I am Andreu, I am 24 years old and this month I had the opportunity to participate in a study visit in Brussels under the project “MOOC – Minorities as occasion and opportunity for Chrysalis”. The main objective of this project is to create an online course on methodologies for working with intercultural groups and/or involving different minorities (refugees, young offenders, geographically isolated communities, victims of gender violence, people with functional diversity, etc.) addressed mainly to teachers and educators.
In this visit, which took place from 7 to 14 June, a total of 7 organizations participated: two Italians, two Portuguese, one Belgian, one Austrian and one Catalan, the Fundació Catalunya Voluntària, which I represented. Therefore, this multicultural team of 7 people visited various different organizations in the Belgian capital working with different minorities to collect as much information as possible for the preparation of the massive open online course.
The first visit was in a youth center, located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Brussels, mostly inhabited by immigrant and refugee families. There we were able to interview the director and two educators of the center, who explained the difficulties of working with young people at risk of social exclusion, apart from the type of activities they do and the center’s educational approach. We could also talk to Hamza, a 15-year-old boy, who appreciated attending the center’s activities by being with other kids his age, making friends and having fun.
The second day was more intense, as we visited three organizations: first, an association that promotes proximity consumption, organic farming and green policies at the local level; a center/residence for people with physical disabilities, whose families cannot be held responsible; and an organization that works for the social integration of people with mental disabilities.
The last two days we visited an organization that promotes international mobility between young people and adolescents and a “squatter house” constituted as an association that welcomes people with difficulties: homeless, artists, students, travelers or emigrants without papers, among others.
In short, it was a very intense visit but no less interesting, since although the organizations we visited differed considerably from one another, they all shared certain values, such as tolerance, respect, altruism, solidarity and struggle for the common good and the rights of all people. I am therefore grateful for the opportunity given me by the Fundació Catalunya Voluntària to have been able to get to know the Belgian capital and to approach its society from the point of view of the social work, something that has made me grow interest and motivation for other projects similar to that one.