Bridges! Not Walls – Migration in Dialogue // Youth Exchange in Merkinė

Bridges! Not Walls – Migration in Dialogue is an 18-month cooperation between Eurobug Youth Work (IE) (Coordinator), Europimpulse Network (ES), Eurobug Lithuania (LT), and CGE Erfurt e.V. (DE) seeking to identify and challenge barriers of access between migrant and civil society, and to network several migrant communities into a transnational network for migrant civic engagement. This project is funded by Leargas through the Erasmus+ program of the European Union. 

As part of this project, we organised a one week youth exchange in Merkinė, Lithuania, where we gathered 21 young people, many with migration backgrounds, for reflection and action on how migration is impacting young people’s identities and communities across Europe. In total, we had participants from 14 different countries, speaking 16 different languages, who each brought a different angle to the dialogues on migration.   

During the week, we connected with the local community of Merkinė by hosting a Living Library in Merkinės Kultūros Centras. Our participants shared their personal migration stories with the locals, spreading conversations and experiences. We had stories from Ghana, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, Portugal, Russia, Romania and Germany. Participants also expressed their thoughts and perspective on migration through artistic means.

To get to know more about our week, you can watch our Youtube video 

About the broader project:

It is partners experience that youth organisations and civil society more broadly often lack the capacities to engage young people from migrant background.

It is important that organisations that are engaging with migrant communities, and organisations that are composed of these communities are empowered to collaborate, cooperate and exchange expertise, so that the unique challenges these communities face can be collectively navigated – so that the unique strengths of these communities can take their valuable place within civic, social, and cultural life. This understanding of the landscape of migrant participation within NGOs/social movements/civil society is the driving motivation behind this project.

Drawing on our experience in this sphere, the consortium submit the solution to this is multifaceted to:

EMPOWER young migrants to lead and create the movements and tools which will overcome their marginalisation

IDENTIFY the barriers young migrants, including refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented young people, are facing while engaging with communities of practice and experience.

BUILD sustainable practices and resources for integration of migrants within democratic life.

The partnership is comprised of young organisations with a genuine interest and commitment to empowering migrant communities and challenging their marginalisation. Within the consortium are two youth organisation, two NGOs with expertise in developing educational programs and e-Learning material. Three partners have ongoing migrant youth projects and a strong history of specialised programs and supports for migrant youth.

This activity was co-funded by Léargas as part of our #BridgesNotWalls #migrationindialogue project, which connects CGE Culture Goes Europe – Soziokulturelle Initiative Erfurt e.V., EUROPIMPULSE and Eurobug Lithuania for 18 months to explore how youth organisations can better empower migrants to be active in civic, social and cultural life!

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