21st March – Svitac (Firefly) Against Racism 2018
This year anti-racism week was celebrated around the world from March 19-23, with the Anti-Racism Day being on March 21st. Here at Svitac (Firefly), we celebrated with a full week of activities in the mornings and afternoons with our participants. While exploring the important topic of racism, we also delved into topics such as bullying, prejudice, stereotyping and much more. The activities were planned by our two interns, but executed by the hard work of our international and local volunteers.
As always, our morning workshops take place from 11:00 until 13:00, and are intended for our youngest participants (aged 4-7). To talk to very young children about racism, we decided it would be most effective and engaging to demonstrate the topic through arts and crafts. On Monday, our activity was creating personal flowers where the participants drew themselves in the center and parts of themselves on the petals, they then shared with each other and talked about how they are still all flowers. On Tuesday, we read “The Ugly Duckling” together and talked about how it is wrong to exclude others based on what they look like. On Wednesday, which is anti-racism day, we made a beautiful crayon box by having each participant decorate a crayon stencil however they wished, and posting them all together — this was an excellent visual reminder of how different appearances don’t change who we are. On Thursday, we played with different pastas (shapes and colors) to again talk about why differences are not a negative thing, and then we made “macaroni art”. To finish off a week of fun and art, we watched cartoons that focused on anti-racism and anti-discrimination!
Our afternoon workshops took place from 14:00-15:30 and are intended for our older participants (aged 8+). Our participants were able to speak in-depth about racism with a combination of discussions and creative workshops. We began the week by asking the question “Why do we look so different but are all the same?”. We spoke about how we all have common ancestry and look different but our biology is the same. On Tuesday, we had our creative workshop title “The Universal Person” where we cut out body parts from magazines to create a racially diverse human. On Wednesday (Anti-Racism Day) we had our discussion on stereotypes with participants, local and international volunteers. We spoke about the dangers of negative stereotypes and how to combat them. On Thursday we had a discussion and creative workshop titled “Speak Up! Act!” where our participants discussed bullying in their lives and were given advice on how to react in a constructive way. They created comic strips about an instance of bullying and how they would resolve it peacefully. Participants finished off the week by making a poster about what they learnt. The result was a painting of “One Race”, a diverse person that showed the beauty of diversity in humans.
To wrap up this exciting week we hosted a movie night with special high school guests from Gornji Vakuf Uskoplje (town in Bosnia). They came for a cultural exchange and to speak about the “two schools under one roof” phenomenon. Along with 40 other participants we viewed the film American History X (1998). The story of a young high school student who struggled with ideas of racism, fascism and hatred resonated with all. The film was a perfect segway to a round table discussion which was held with the high school guests, local and international volunteers. Personal experiences with racism, intolerance and ideas about the future of youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina were shared and discussed.
Anti-racism week is one of the many important international events Svitac (Firefly) recognizes and celebrates with our participants. The focus of our work in Brčko is on the positive aspects of multi-ethnic communities and post-conflict work, and anti-racism is an essential component of this. We were happy to talk about this issue with our participants, and even more happy to hear the things they had learned and took away from this week of activities.