On Friday the 4th of May, Crossed Paths of Europe had its first workshop at The Welcoming in Edinburgh!

The Welcoming is an organisation which helps and supports migrants and refugees from around the world to settle into Edinburgh. They do this through running a variety of activities, discussions, and classes, and through providing opportunities for newcomers and local people to get to know each other. With such a strong focus on inclusion and celebrating diversity, and with such an international community, The Welcoming’s ‘Conversation Cafe’ was the perfect place to hold our project’s first workshop focused on European identity.

The workshop, run by co-head organiser Emma, was oriented around the three core aims of our project; raising awareness of European identity, breaking stereotypes, and increasing social inclusion.

Beginning with an introduction to the Crossed Paths of Europe project and an ice breaker at 1:30pm, the workshop was split into three main sections. The first section focused on stereotypes of Europeans, the second explored what identity is, and the final section considered what exactly it means to be a European.

Firstly, the group of about 50 participants split into smaller groups, and collectively drew a ‘stereotypical’ European and came up with three words to describe the person they drew. These ideas were all fed-back to the larger group. Ranging from patriotic, to liking cheese, to having lots of international knowledge – the suggestions sparked both humour and in-depth discussions about the realities of Europeans.

As can be seen in the picture below, the initial descriptive words were challenged and changes were made in green pen. Is Europe really knowledgeable about international issues, or only those which are Eurocentric? Do all Europeans have beards and long hair, or do they not? This section was incredibly insightful into the differences between stereotypical Europeans and real Europeans – particularly through the insights from people who didn’t consider themselves to be European!

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The second section was focused on what identity is, and what it means to different people. Again splitting off into smaller groups, and then coming back together, the participants provided incredibly interesting opinions on what identity really is.

Identity was considered as something which makes you unique, your values and beliefs, your gender, your unspoken energy, but also what it says on your birth certificate and passport. It was clear that a European identity is very subjective, and personal, including multiple layers of your past, your culture, and also your legal status.

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The third and final section was much less structured, with participants discussing as a whole exactly whether or not they felt that being European was part of their identity. For many, being European was considered a key part of their identity and of themselves as people, for some being European was more important than their national identity, and for some they did not feel that being European was a part of their identity at all.

Our first workshop was a great success, prompting incredibly interesting discussions between attendees, and providing excellent insights into the complex topics of identity and inclusion. We are really looking forward to our next workshop in Stockholm!

If you are interested in our workshops, or would like us to run one with your organisation/societies please let us know!

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