Celebrating Multiculturality @City Days Cluj-Napoca

Over the weekend, the city of Cluj-Napoca has been blooming with life. Concerts, parades, street art, confetti, fireworks and a great variety of food have brought people of all ages to celebrate in the heart of the city. This year’s key words were Creating connections. LADO Cluj joined in making these words real through various activities that marked the end of its yearly Festival of Multiculturality.

Multiculturality is a value, but also an experience. The right mood was set early on Thursday, May 25th – on Africa Day. The event was hosted away from the rain by Golfee,  a perfect location for the African cuisine, dances, art and fun connecting participants of all ages. From Friday to Sunday, members of various cultural communities in Cluj-Napoca –Burundi, Ecuador, Egypt, Moldova, Palestina, Pakistan and India – have been out and about on Kogalniceanu Street, presenting their country’s traditional art, clothing, souvenirs, interacting and sharing a great time with their visitors.

Simultaneously, a  Multicultural Quizz followed by a Journalism Cafe about the media and the refugee crisis with the participation of Gabriela Leu, Information/Communications Associate at UNHCR Romania. The main question of the meeting was How do we break the stereotypes?

The rejection of refugees was connected to the contradiction between a ready-made understanding of the term – as a very poor person, in dire need of help – and the image of strong, young, mostly male young people with a phone seen in the media. Both images are of course, stereotypes. They collide, but they don’t break each other, reinforcing feelings of rejection instead. In the words of Gabriela, this is due to reality not fitting people’s image of  a refugee. But how do you tell someone is a refugee? She recalls an exercise where kids were shown a representation of a group and were asked to identify the refugee – some pointed out the sad person, others the isolated one – but soon realised that it could be anyone. There is no recognizable trait that makes someone a refugee, and even more, any of us could become one, if the conditions arise. We might need to leave our town, our region and eventually our country and seek international protection. Scenarios like this are a very powerful tool, points out Gabriela.

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The role of quality journalism cannot be understated. Challenges arise, however, even when openness is there. UNHCR Romania and other institutions working in the field need to invest in the relationship with the media, to provide structured, well-prepared, summarized background information whenever they can, to support the work of journalists – who are often expected to play a specialist role in several fields during a single day.

The difference between irregular and illegal border crossing is an example which requires understanding of the legislation – a person can be an illegal immigrant in a technical sense, however, holding the legal right to asylum also when they cannot provide personal documents due to their fleeing conditions. Such nuances are often missing from the media, prompting institutions and professionals for taking a more active and engaging role in sharing information with journalists and fostering long-term relationships with them.

This event was a good opportunity to touch on one of the objectives of a new project implemented by LADO Cluj at the moment – Romanian Research Center of Migration (RRCM), looking at the integration of migrants and their collaboration with the public institutions.

Back to the stage, on Kogalniceanu Street. Pakistani-Indian dances and song performances have just ended. The public is then invited to taste one of the oldest recipes of a traditional Romanian meal, from the 1600s. The festive mood continued on Sunday on Kogalniceanu Street, around the exhibition stands and on stage, where the Latin-American, Pakistani-Indian and Palestinian communities performed again.

We are thankful to the authorities, the City Hall, the LADO Cluj team and all participating members of Migrant Communities who created the necessary connections for Multiculturality to shine in such wonderful colors.

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“MigraNet”: Stop and Replay 

Monday, May 8th, the League for Defense of Human Rights (LADO) Cluj organized the Closing Conference for the project “MigraNet – Regional Network for the Integration of Migrants”. The event was hosted by the Faculty of Political, Administrative and Communication Sciences within the “Babes-Bolyai” University. 

The meeting celebrated successes, shared difficulties and offered the opportunity to thank all those involved in the project – both participants and partners, who often exceeded their predefined role in order to ensure the success of the project.

The conference offered insights on the key indicators, activities and outcomes, as well as an opportunity for retrospection – initiated in May 2016 as a pilot project that brought together seven separate activities implemented as early as 2010, MigraNet took on ambitious goals and equally demanding challenges.

LADO Conferinta de Inchidere MigraNet 2017

Aside from the value that multiculturalism can bring to the city, an idea pointed out by both project managers and Alex Jacho, representative of the Latin American community in Cluj-Napoca and an intercultural mediator within the project, was the importance of initiatives coming from the communities themselves.

