Intercultural Dialogue Day 2017

Mansur Alam (EIL Explore Winner 2017) and Nikki Chatham (EIL Network Volunteer) celebrating IDD 2017IDD 2017 signWalking Debate - IDD 2017Walking Debate - IDD 2017 - find your feet and your voice!Walking Debate - IDD 2017 - find your feet and your voice!Deirdre McAdams & Rachel Maher - EIL Network VolunteersEIL Ireland IDD 2017

Find your voice and find your feet!


On Intercultural Dialogue Day (in 2017 on the 28 September) local volunteers organise public events to promote intercultural dialogue through youth exchanges, volunteering, and active citizenship. This year's theme is “Inclusive intercultural learning: exchange organisations contributing to equal opportunities for young people”.

An European Federation of Intercultural Learning (EFIL) bottom-up initative, IDD is a volunteer focused series of projects all over Europe, where AFS volunteers at local level are encouraged to organise events in their own communities. These event vary in size and scale, but not in enthusiasm :) Coffee mornings, school workshops, public street actions, tresaure hunts, table quizes, book readings, language exchanges, outreach events, the list goes on! From Sweden to Serbia, from Iceland to Italy, people interested in promoting diversity and intercultural learning are getting out into their community and sharing their enthusiasm for active citizenship & peace in our world.

And this year, Ireland are getting in the game!!

Activity: 'Walking Debate'

Audience: Participants at an EIL introduction event

Number of Participants: 20

Number of Volunteers: 5 (Nikki, Rachel, Aoibhinn, Deirdre & Jorge )

What did we want to achieve? We wanted to organise an event to inspire people on active citizenship & social justice issues and to get them talking about their intercultural experiences.

So what happened? : Using non-formal learning methods, we decided to engage the audience to voice their opinions with their feet :) All participants were invited to freely move around a room in responce to a series of social justice statements. If they agreed with a statement individuals would move to the left of the room, if they disagreed, to the right. If they were conflicted, or needed more information, they were encouraged to take a position inbetween and ask questions! This resulted in each statement being engaged with by bodies, minds and voices :) Colourful discussions, opinions, examples and personal experiences were shared on topics such a

  • It is important to keep traditions from different cultures alive - Agree/Disagree
  • I have a good idea of what I can do to make the world or my community a better place to live - Agree/Disagree
  • People who volunteer overseas have a responsibility to become active for global justice when they return home - Agree/Disagree

How did we do it, step by step, leading up of the event? We had a slot in a large workshop weekend, so we worked out an activity to fit the time. We pinnned down what we wanted to achieve (inspiration & dialogue) and brainstormed interactive fun activities that would get people talking :) We worked together to make a list of the topics we wanted to cover. We worked out the practical tasks of who would do the introductions, lead the activity or be the photographer. We prepared our social justice statements and agreed on the best way to pose open questions, to maximise interaction and debate :)

On the day? We were very happy our time slot was running on time, so we did not have to change much of our preparation on the day. Rachel led the activity, explaining how it worked to the audience. Rachel & Deirdre read our the statements, Nikki & Aoibhinn faciltiated the discussions on each topic and Jorge took some great photos 

Something that worked well...  The physical nature of the activity was great, as it got people up and moving after lunch. When you have space and freedom to move, people can get very animated and enthusiastic in the body language! You can really see people's passion about the topics :)

Something to pay attention to in the future... Time management! When you have open discussions, it can be pretty hard to cut people short when they are in full passionate debate. Keeping an eye on the clock was important. Maybe the next time, we will cut back on the number of questions posed, and allow long discussions emerge.

Something we learned.... That the way questions are phrased can have a big impact on how they are understood. People interpret statements and questions in different ways. Language, tone and the dynamic of the group can have a big impact on discussions.  Also some topics are more sensitive to some people. Reactions can be passionate but also quiet passive. It was an intercultural learning expereience in itself! 

What were the outcomes of the event, what did we achieve? We are happy that we acheived our objective, we wanted debate and that's what we got! The participants really engaged with the topics, told some great stories and insights from the experiences abroad volunteering and living around the world.

This is only the beginning of our Intercultural Dialogue Day story :) Roll on 2018!

IDD Toolkit - to support you in planning your event! 

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