In 2015 the Intercultural Achievement Award once again honoured successful, innovative projects in the field of intercultural dialogue, both in Austria and on a global scale. Since intercultural dialogue covers a broad range of subject areas, a substantive focus on certain areas allowed for more comparability of the entries.
The winning projects were selected by seven independent experts in the field of intercultural dialogue, namely the following:
Prof. Dr. Herwig Hösele – secretary general, Future Fund of the Republic of Austria
Mag. (FH) Bernd Brünner – deputy CEO, Austrian Development Agency
Mag. Roland Goiser – deputy CEO, Austrian Integration Fund
Dr. Simon Kravagna – publisher and editor in chief, dasbiber magazine
Dr. Katerina Kratzmann – office manager, International Organisation for Migration, regional office in Austria
Mag. Meri Disoski – CEO, association “Wirtschaft für Integration”
Mag. Gerhard Moßhammer – CEO, Intercultural Centre
IAA winners 2015
UGANDA – Muslim Centre for Justice and Law (MCJL)
Project: Enhancement of Inter-faith and Intra-faith Youth Dialogue to promote Gender Justice and Peaceful Co-existence
The Muslim Centre for Justice and Law (MCJL) engages students of different religious backgrounds in interfaith dialogue activities to cultivate a social environment of mutual respect and religious tolerance. MCJL encourages young adults between 16 and 25 to discuss spirituality, religion, culture and identity during debate and essay competitions, youth retreat seminars, talk shows and the annual climaxing event, the “Multi Faith Youth Day of Service”. Another aim is to raise awareness for gender justice as a cross-cutting issue. The Centre reaches out to young people through religious leaders and thereby tries to enhance interreligious dialogue not only between Muslims and Christians, but also within the Muslim faith community itself. In striving to enhance interreligious dialogue to prevent violent extremism while simultaneously combating gender inequality, and in stressing community service as a unifying experience, MCJL’s approach serves as best practice example. The IAA Sustainability 2015 was awarded to MCJL for its ability to sustainably consolidate interreligious dialogue within popular youth discourse in Uganda. With the prize money, MCJL will finance further dialogue activities as well as an interreligious youth seminar with approximately 60 participants.
Category “Recent Events”
POLAND – Foundation Humanity in Action
Project: Inter@ction Zone Congress
In reaction to a local study on the prevalence of hate speech on the internet, the Foundation Humanity in Action Poland organized the first country-level congress for young Polish activists to counteract hate speech of any sort and to promote intercultural dialogue online. Taking place at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in November 2014, the three-day event provided 200 participants with the opportunity to learn from experts and vulnerable and minority groups how to deconstruct simplistic narratives and stereotypes that circulate online. Congress attendees reflected upon the attitudes of society towards “the other” and analysed the roots of hate speech. They were equipped with the tools essential for dismantling stereotypes and felt empowered to launch their own campaigns – which they did only days after the end of the conference. The Inter@ction Zone Congress succeeded in creating a network of cyber-activists that noticeably strengthens civil society and improves intercultural understanding. The IAA Recent Events 2015 is awarded to the Foundation Humanity in Action Poland for pioneering an approach in empowering young people to take a stance in social activism and promote an online culture of dialogue and respect, following social research published in 2014 on a specific problem area. The prize money will be used for long-term support of existing initiatives, particularly the project “Start-up! Actions and ideas labs against hate speech”
ISRAEL – Arab-Jewish Community Center
Project: Class Exchange Program
The Class Exchange Program promotes intercultural dialogue by organising joint educational activities for Arab and Jewish children. About 750 students aged 9 to 11 meet every other week to participate in activities that emphasise teamwork and problem-solving and are guided by both an Arab and a Jewish facilitator. The alternating use of Hebrew and Arabic and the element of shared tasks and common goals offer a viable solution to the problem of segregated education. Adopted by local schools and requiring mandatory attendance, the project has achieved involvement of a wide range of groups, even those who might be reluctant to participate in intercultural initiatives. Ties are created not only between Arab and Jewish students, but also between their parents and teachers. The IAA Innovation 2015 is awarded to the Arab-Jewish Community Centre for its innovative approach to blend civil society driven intercultural and inter-community dialogue into regular school hours, and therefore ensuring a tangible impact of everyday attitudes and behaviour, not only on participating school children, but also on parents and teachers. The prize money will be used to further finance community activities of the Class Exchange Program.