We can imagine a constellation in which LADO offers organizational support, and the centers of gravity multiply, shifting more and more towards the different cultural communities, which would evolve as legally registered associations. The Festival of Multiculturalism in Cluj-Napoca already reflects this vision – the leaders of the participating communities organize the activities themselves, involving the interested members throughout the process.

“MigraNet – The Regional Network for the Integration of Migrants” was launched in May 2016 by the League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADO) Cluj, in partnership with the Social and Medical Assistance Directorate Cluj-Napoca, the Professional Non-governmental Association for Social Assistance Baia Mare and the Romania Office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Over one year, more than 120 beneficiaries of international protection and third-country nationals from 9 counties in Romania (Region 4) were offered counseling services on accessing the labor market and health services, psychological counseling, legal services, Romanian language courses, material assistance and school supplies for children, as well as cultural and recreational activities such as museum visits or activities within the Festival of Multiculturalism in Cluj-Napoca.

The project will go on in 2017 in a new, streamlined form, focusing on service delivery. The implementation is foreseen until 2022, which promises valuable opportunities to reformulate responses to the open question of integration, seen as a dynamic and multi-directional process, as well as that of what we mean by a multicultural society.

Upcoming event: May 25 – Africa Day. Check out more details about the event here.

„MigraNet”: punct și de la capăt

Astăzi, la Facultatea de Științe Politice, Administrație și Comunicare a avut loc Conferința de închidere a proiectului „MigraNet – Rețeaua regională pentru intregrarea migranților” desfășurat de Liga Apărării Drepturilor Omului (LADO), filiala Cluj începând din mai 2016.

Întâlnirea a celebrat succesele, a împărtășit dificultățile  și a oferit ocazia de a mulțumi tuturor celor care s-au implicat în proiect – atât participanților, cât și partenerilor, care de multe ori și-au depășit rolul predefinit pentru a se asigura de reușita proiectului.

S-au prezentat indicatorii realizați, activitățile-cheie și rezultatele, conferința fiind, de asemenea, și o oportunitate de reflecție retrospectivă – inițiat ca un proiect-pilot, care a adus împreună șapte activități desfășurate separat  anterior încă din 2010, „MigraNet” a avut obiective ambițioase și provocări pe măsură.

Dincolo de valoarea pe care multiculturalitatea o poate aduce orașului, o idee punctată atât de reprezentanții LADO, cât și de Alex Jacho, reprezentant al comunității latino-americane din Cluj-Napoca și mediator intercultural în cadrul proiectului a fost importanța inițiativelor venite din partea comunităților înseși.

Ne putem imagina, astfel, o constelație în care LADO oferă suportul organizațional, iar centrele de greutate se multiplică, mutându-se tot mai mult în mijlocul diferitelor comunități culturale, ce evoluează înspre asociații înregistrate legal. Festivalul Multiculturalității reflectă această viziune – liderii comunităților participante organizează ei înșiși activitățile, implicându-i pe membrii interesați pe parcursul întregului proces.

„MigraNet – Rețeaua regională pentru intregrarea migranților” a fost inițiat în mai 2016 de către Liga Apărării Drepturilor Omului (LADO), filiala Cluj, în parteneriat cu Direcţia de Asistenţă Socială şi Medicală (DASM) Cluj-NapocaAsociaţia Profesională Neguvernamentală de Asistenţă Socială (ASSOC) Baia Mare şi Organizaţia Internaţională pentru Migraţie (OIM)  – Biroul în România. Pe parcursul unui an, peste 120 de beneficiari de protecție și resortisanți ai unor țări terțe din 9 județe din România (regiunea 4) au avut parte de servicii de orientare pentru accesul în piața muncii, acces la servicii de sănătate, consiliere psihologică, servicii juridice, cursuri de limba română, asistență materială pentru hrană și rechizite și activități cultural-recreaționale precum vizite la muzeu sau activități în cadrul Festivalului Multiculturalității din Cluj-Napoca.

Proiectul va continua și în 2017 sub o formă nouă, simplificată, ce se va concentra pe oferirea de servicii. Este prevăzut un plan de implementare până în anul 2022, ce promite oportunități valoroase de reformulare a răspunsurilor la întrebarea deschisă a integrării migranților, văzute ca proces dinamic și pluri-direcțional, dar și a definiției a ceea ce înseamnă o societate multiculturală.

Upcoming event: May 25 – Ziua Africii. Mai multe detalii despre eveniment aici.