Socio-cultural Youth Learning in Mobility Societies (SLYMS) is a three-year research program, which began in July 2018, funded by the European Commission and supported by ERASMUS+. Universities, Municipalities and NGOs from the 3 European countries (Greece, Spain, Portugal) are all partners of the program. The program is mainly for refugees and immigrant populations. In particular, it focuses on young refugees, as they are currently the biggest challenge.
The research aims at designing and implementing a modern, functional and efficient social model of integration and participation, based on the principles of multicultural education and the logic previous models. SLYMS research centers around the inclusion of mobile populations, with the intention of integration from the base of the community – the Municipality. As well as using previous scientific research, educational knowledge and field experience to do so, personal experiences, knowledge and abilities of the travelling people are also taken into account.
SLYMS is trying to redefine and reinvent interculturalism and public participation; and shape a more holistic pedagogy capable of contributing to and essentially building pluralistic host communities with characteristics such as reciprocity, cooperation and understanding.
Implementation of SLYMS is dependent on the good practices of a network of social partners attempting to take advantage of social inclusion activities, solidarity, and resilience models of modern cities and societies. More specifically, SLYMS is based on various recognized social and cultural organizations and educational practices such as the Multilingual Holidays of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, Kozani and Larissa; Coffee Multilingual; and the pluralistic tool – Awakening in Languages and Cultures.
Our methodological tools are based on the original evolutionary model of Training-Reflection-Action (A. Moumtzidou, 2016). This models the co-shaping of trainers, institutions, citizens and students understanding and attitudes towards the public; the emergence, cultivation and learning of intercultural skills and socio-educational strategies of integration; and, the process of inspiring educators, institutions and citizens to critically reflect upon their capacity to manage their own cultural capital in modern changing societies.
The further development of a training and educational material which incorporates the values, cognitive patterns and requirements of various cultures and languages is really vital and would contribute to the cohesion of school curricula and the teaching of social skills and intercultural practices towards one more inclusive, innovative and socially accessible pedagogy. Therefore, we are seeking to create a more flexible education, which will be reflective, alert and continuous.
Moreover, the emergence of new skills developed by Young Trainers along with the development of their own intercultural empathy is a predominant aspect of SLYMS. In particular, field researchers, education specialists, linguists, educators, social anthropologists, sociologists and social psychologists are all involved in SLYMS.
The SLYMS research program will be implemented in schools, Refugee Hospitality Centers, Youth Hostels and Support Centers of the NGO ARSIS, vulnerable Youth groups supported by street social workers, and NGOs’ and municipalities’ educational programs.
In addition, project volunteers, teachers, non-native language-speaking communities, cultural institutions, students, NGO trainers and the general public who participate in Multilingual Celebrations or social movements, or work with young people will be able to acquire specific SLYMS training.
The program will be developed in six phases:
Phase 1: Quantitative / qualitative research Knowledge will be obtained with regards to informal learning and the role of social events at a grass-roots level (The Municipality) and the culture and identity of young refugees (values, attitudes, experiences, trends, needs, demands, expectations and desires) in today’s pluralistic societies. For example, it is important to consider which language they want to learn and which skills they want to develop or cultivate, but it is also important to note the emergence of new skills through the participation of young people and trainers/volunteers in Multilingual Celebrations and how they relate to the model of development of Multilingual Celebrations. We will report skills of intercultural sensitivity, communication and critical literacy in order to redefine dominant social concerns about racism, immigration, multiculturalism.
Phase 2: Design of SLYMS – experts, researchers, experienced teams, refugees, youth workers, translators, representatives of refugees and mediators will all be involved.
Learning through social events, the discovery of informal learning pathways, and the development of multicultural awareness on issues of identity which, among other things, relate to language, religion, age and sex will be depicted.
Phase 3: Application of SLYMS tools and assessment of skills will be obtained.
Phase 4: Reflection of the Program’s functionality and results (involving young volunteers / refugees).
Phase 5: Proposals for reforms in education and social policy including the role of social events in informal learning and the integration of refugees in school and the city.
Phase 6: Dissemination – social and cultural events, festivals, conferences and publications.