TandEM closing event highlights role of youth in changing the narrative on migration

Dec 10, 2019

Brussels - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized on 5 December in Brussels the final event of the Project “TandEM – Toward Empowered Migrant Youth in Southern Europe”, an initiative carried out in the last 2 years and aimed at empowering migrant and refugee youth within universities fostering the engagement of local students.

The youth-led event served as the occasion to present achievements and results of the past year and counted on the participation of partners and students who shared their experiences. Four universities were involved in the project (University “La Sapienza” of Rome, University “Orientale” of Naples, University of Pisa and “Complutense” University of Madrid), and more than 250 students with migratory background have been provided with academic, administrative and social support.

“This project focuses its action on 4 main components”, explained Laurence Hart, Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean. “The creation of peer to peer university mentorship schemes, the promotion of awareness raising activities on social media to debunk migration stereotypes, the organization of seminars and debates on inter-religious dialogue and intercultural understanding, as well as the identification of the main obstacles met by students with migratory background in the access to higher education”.

Topics addressed during the event included the role played by younger generation in changing the narrative on migration and in preparing the ground for more cohesive societies in the EU context where, considering migratory fluxes of the past years, the discourse on inclusion is of growing importance. “Society usually sees inclusion as a challenge because it implies actions and decisions above our responsibility, but I believe we can all be changemakers playing our part with the tools we have at disposal”, affirmed a student who attended the event. “Younger generations can work from the bottom to change the perceptions of society toward migrants and migration using social media, sharing information and raising awareness. Within universities we have created inclusive communities where our colleagues feel free and welcomed to express themselves and their identities; sharing our activities on Facebook, we have conveyed a representation of the “migrant” which differs from those presented normally by the mainstream media. That’s our way to make society more open and informed on the issue.”

Among participants, the Director of the European University Association discussed the findings of the research “Higher Education for Third Country National and Refugee Integration in Southern Europe” that explored national approaches and policies toward migrant inclusion in European universities, focusing on main challenges, good practices and drafting recommendation for national authorities and universities.

Representatives from the Italian Islamic Community (Coreis) and from the Spanish Foundation “Pluralismo Y Convivencia”, presented the inter-religious component of the project, analyzing the diverse perceptions on religious freedom and acceptance in Spain and Italy, also discussing the structure and content of the seminars and the students’ response. As underlined by a students who attended one of the dialogue: “Seminars on inter-religious dialogue offered the academic community the occasion to reflect on the religious diversity present within universities. Religion usually relates to the private sphere and having the opportunity to discuss it openly has allowed us to understand more each other”.

TandEM was funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union, and implemented by 6 IOM missions (Italy, Spain, Malta, Croatia, Greece and Cyprus) in partnership with the European University Association and COREIS (Italian Islamic Community).

For more information, please contact Nicoletta Boi at the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean. Tel: +39 0644186240; Email: nboi@iom.int.

Participants to the TandEM closing event in Brussels on 5 December 2019

Several students attended the TandEM closing event in Brussels on 5 December 2019.