Cottage of Cultures

What is this project about?

We, as a group of international and Finnish people, identified a critical need to promote cultural exchange and interactions between foreigners and locals.
Therefore we want to establish a regular event where both foreigners and Finns can meet and take the chance to broaden their horizons and their knowledge about other cultures. Our Cottage of Cultures is a fantastic opportunity to promote diversity and interculturality, to include minorities in community life, and to bridge the gap between locals and internationals. 

We want to roll up our sleeves and create a more inclusive society!

How did this project start?

The idea of the Cottage of Cultures came out when we started to organise, together with Allianssi Youth Exchanges, an event called Intercultural Evenings, where a representative of a country would organise the evening with a presentation, some food and activities specific to their country. With this type of event we saw a great need to integrate foreigners with Finnish local youth as well as share knowledge about the European countries and their cultures. 

We realised that foreigners are not so well integrated in the local community so we want to create a regular event where they will have an opportunity to make friends, integrate with Finns and create bonds. As half of the people in our group are foreigners, they experienced on their own skin episodes of marginalization; this is precisely the reason why we decided to create this group including both locals and foreigners, in order to establish a deeper connection between our cultures.

How does it work?

Each month we will host a meeting of the Cottage of Cultures, everyone who's interested could participate in the event and the activities. Each meeting will be dedicated to a specific country (or culture) and it will have a specific topic to discuss. The activities will be as it follows:

  • Short presentation of the country (or culture): the representative(s) of the chosen country will briefly present the most important or most interesting characteristics of their country. Us, as members of the group, we will support them and encourage them in using non-formal methods of education, or whatever tool they feel most comfortable with.
  • Workshop: the representative(s) will decide what type of workshop they want to carry out (language, dancing, cooking, artistic,...), still remaining something traditional of their culture; they will receive from us any kind of help they need. The workshop’s aim is to make the participants actively involved in the event, as well as make them learn new skills.
  • Discussion on a specific topic: During the meetings there will be a moment of intercultural conversation, in which everyone will be able to share their thoughts, opinions and personal experiences regarding a specific topic. We will learn from each other how those issues are addressed in different countries, and we could take inspiration in order to take action in our own countries. There will be a moderator who will preside over the debate, making sure the panel discussion is enjoyable and effective. At the end of each event we will present the participants a list of topics, such as feminism, LGBT+ rights, inclusive language, racism, ableism, religious minorities, sustainability, climate change. They will vote for the topic that they would like to address in the following meeting. We think that this formula will make people interested in joining more than just one event, since they will have the chance to choose the topic they’re most interested in for the next meeting. Knowing in advance what the topic will be, will also help us to properly prepare for the meetings and, in some cases, find some experts that can join the event and enlighten us with their expertise on the topic.
  • Socialisation: in the final part of the meeting everyone will be encouraged to socialise and talk to other people while tasting some traditional dishes of the country chosen for the event. According to the disposal, it will also be possible to have some musical performances.

What is a Solidarity Project?

A Solidarity Project is a non-profit solidarity activity initiated, developed and implemented by young people themselves for a period from 2 to 12 months. It gives a group of minimum five young persons the chance to express solidarity by taking responsibility and committing themselves to bring positive change in their local community. The project should have a clearly identified topic which the group of young people wish to explore together and which has to be translated into the concrete daily activities of the project and involve all the members of the group. Solidarity Projects should address key challenges within the communities, where relevant including those identified jointly in the border regions and it should also present European added value. Participation in a solidarity project is an important non-formal learning experience through which young people can boost their personal, educational, social and civic development.