Hate speech has a significant impact on people, as it increases cases of low self-esteem, anxiety, and even suicide. Unfortunately, the amount of such cases seems to increase together with the use of social media. That is why, for one week, from the18th till the 26th of April, Armenian Progressive Youth NGO jointly with 10 organizations has been running a compelling Training Course in Dilijan for 30 young people, youth workers, and educators from the EU (Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece) and Neighboring Partner countries (Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine).
Dilijan is surrounded by a national park, and close to several lakes that the group has explored together. This helped to create an open environment for our participants to speak freely about personal experiences of hate speech.
The training course has taken participants on an interactive, action-oriented journey in countering hate speech. The course aimed to develop the competencies of young people to combat hate speech online and offline by giving them an opportunity to be part of different sessions such as on, media literacy, fact-checking, online data protection, social media campaigns, podcasting, and much more. Participants gained an understanding of what hate speech is (and what is not); the various forms it can take; its causes and consequences.
Participants were addressing the effects of hate speech, such as the exclusion of immigrants, the discrimination against LGTBQIA+, and the inequality between women and men. This was done by role-playing and sharing personal stories. By doing so, the group got a better understanding of the different situations people found themselves in.
As an effect, the group came up with several tools. For example, youth workers from Belarus, Denmark, Greece, and Italy talked about their personal experiences with hate speech against immigrants in a podcast. Another example was the photo campaign, to show the support from youth workers across several countries to counter hate speech towards immigrants. It even led to a flash mob, in the center of Dilijan!
The project also consisted of several intercultural nights during which all the participants could represent their country and culture. This resulted in the group learning several traditional dances, eating food from all over Europe, and having a greater knowledge of the participating countries. For example, did you know that Easter is celebrated on different dates across Europe? And that meatballs with spaghetti are not Italian but American?
All in all, CONNECT – countering hate speech was a great success. This was because of our great trainers, provided by Nous NGO and APY, and the youth workers from Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Armenia, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine.
We hope that you as a reader, have become enthusiastic about this project as much as we are. If you are interested in applying for one of our next projects, follow our Instagram and Facebook pages for more information.