The Lovers e.V.
This youth empowerment program uses yoga and digital storytelling to connect young refugees with local youth and support their integration. Yoga classes will help participants get to know themselves and each other while unleashing their creativity. They will practice writing and videography skills to share their stories and integration lessons. Local and refugee youth will engage in peer mentoring, documenting their process of achieving personal goals by blogging and developing YouTube videos.
The backlash to Germany’s “welcome culture” has left many refugee youth in limbo, facing integration challenges. Amidst over 1 million new migrants in 2015, an estimated 55% of asylum seekers were younger than their early 20s; many migrated alone. New laws cut their cash assistance and limited access to German classes, vocational training and higher education. Sub-par refugee schools fail to fill the education gap. Youth at English-language schools struggle to learn German and meet local peers.
Through peer mentoring, refugee youth will be able to better navigate new educational and employment systems, and local youth will learn about new cultures and expand their sense of community. Refugee and local youth will develop creative and leadership skills while working to achieve personal goals. A diverse group of young people will build knowledge and relationships that support integration. Videos shared on YouTube will set a positive example that invites participation internationally.
A 10-day camp for a mixed-gender group of 10 refugee and 10 local youth, ages 15-20, will involve:
- Yoga classes to support self-awareness, stress relief and team-building, while exploring nonviolence and compassion.
- Writing workshops to develop their stories.
- Videography sessions with Berlin YouTubers. Youth will create YouTube channels with DIY videos about how to integrate, such as lessons about German or refugees’ cultures/languages.
- A coaching session for participants to set a goal.
Over 6 months, peer mentoring pairs of refugee and local youth will work to achieve their goals. Citizen2be will provide support such as referrals to educational resources. The group will gather at monthly yoga meet-ups and document their progress by blogging and developing YouTube videos.
This project targets refugee and local youth living in Berlin. Many refugee youth have experienced gaps in their education due to conflict and flight. Young refugees often hold the key to their and their families’ integration through education and employment. Connections with their German peers also play a vital role in integration, which requires relationships between newcomers and locals to form a sense of belonging in a shared community. Local youth thus play a key role in this project.
This innovative idea translates the tools of yoga into a youth empowerment opportunity. It draws on the arts to build a platform for youth to share their stories and inspire one another in the process. This approach also aims to address the often ignored power dynamics that can arise between locals and migrants. Instead of focusing on refugees as needy aid recipients, the project shifts the conversation towards mutual learning and connection, planting the seeds for an equal sense of belonging.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe
Material costs: 22.350 EUR. Travel costs for participants 1700 EUR; subsistence costs - food for activities 4200 EUR; event costs - space rental, yoga supplies, video equipment; 12.000 EUR, fees and honoraria for facilitators 3000 EUR; public relations 400 EUR; unforeseen 1100 EUR. Personnel costs: 27.650 EUR
Please let us know what you think and if you're in Berlin, if you'd like to participate! We hope you'll also help us to share the results of this project widely.