From December 2018 to June 2022, SolidarityNow in partnership with STAR UK provided an innovative interactive and communication experience to its beneficiaries -refugees and asylum seekers- and to students-volunteers.
The aim of the program was on the one hand to challenge students’ daily life regarding stereotypes and prejudices through personal experience, and on the other hand, to strengthen beneficiaries’ knowledge in the Greek and English languages, providing a friendly and safe environment, thus make them feel more confident paving the way of social integration in Greece. Providing support to young refugees by young Greek students was an opportunity for both parties to experience together the importance of equal opportunities in a person’s life.
In the beginning of the program’s implementation, the students-volunteers were mainly from the Universities of Thessaloniki (Aristotle, University of Macedonia, International University of Greece), whereas in March 2020, after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, all actions became digital, fact that led to the expansion of the network to other Universities.
In addition, what was particularly emphasized during the program’s implementation was for refugees and asylum seekers to acquire the ability to take initiatives, not just develop skills. For this purpose, specially designed educational and recreational activities were organized, based on non-formal education, as well as significant partnerships with voluntary university networks. Also, the students-volunteers actively participated in the festival Refugee Week (20-26/6/2022) and in the Thessaloniki Pride Festival (25/6/2022).
Students become the new STARTnow leaders!
In a specifically designed multi-room within the Blue Refugee Center of SolidarityNow in Thessaloniki, students-volunteers will be the ones to continue “STARTnow”, by taking initiatives and interacting directly with the refugee population!
There, they will continue, through Conversation Clubs and other non-formal learning activities, their contact with refugees and asylum seekers, supporting them in learning Greek and English. The primary goal is always the development of language skills, recognizing the important role of language as the unique and essential tool for smooth social inclusion, especially when it is taught through alternative educational methods (discussion, interactive games, audiovisual media) as it suits to the youth!
*The program was implemented by SolidarityNow in partnership with STAR UK.