The Nonformal Education Laboratory: #NoHate
During the 4th and 11th of September 2016, at Izvoru Mureșului (Romania) took place the 7th edition of the Nonformal Education Laboratory and it was organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports; its main theme was Human Rights and the No Hate Speech Campaign.
With the relaunching of the No Hate Campaign, this year the Nonformal Laboratory set out to discuss through various workshops the theme of #NoHate and promote respect for diversity while mobilizing the community that works for combating hate speech in the public sector, in order to diminish discrimination and other forms of exclusion or violence. As such, the Nonformal Education Laboratory offered this year a learning environment in which about 90 youth, students, professors/teachers, activists and youth workers had the opportunity to experiment with 15 nonformal methods as well as organize a practical application of these methods through public demonstrations, with the purpose of provoking dialogue or self-discovery, bringing into the spotlight the challenges that Romanian and European societies now face.
During the event there were also representatives of the civil society invited, as well as members of relevant institutions and those of the National Committee for Coordinating the No Hate Campaign in Romania, that work to fight, monitor and even sanction discriminatory instances in Romania.
Each method tried to approach as open as possible relevant themes. For instance, the team from the Forum Theatre, a form of social intervention that combines theatre with the ideas and opinions of a forum, tried to engage the public to discuss about the discrimination of Roma youth in schools, biased teachers and ignored students, invisible to families and society, interethnic marriages or the role of women in society. Those present at the play had the opportunity to intervene and replace certain characters (as long as it wasn’t the character of the oppressor) and modify their lines in order to change the outcome and to improve the situation.
On the other hand, during the Nonviolent Communication Workshop, participants learned that conflict is natural, it is something that happens, whereas violence that is evoked from a conflict can be avoided, and the method proposes 4 steps in doing so: Observation, Sentiment, Need and Request-Invitation. Nonviolent Communication is a language that connects people, and is capable of awakening empathy and goes beyond prejudices. In order to do so, it is important to listen actively, to be willing to receive/hear things one may not agree with, and to be willing to exchange or receive feedback.
During the Living Exhibition method, one of the more active and visual methods, encouraged dialogue in a public space and both ”exhibits” and spectators alike promoted the message ”Sanction racism, don’t encourage it!”
The Nonformal Laboratory is an event that gives participants the necessary tools and personal motivation in order to take action and create change in one’s own community and, as such, transfers to the participants the capacity of changing Romania through learning.
Andra Camelia Cordoș,
Member of the National Committee for Coordinating the No Hate Campaign in Romania