While Western societal discourses are increasingly dominated by the consequences of the rapid influx of newcomers in the aftermath of the so called „summer of migration“ in 2015, ironically it is not the refugees themselves being part of or even shaping these public discussions. In order to raise voices, demand interests and be part of public discussions in Western societies one needs to understand how discourses are structured (e.g. represented in the media) and resources are organised (e.g. collaborations with societal actors are formed) to shape them. Those skills are very hard to obtain in a new country that provides almost no role models for newcomers speaking for themselves in the media .
CAST YOUR VOICE?
The project CAST YOUR VOICE aims to co-develop pathways and tools with newcomers in order to better raise their voice in public discourses (e.g. the perspective of Syrian refugees in the diaspora on current developments as well as the future of their home country). The title CAST YOUR VOICE is a newly created expression deduced from the phrase “cast your vote” and stands for the importance of the ownership of discourse about a topic when it comes to political influence.
Approach of the project
With a pioneer group of 12 newcomers within the German society, the coaching and moderation expert team of Julia Mehr and Ronny Röwert will develop, pilot and reflect approaches and tools for newcomers to raise their interests in public discourses and thus become more politically engaged in their host countries. In order to guarantee the sustainability of the project, the newcomer students will develop train the trainer learning materials for facilitating public discourse interventions. They will acquire the relevant skills to publicly facilitate workshops about the chosen topic and to support fellow newcomer students to become speakers and thus cast their voice as well. Train the trainer (TTT) concepts have been proven to be very sustainable, efficient and cost-effective.
Next to learning about public discourse, students will directly train their skills by designing each their own discourse intervention within a broader topic of choice decided by the whole group. We see it as very important that we start with an open space format to define the topic all together. Based on the overall topic, every pioneer newcomer will then design the discourse intervention (e.g. poetry slam, blog, public discussion) that is the best fit to his/her needs.
The project understands itself as a living lab where developed ideas and activities will constantly be reflected in order to filter for solutions with the highest likelihood of scalable potential. The learnings of the group process will be shared and disseminated with various organisations who can use this to make participation for newcomer students in universities and scholarship programs easier accessible. The group of newcomer students will use several channels of presenting their ideas and looking for followers. Furthermore, the facilitators make sure that the students become trainers and that the learning material to design discourse interventions will be prepared in a way that enables the first followers of the pioneer newcomer students to facilitate interventions as well.