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Cultural diversity


Today's world can be described as a "global village". Despite the growing potential for contacts between people of different origins and backgrounds, the level of understanding amongst the different cultures in the world remains insufficient and provokes conflict.

CCIVS and cultural diversity:

Our understanding of cultural diversity is based on UNESCO's approach of the concept. According to the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted by UNESCO in 2001, it is crucial to foster awareness of the added positive value of cultural diversity.

The challenge lies in the understanding that pluralism is more than the cohabitation of various supposedly homogenous entities living side by side, but it reaches every element constituting society up to the very identity of each individual. Both societies and individuals are made of many different influences and origins, which can change during the course of time. It is by accepting this diversity and its ever changing nature that we can stop defining human relations in terms of 'us' and 'them' which induce clearly separated ethnic, religious or otherwise defined communities. Migration, trade and communication have brought the world together - and not since yesterday! Closely looking at history we realise that it is the way we are looking at the constituting elements that is changing, and not the fact that societies have always been subjects to countless influences. Many of modern day conflicts are related to the perception of identity, to the question of belonging to 'one group' or 'the other' and extremists of different sides eloquently deepen the artificial divides.

International voluntary service projects, as organised by CCIVS member organisations, can have a positive influence in furthering another vision of diversity and help ensure harmonious interaction amongst people and groups. They can help foster a deeper understanding of the concept of cultural diversity beyond easy stereotypes. In order to fulfil this mission the organisations, project hosts and project co-ordinators need to have a high awareness of the issues at stake and develop capacities to follow the processes leading to a more differentiated cultural awareness.

Approaches to intercultural learning in a globalised world:

The three day training was embedded in a context of various trainings and seminars on cultural diversity since 2005 and a number of seminars on regional cooperation between the EU and Eastern Europe and within Eastern Europe since 2003. The training developed a number of proposals for follow up projects to be implemented in 2008 and beyond. Click here for the full report.

CCIVS MODULE ON CULTURAL DIVERSITY:

No size can fit all: How to seize the chance for intercultural learning in international voluntary service projects?

In 2005 CCIVS organised the Asia Europe Young Volunteers Exchange (AEYVE) with the support of ASEF for the 4th time, with the theme "Voluntary service and Cultural Diversity: a collective strength to transform society positively". The training sessions particularly focused on the methodologies used to prepare volunteers for a stay in the other continent. The concept of cultural diversity was also introduced.

As a follow up of the project a first draft of a training module was developped. It includes exercises about intercultural learning in workcamps, and is to be used by workcamp leaders. This module is part of a bigger project which comprises a seminar in the Czech Republic in April 2006, followed by "laboratory workcamps" in the summer and the production of a CD-ROM that will be disseminated through member-organisations.

For more information about intercultural learning and volunteering, you can have a look at the following sites:

In the section cultural diversity - what to keep in mind as a volunteer you can find a few useful links related to intercultural learning.

Organisations and trainers find some tips for the implementation of preparatory sessions for volunteers in the CCIVS publication Looking without glasses.

Council of Europe & European Union Training Youth T-kit on intercultural learning: http://www.training-youth.net/INTEGRATION/TY/Publications/T_Kits.html

Council of Europe "All Different, All Equal" campaign: http://alldifferent-allequal.info/

Council of Europe: White Paper on intercultural dialogue.
A
new website that allows you to share your vision of intercultural dialogue and to submit examples of best practices. In 2005 intercultural dialogue became one of the Organisation's priorities for the years to come. In 2006, the Committee of Ministers launched the preparations of a White Paper on intercultural dialogue which is expected to be published in November 2007: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/intercultural/default_en.asp

The Alliance of Civilizations.
In order to advance the Alliance of Civilizations, the UN Secretary-General established a High-level Group of eminent personalities and tasked this group with generating a report containing an analysis of the rise in cross-cultural polarization and extremism and a set of practical recommendations to counter this phenomenon. The group produced a report which takes a multi-polar approach within which it prioritizes relations between Muslim and Western societies.
Click here to download the report in seven languages: http://www.unaoc.org/repository/report.htm

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