With everything happening with the world nowadays and for the past year, we are now, more than every reminded of the need to build more inclusive, respectfully, judge-free world, where we appreciate diversity and fight towards equality for everyone.
Having that in mind, the Erasmus + projects are a powerful tool for fighting racism, prejudice and stereotypes.
The non-formal cross- cultural activities help up broaden our worldview, broaden our horizons, challenge stereotypes, and boost skills such as respect, tolerance, understanding towards everyone.
Amongst the many insightful reflections made by Nelson Mandela on the topic of racism, this particular quote stands out: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate…”.
Children come into this world without prejudice but run the risk of growing up into racist adults. They may pick up stereotypes from their surroundings and influences, or emulate the racist behaviors built into our society; behaviours that are not regarded as offensive by many, but truly are for the racialised individuals who endure them every day.
On the other hand, the phrase “racism is cured by traveling” is more than true. By traveling in foreign places, meeting new people, discovering their culture and tradition, we fight racism, we break stereotypes and we create a judge free Erasmus + world, where everyone is appreciated and welcomed.
Erasmus + projects evoke the spirit of what enriching travel is supposed to look like. They provide unique experience-based learning opportunities that enhance education at all levels.
Now is a good time to go back to Nelson Mandela’s wise words to see how he ended his statement. He said: “…if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love”.
And of course, Erasmus + opens our minds by engaging us in realities that we are unaware of, that we thought were strange or even scary. By interacting with a new reality in this way, our worldviews are transformed: we no longer consider what is ours to be above all else. Rather, we come to understand that what is ours may be what we like best, but that everything else is just as valid and can even be enriching to experience.
By stepping outside our comfort zone, we are able to question aspects of life that we had always taken for granted. Soaking up new languages, distinct ways of life, unique values and unfamiliar traditions helps us to understand that every culture and community is different, which enriches our outlook on life.
Erasmus + motivates us to take another look at our own values and to evolve. Every human being shares at least one life goal: to grow as a person and learn something new from every life experience. Intercultural exchanges can help by giving us a great boost in the right direction!
Beyond discovering cultural differences, exchanges can also help us to realize and understand that all humans are quite similar too. Embracing our diversity as a species and accepting that we are one human race is the only path towards a deeper understanding and a much more diverse, tolerant world.
Erasmus + gives us the strength to tear down the mental walls keeping us from experiencing cultures, religions and traditions that differ from our own. What’s more, we are able to see for ourselves that most people are brimming with kindness and wisdom, and that is what truly unites us all.