication skills, and empathy were identified as important skills developed by living abroad and hosting foreigners in one’s own country. The participants also learned to identify and assess intercultural competences with tools developed by the European Union, such as the Youthpass. (workshop moderated by Sébastien Thierry, deputy director of the French Erasmus+ agency, the European Union’s program to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe)
Social impact projects about learning to live together, designed by high school students were presented to the forum participants. These projects were submitted to a contest organized by AFS, and five of them received a grant to be implemented. The first prize was awarded to a group of AFSers from Italy, Chile and Peru who plan to create a theatre play with teenagers coming to France with AFS and a group of unaccompanied minor migrants in the north of France. The project will explore the topic of dreams of these young people. Mitrajectoire, an organization that promotes intercultural values, will support the implementation of this project.
AFS Vivre Sans Frontière (AFS France) will continue its efforts to open up to new organizations to exchange methodologies, knowledge and good practices, in order to act and move forward together. Find out more about the forum at its website: forum.afs.fr.