I was one of the 10 participants who volunteered to be part of the Exchange programme in Valencia, Spain. This was a one-week programme, which allowed students from the UK, Spain and Morocco to collaborate with each other in order to work together with regards to human rights. This one week was designed to promote human rights message using photography, music, drama, talking and workshops. In addition, it was the holy month of Ramadan and I was fasting throughout the duration of my participation in this programme.
However, due to the EU not granting visas to Moroccans, they were not able to be part of the programme but we all managed to shoot a video for them to let them know how much we missed them!
Day 1 - icebreaker
Upon my arrival in Valencia, I managed to get to the hostel and met one of my colleague in the room whilst others went to tour round Valencia town. After everyone arrived, we all met in a room where all UK participants and Spain participants were present and were given the opportunity to introduce ourselves. The icebreaker really helped everyone to start talking to each other so that the week coming should be full of fun and enthusiasm.
Day 2 – thinking hats
This workshop was designed by our UK coordinator, Charlotte Joyce. It highlighted the way we think as individuals about human rights violations. Colours were used to highlight emotions, for example blue represents calmness. We, as a group, were given sticky notes to think about human rights issues and their solutions. The topics were optional and could choose any topic about human rights. My team chose topic about refugees dying on Mediterranean Sea when crossing borders. We all came up with different suggestions depending on the colour of the hat and it was amazing to see the result and what others thought about it.
This workshop really helped UK and Spanish students to collaborate with each other and think of solutions. This not only created a bond professionally, but also became friends. All groups presented their work and this gave everyone a great opportunity to comment and reflect upon each other’s work.
Day 3 – Valencia tour and human rights discussions
The Valencia tour was hosted by the Spanish coordinator, Eva, and the day started by doing an icebreaker activity designed by the Spanish students. This activity involved matching our description with someone with the same description and say one unique thing about each other. This was a very funny activity as it made UK and Spanish students to talk to each other on a personal level and also have a little giggle.
After the activity, we all went to the museum where the history of Christianity and work of art was thoroughly explained. I really enjoyed the tour as I am always interested in the history of a certain city and having known that famous artists in this world have come from Valencia really made me feel good.
After the tour, we all made our way to the university, where an activity was designed by Eva and the activity involved talking about human rights issues around the world. The main theme echoed at the time was the fact the EU rejected visas for Moroccans in order to participate in this programme. It was a really good discussion where everyone had different views and thoughts about the possible threats and risks associated to illegal migration. The EU must have feared that the Moroccans may stay over and may not return. Further issues were explored and had a very thorough discussion about this.
Day 4- Albinism workshop
I think this day was the best day of the week.
The day started with a workshop delivered by two inspirational people. The activity surrounded how people in power can work together for the benefit of civilians. Each person in the group was given a character and had to persuade local businesses to give up their assets to the powerful people like the banker and mayor. This activity was based on votes and looking at different perspectives and benefits to each working group. It allowed everyone to work together and negotiate and come up to an agreement. I learnt from this workshop that taking to each other can solve many problems, rather than shouting and fighting. A very positive message conveyed.
After that workshop, a workshop focussing on Albinism was delivered by Ana. This workshop made me realise how fortunate I am as a human being, whereas people on the other side of the world are getting killed because of their different skin colour and appearance due to genetic disorder. From the start of the workshop, I could not help but cry throughout the two hours. I really connected with this workshop as I am from Malawi, Africa and I know the mentality and cultural importance in African societies. However, I never knew the severity of Albinism in Senegal until the talk was delivered.
It was an eye opening experience to see that racial discrimination still exists in some parts of the world and risks valuable lives of others. This made me feel grateful by the privileges I have been granted by living in the UK and aspired me to do something about it by helping others. Overall, very inspirational.
Day 5 – movie and photography workshop
This was a very unique and fun day.
First of all, we all met up at a photography studio and were given a task to take pictures, which would tell a story about the area. We all went to an area called Cabanyal and we saw the good and bad side of that area. I took pictures which I thought told a story and had to select 5 pictures and send it to Charlotte. My comments were much appreciated and everyone really liked it.
After the workshop, we all went back to the university and watch a movie of a man who wanted to promote ‘Peace One Day’ in the world and saw his journey. It was a very inspirational story where a normal man faced failures, no support from family, financial dependence and closed doors everywhere. He finally managed to have a ‘peace one day’ as a public holiday in this world and his journey was very inspirational.
Overall, I have learnt that a positive message can be conveyed through photography and movies, which I had not thought about it before. I really enjoyed my experience in doing photography and realised how much I enjoyed clicking pictures. This has become one of my hobbies, which I enjoy practicing regularly.
Day 6 – journey back home
By this time, all UK and Spanish participants had really connected with each other and it was a tough task to say goodbye.
In conclusion, I had a fantastic week in Valencia. I learnt so much about issues surrounding human rights in this world and finding solutions, which can be workable in the real world. I created very warm bondings with UK participants as well as the Spanish participants. I am still in contact with them via Facebook and WhatsApp. I have not only learnt about human rights, but also made lifetime friends.
Thank you very much for this opportunity Nukanti, and I look forward to being part for many future projects.