On the 17th of March our journey started in Budapest, where we were participants in the seminar, „Beyond Roma and Diversity: Phiren Amenca Study Session on Gender, Multiple Discrimination and Intersectionality”. We were a group of young Roma and non-Roma volunteers. We were all anxious to meet and willing to learn new things. From the first day, I was pleasantly surprised by the expectations of the participants: to learn more about the work in Roma communities; how to fight against discrimination and stereotypes; learn more about gender & intersectionality and also how they can contribute throughout the week in this seminar; to share experiences from their work, and also to discuss relevant topics.
Most of the people said: „I don’t have any fear about the seminar.” I think our main fear was that what we’d learn during the seminar wouldn’t work in our comunities, and that it would b difficult to put the theories in to practice. Even if we saw that we have these fears, we had and we have confidence that we can make a difference in the near future. Maria, one of our trainers, helped us to leave aside our fears to trust in our capabilities, to be open to new experience and people, to have empathy, a sense of humor, trust, respect, a good attitude, flexibility, and to have patience.
After the first day time was flying so fast, we learned how to work together and to have good cooperation among us through the activities chosen by our trainers. We discussed different topics such as Roma identity and stereotypes, gender & sex, sexism, masculinity & feminity, and Intersectionality. We had the pleasure to meet guests from different organizations and initiatives that are fighting against gender based discrimination and are promoting equal rights. The organisations and initiatives were: ARA Art (Czech Republic), TransVanilla from Hungary, Romedia Foundation, Phiren Amenca, Tudásklaszter and the Council of Europe. We had the opportunity to talk with them and to get to know the work of their organizations.
Of all of the activities, I liked most the "Forum Theatre". Before the game we chose three personal stories in relation to discrimination. The first team had to play a scene where three women were attacked in a bus in Slovakia because they were speaking in Hungarian. A second performance was about a boy who is gay and goes to an interview. He is rejected for employment even though he had all the skills because of his sexual orientation. The third team staged a situation where a young Roma, after saying goodbye to his friends, goes alone on the way home. Then he noticed that a man with a metal object in his hands looked at him, moving the metal object to intimidate the boy. During these scenes, any member of the audience was allowed to shout „STOP!”, step forward and take the place of one of the oppressed characters, showing how they could change the situation to enable a different outcome. Several alternatives were explored by the participants to resolve the situation and the other actors remained in character, improvising their responses. I liked when non-Roma participants changed the problem in a good way for the Roma boy in the third scene. From the theatrical game I understand if you are neutral in situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the opressor. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.
We were a united and open group and at the end of the seminar I was able to understand that our generation can change things in a better way , to fight against discrimination and challenge stereotypes. One person can’t change the world, but together we can make it a better place.
In my opinion it is important to support those who are discriminated against, but we should also focus on the ones who discriminate, especially among young people.
Discrimination starts and ends with us.