The activity was initially planned to be implemented in March – May 2020, at the headquarters of the Buziaş Educational Center in Buziaş town, Timis county, by two Researchers and trainers of WUT – Baciu Elena-Loreni and Loredana Trancă – and 17 volunteer students from the Faculty of Sociology and Psychology, Department of Social Work together with the young Roma sentenced to prison in Buzias Center.
The purpose of the workshops was to enable participants (students and young Roma prisoners) to co-create common spaces of shared meanings and direct intercultural experiences meant to dissolve the symbolic boundries between Roma and non-Roma cultures.
However, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Romanian National Authorities released a series of Orders, among which the closure of detention centers. The activity was postponed for October.
Due to the fact that, in October, the detention centers were still closed, we decided, at the recommendation of our partner (Buzias Educational Centre) to organize the workshops in an on-line format, using Zoom platform.
The 6 workshops were planned to be held weekly, between 23rd of October and 27 of November 2020, with the Performance (D4.4) planned for 4th of December 2020. However, due to a quarantinne situation within the Centre (during which the young prisoners could not attend to any events), the period of delivery for the workshops was extended until 8th of January 2021.
Therefore, the 6 workshops were organized between 23rd of October 2020 and 8th of January 2021, each session with a duration of 3 hours, and were attended by the 17 volunteer students enrolled in the project and between 6 and 10 young Roma prisoners. Initially, 10 young Roma prisoners were selected and attended the workshops 1 and 2, but later in the program, due to internal regulations regarding the limitation of the number of prisoners that can attend group activities, the number of youngsters was reduced to 7 and, later, to 6.
The topics covered during the workshops were:
1. Let’s get to know each other – October 23, 2020. The purpose of this activity was to get to know each other the young Roma from the Buziaș Educational Center and the students, from West University of Timișoara as well as to create an atmosphere of openness for common spaces. The students implemented interpersonal knowledge games and activities to discover personal skills of the other participants, in order to create common spaces between them. The workshop was attended by 30 participants and was coordinated by 4 students.
2. Halloween – October 30, 2020. The purpose of this activity was to create a specific atmosphere for the Halloween holiday in which to create common spaces between young people from the Buziaș Educational Center and students from the West University of Timisoara. The activities proposed by the students contributed to stimulate the creativity of the participants, by painting masks and creating group stories representative of the Halloween context. The participants turned into “magicians of good deeds”, and represented through graphic symbols projections related to their personal future. The workshop was attended by 28 participants and was coordinated by 3 students.
3. Music and dance – November 6, 2020. The purpose of this activity was to create common spaces between young people from the Buziaș Educational Center and students from the West University of Timisoara through music and dance. In the first part of the workshop, the participants did a karaoke, and later they responded to challenges such as: singing, dancing or mimicking different song. The workshop was attended by 25 participants and was coordinated by 2 students.
4. Emotions and feelings: Goodwill and tolerance – November 13, 2020. The purpose of this workshop was to celebrate the International Day of Goodwill. Games and exercises were combined with the experience of a painting session and structured discussions about emotions and feelings, the last part focusing on initiating the changes they could make on a personal / social / cultural / etc. both young people from the Buzias Educational Center and students from the West University of Timisoara. The workshop was attended by 22 participants and was coordinated by 5 students.
5. Places, things and activities that I like – January 8, 2021. The purpose of this activity was to be aware of the personal states of the participants in recalling positive aspects of their past and present and to know their limits compared with the projection of aspects of interest in the future. The workshop was attended by 23 participants and was coordinated by 2 students.
6. The Treasure Box – January 8, 2021. The purpose of this activity was to capitalize on the skills discovered or developed during previous workshops and to set goals for the coming years, after release from the Buziaș Educational Center (for deprived of liberty young Roma) and after completing undergraduate studies (for students from Social Work specialization. The workshop was attended by 23 participants and was coordinated by 2 students.
As a result of these workshops the students and the young Roma prisoners developed close relationships and acquired knowledge, competences and values on interculturality, co-creation of shared understandings, equal opportunities and anti-discrimination.