The “SOUND!” workshops were held at Gribskov Centre in Denmark, on 7 and 10 March 2018. They were organised by Othernessproject in the frame of YOU ARE WELCOME, a Europe for Citizens project. Dr. Rita Júlia Sebestyén led the activities with the help of Lisbeth Eckhard-Hansen (lead organiser from Gribskov) and Marin Hermanssdottir.
We contacted the Red Cross Centre for Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in Gribskov, halfway between Copenhagen and Denmark, where unaccompanied refugee minors are collected, given accommodation and at least basic level education – focussing on learning Danish – and, through the relentless work of the social workers, an impressive number of sports, artistic and socialising events are organised on a volunteer basis.
The participants were twelve residents of the Gribskov Centre, twelve students from Nordsjællands Efterskole, social workers, teachers from both institutions.
The main aims of the workshop were to facilitate self-awareness, self-expression, empowerment; to foster teamwork in temporary communities; to raise empathy, awareness of one’s own emotions and feelings and appropriate reaction to others’ emotions and feelings; and to facilitate establishing connection and communication even with the minimum knowledge of the language spoken.
We wanted to implicitly raise several questions in order to make the attendants reflect on them. These questions were:
- How can we relate within a short time, how can we communicate, if our background is different and we do not even speak the same language?
- Are we curious about each other at all? If yes, how do we pose questions and how do we answer them?
- How do we tell our own stories and what kind of stories do we tell about ourselves?
- How do we ask the others about their stories, and what kind of other stories will we be able to process and understand? Whom can we empathise with and why?
- How can we get more empathetic and communicative?
The endless series of questions were not answered, not even asked. This time, we inhabited the space, we moved around, we perceived it and ourselves and each other. Movements, gestures and sound became of high importance in establishing connection. Sounds, the beat of the drums were able to express a wide range of emotions, feelings and could even tell simple stories. Owning stories and narratives are the cornerstone of empowerment, self-empowerment and the ability to relate.
Othernessproject has its own methodology: Otherness Dialogues, developed for mixed communities, aiming towards effective collaboration, empathy, communication and co-creation through the means of personal storytelling, performing arts and installation.
The workshop reached its aim: the residents of the Gribskov Centre opened up and became fully-fledged participants in the games and activities. Together with the students of Nordsjællands Efterskole, they formed a temporary, cheerful and communicative community. All of this occurred in spite of the language barriers and they became aware of their values, reinforced in their rights as humans to equally take part in communities, and discovered various ways of peaceful communication without words.