– Discrimination

The International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim/ Auschwitz and the International Forum Burg Liebenzell are glad to invite students from Germany, Poland and Ukraine to the trilateral educational project. While last year’s fall session in Oświęcim/ Auschwitz focused on the issue of migration and asylum in a predominantly historical perspective, the spring session to be held at the International Forum Burg Liebenzell will concentrate on current developments, challenges and approaches to deal with an increased number of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, especially in Germany.

13.11.-19.11.2016, IYMC Oświęcim/Auschwitz
IYMC Oświęcim/Auschwitz, Stätte der Begegnung e.V., State Pedagogical University in Kirovohrad/ Kropyvnytsky
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„Learning from History: Discrimination”
A German-Polish-Ukrainian student seminar

November is usually the greyest and dullest month of the year. But not in the International Youth Meeting Centre, where from the 13th to the 19th of November the students from Poland, Germany and Ukraine took part in the new edition of the “Learning from History” seminar. This year’s meeting was dedicated to the issue of discrimination in the historical and contemporary perspective.


Of course, as every meeting the seminar started with getting to know each other, the expectations and the place, where it was going to take place. During the exercises the participants could share interesting facts about themselves and discuss different aspects of their cultures. The guided tour around the town of Oświęcim was conducted by the ARSP volunteer of the IYMC Jevheniia Kifenko, who presented the 800-year history of the town. Afterwards the participants discussed the darkest page of Oświęcim’s history – the functioning of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz and this way prepared for the visit at the Memorial.

Visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial was a difficult but valuable experience. The students could see the authentic place, ask questions and touch upon the tragic history, which happened there more that seventy years ago. During the thematic workshops afterwards the group discussed the persecution of particular groups in the III Reich and established a connection between Auschwitz and the broader context of institutionalized discrimination at that time. This activity helped to see the multiple nature of Auschwitz and bring the forgotten or marginalized victim groups into the discussion. During the reflection round one of the participants noticed: “In this dark history I have found an impulse for myself, and that’s the impulse to do something today to make the world better”.

It is impossible to talk about discrimination in the historical perspective without connecting it to the machinery of discrimination nowadays. Within the workshops about the contemporary mechanisms of social categorization, forming prejudice attitudes, discriminating on different bases, and exclusion, the students worked with the “Stories that Move” toolbox against discrimination, which makes use of videos with young people talking about their experiences and reflections about the issue. The work was absorbing and abounded in lively and inspiring discussions. It also brought home to many participants the complexity of the issue under discussion and the difficulty of finding an effective solution.

The final part of the seminar consisted in putting the thoughts and reflections into the graphic form of posters. Ewa Natkaniec, who conducted the poster workshop, helped the students to collect their thoughts and organize them into graphic messages. The results have turned out to be fascinating and diverse. “I haven’t expected that it will turn out to look so great!” – shared one of the participants. “This was a totally new experience for me, which showed that I can also be creative in such a way” – added another.

The issue of discrimination turned out to be an urgent matter, which provokes heated discussions about its nature as well as the ways of counteraction. Hopefully, the seminar will give the students inspiration for combating discrimination and seeing the world in a more complex way.

The project was organized by the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim in cooperation with the Stätte der Begegnung e.V. and realized thanks to the financial support of the German-Polish Youth Office and the FIJA Foundation.

FIJA logo

Nataliia Tkachenko, MDSM

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