SERBIA – Danas
Project: Sandzak Danas
Established in 2006 by a group of Belgrade journalists and editors, the regional supplement Sandzak Danas is the first and only printed medium in the multi-ethnic and multi-confessional region of Sandzak. The regional supplement of the independent Danas daily newspaper edited in Belgrade covers issues of the local economy, politics, culture and sports in all municipalities of the politically and religiously diverse region. It is widely considered as the region’s sole professional journal with no political affiliation. The editors describe their work as “a broad dialogue tribune”, providing the space to express opposing local views and opinions and trying to establish a better way of intercultural understanding in Sandzak. In addition to the weekly publication, Danas organizes conferences and implements projects focussing on the needs and concerns of the region’s most vulnerable groups –youth, women, and ethnic minorities. The IAA Media 2015 is awarded to Danas for its socially responsible and non-partisan approach, in serving the public interest by promoting intercultural dialogue. The paper follows an approach of professional and unbiased journalism, and has managed to convince readers from all segments of Sandzak society. The prize money will be used to expand and strengthen its distribution and correspondent network.
Category “Special Award for Integration in Austria”
AUSTRIA – Association „the Connection”
Projekt: Café „the CONNECTION“
The Viennese coffee shop “the CONNECTION” strengthens integration by bringing together young migrant workers, international co-workers and a mostly Austrian clientele. “The CONNECTION” offers entry level jobs for young immigrants, in addition to German classes, a mentoring programme and intercultural interaction in the most typically Viennese setting possible: a coffee shop. This coffee shop’s aim is to offer its employees a solid platform from where they can move on to further studies or sustainable working environments, having a success rate of 90 percent. Mentors and guests are sensitised to issues of integration. While getting to know Austrian customs and work environments, young immigrants work in a multicultural setting and are engaged in intercultural dialogue with their colleagues and clients. “The CONNECTION” serves as a tool for self-empowerment, which allows participants to establish their own networks and take charge of their professional future. The IAA Special Award for Integration 2015 goes to “the CONNECTION” for its use of intercultural dialogue to successfully facilitate integration processes and for helping to build a professional future for young migrants in Austria. The prize money will be used to finance a necessary full-time employee as well as an intercultural workshop for its sponsors and partner organisations.
Given the large number of entries, it was in the interest of the Task Force to honour three further projects with the IAA of Recognition, in addition to the five main categories.
BULGARIA – CIDT Amalipe
Project: Decreasing the drop-out rate among Roma children: Every student can be a winner
This project launched by the Bulgarian NGO CIDT is aimed at preventing early school leaving among Roma children. With a comprehensive intercultural approach, curricula and education processes are individually tailored towards the three target groups: students, parents and teaching staff. One of the main elements of the project is the introduction of so-called „Roma culture classes”, which seek to preserve and renew the cultural identity of Roma communities and to promote mutual understanding and tolerance between children of different origins.
FINLAND – Moniheli ry.
With their project „iCount“ the Finnish NGO Moniheli ry. seeks to promote active citizenship and political participation of migrants in Finland. iCount organises discussions, seminars and workshops that gather migrants, representatives of Finnish NGOs, public officials as well as local and national decision-makers. They share experiences and mutual expectations and develop ideas to better integrate migrants into political decision-making processes.
Austria – M-MEDIA
Project: fresh. Out of Africa.
The first „black Austrian lifestyle“ magazine „fresh“ was established by publisher and editor in chief, Simon Inou, to visualise and share new narratives when it comes to the (medially conveyed) image of young black Austrians. „fresh“ is published four times a year with a print run of 8.000 copies. In addition, it organises cultural and awareness-raising events where „black“ and „non-black“ groups come together and work towards overcoming (socially-constructed) barriers.