May 26, 2011

Enlightenment 2

Events, IGLYO

Exploring formal education experiences of LGBTQ youth.

This conference will bring together young LGBTQ activists to make contact with eachother, exchange experiences, expertise and good practices, and build each other’scapacity to work on LGBTQ education issues. There will be a specific focus on the experience of LGBTQ youth from Eastern European states.

This will lead to better skilled activists with increased knowledge of strategies to actively challenge discrimination in education settings through positive action and to the creation of strong networks for further activism and projects.

Some of the Conference’s main objectives are:

This event is taking place in Bucharest, Romania.

Saturday 21st

On Saturday, May 21st, IGLYO was welcomed in Bucharest, Romania, by one of our member organizations Accept to host ‘Enlightenment II conference – exploring formal education experiences of LGBTQ youth’.

We have been joined by participants from around the pan-European region.

Over the first day of the conference the participants have been discussing, learning ad sharing experiences about activism, human rights and the fight for equality.

Sessions have included getting to know each other, name-games and ice-breakers and presentations of participants’ countries and organisations. The evening finished with a opening party in one of Bucharest’s LGBTQ clubs.

Sunday 22nd

On Sunday, participants woke bright and early to another beautiful sunny Bucharest morning.

But despite the almost 30 degrees of heat, the conference has once again been working hard and sharing experience from their school years as well as their work in schools and ideas on how to cope with issues such as bullying or teacher training in Europe and within their own countries.

Monday 23rd

We began the morning of the third day of the conference by enjoying the sun while drinking our morning coffee and tea. For the first session, which started with an energizer, we invited three teachers who work with youth and students at the Bucharest University and in one of the local high schools. Participants had a chance to learn more about the educational system in Romania and efforts taken by teachers to introduce topics such as human rights, diversity and LGBTQ issues into the curriculum.

After short presentations a round of questions took place. Most of those concerned the groups which will take part in the workshops facilitated by conference participants but also matters such as religion, politics, sexual education, parental reactions etc.

During the following sessions participants discussed the challenges and difficulties that may occur during the facilitation process. The next hours were devoted to learning how to cope with problems such as language trouble, introducing or creating definitions of certain terms, explaining the complexity of sex, gender and sexual orientation, difficult participants, low group activity and other skills improvement.

The day was concluded by a division into working groups two of which will facilitate workshops for University students and the third one for high school youth and workshop development.

Tuesday 24th

On May 24th the participants woke up early to attend the sessions on skills development and managing behavior. These were followed by several hours of improving workshop plans of the group that were to facilitate workshops for high school and university students the following day.

After lunch each group had a chance to present their work and facilitate the session for other participants. Most of the “students” did almost everything in their power to help their colleagues prepare for extreme conditions: homophobic and transphobic remarks, a bit of hate speech and religious arguments were in use. Luckily the facilitators were able to handle all problematic situations.

The feedback session which came after each workshop enabled the groups to correct any mistakes they may have made during the facilitation process.

During the late evening a Eurovision Song Contest was held for the first time in IGLYO’s history. The juges voted almost unanimously: Ireland’s “Cheap Flights” performed by Fascinating Aida was the winner.

Wednesday 25th

In spite of the fact that the Eurovision Song Contest was followed bycelebrations which finished in the morning, at 9:00 the participants and prep-team were ready to start another day. Two workshops with University students took place in the hotel’s conference room while the third one was held in a high school.

The effort that was put into the development of the workshops and facilitation skills proved to be effective. All groups reached their planned aims. In spite of the participants’ expectations most of the students were highly aware of the problems LGBTQ youth faces everyday but enjoyed non-formal education methods that were presented to them.

Since the whole process was very tiring the prep team decided to grant a free afternoon which was followed by a traditional Romanian dinner served in the restaurant.

Thursday 26th

The final day of the conference begun with a postponed tour of Bucharest. In spite of the fact it was optional most of the participants took part in the tour. After sightseeing most of the old city, including the National Treasury, one of the oldest orthodox churches and Vlad Dracula’s castle, the group visited the Romanian Parliament which is the second largest building in the world.

Walking through 6% of the palace took around three hours but was very fulfilling since the participants decided to do a bit of awareness raising activism during the tour. Several same-sex couples walking holding hands and cuddling, taking photos and discussing took other visitors by surprise.

After coming back to the hotel the last part of the conference started. Sessions about strategic action planning were full of focus and hard work. Evaluation and message writing were the final points of the official part of the day.

Participants and prep team spent the last evening on a fancy dinner in the old town followed by a party. This was their last chance to bond and prepare to say goodbye.

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