EAEA GRUNDTVIG AWARD 2016. Refugees broadcasting music on the radio, working as photographers or fashion models? Why not. Lai-momo soc. coop, an Italian cooperative supporting asylum seekers, shows that activities for refugees do not have to be restricted to language classes.
The article series shares good practices by introducing the nominees of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2016.
Italy remains one of the countries with the highest number of asylum seekers in Europe and organisations on the ground struggle to keep up with the increasing demand for language classes. Lai-momo soc. coop, a cooperative working in the region of Emilia-Romagna, has a unique approach to the education of refugees.
While the activities offered by Lai-momo do include classes of Italian, refugees can also try their hand at journalism, gardening, modelling or teaching, to name only a few. Radio Frequenza Appennino in Poretta Terme involved asylum seekers coming from Western Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh in one of the broadcasts. They can now share the music from their countries while at the same time learning how to manage a radio show.
In some cases, the activities give refugees an opportunity to continue with the work they were doing before fleeing the country. Such was the case of a reception facility in Pontecchio Marconi, where a reception facility invited refugees to use two sewing machines and create home-made products.
Similarly, a guest of a reception facility in Bologna started to teach advanced English at the Antoniano center in the city. A former language student proved himself to be not only an excellent English speaker, but also a talented teacher.
Lai-momo underlines that learning should be an active and participatory process, one that benefits both the learner and the teacher. Education and integration of refugees can and should go beyond the classroom, engaging refugees in the life of the community and protection of its environment as soon as possible. Whether taking part in a carnival with local schoolchildren or developing a vegetable garden, refugees can already start feeling as an integral part of the community, which is of paramount importance to their successful integration.
Text: Aleksandra Kozyra