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EU platform on immigrant and ethnic minority integration discusses ICT

Brno, 18.1.2011 17:05, (ROMEA)
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Yesterday in Brno a workshop was convened as part of a series held in six cities across the EU. The basic topic of discussion was whether and how new technology might assist the integration of immigrants and ethnic minorities into majority societies. What are the examples of good practice ICT projects for improving inter-ethnic relations abroad? Which practices have had success in the Czech Republic?

The EU platform entitled "Bridge IT, Digital Inclusion and Cultural Diversity in Europe" organized a series of discussion seminars during the winter of 2010/2011 in six EU countries (the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain). "This is a unique series of workshops where representatives of the academic, commercial, nonprofit and state spheres will meet regularly," says Anais Le Corvec, project coordinator at the University of Barcelona. The meeting in the Czech Republic took place in Brno.

The project's Czech partner is the Multicultural Center Prague (Multikulturní centrum Praha), which has long been involved in the issue of the coexistence of people from different cultures. The coordinator of the event, Ondřej Daniel, invited colleagues from Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and other countries to join guests from Brno, Prague and elsewhere in the Czech Republic for the workshop, which included representatives of immigrants and ethnic minorities living in this country. Since the project was intended to reflect the supranational, national, regional and local dimensions of this issue, Brno was an easy choice for the organizers. Both the City of Brno and the South Moravian Region have placed an increasing emphasis on support for innovative technologies and creative industry. The Brno host of the workshop was the South Moravian Center for International Mobility.

Ondřej Daniel, project coordinator at Multicultural Center Prague, answered a few questions for news server Romea.cz:

Why is the Multicultural Center participating in this project, why is it significant?

The combination of the information and communication technologies topic with the ethnic minority and immigrant agenda is rather new for Multicultural Center Prague - but these topics are new to one another in general. It may be that given the growing significance of these technologies, these topics could become key in the future. We believe that if ethnic minorities and immigrants are starting not only to use web pages more, but also blogs, podcasts, RSS and social networking, then we as an organization striving to inform the public about ethnic topics must also respond to these innovations. In the past, for example, we presented a series of blogs written by migrants from the Czech Republic and abroad. It was natural that we would participate in a project aiming to map the various web initiatives out there, whether directly created by ethnic minorities and immigrants or targeting those communities.

The Czech workshop took place yesterday in Brno. Why that particular city? How would you evaluate the workshop in terms of the discussion, the exchange of experience and information, and the overall participation?

We chose Brno as the site of the Czech workshop, entitled "Ethnicity Online: Migrants, Expats, International Students and Minorities on the Web", because the project aimed to map web initiatives at four separate levels: European, national, regional and local. Brno and the South Moravian Region are striving to build up an infrastructure that serves all groups of migrants, whether highly qualified or not, and a large number of Roma live in the city. The event took place on Cejl street, a location that is distinctive for Roma in Brno, and it is shame that it was not supported by more Roma organizations in terms of participation. However, that is our fault - due to the bad weather, we had to move the event from the start of December to mid-January, and that meant we had to practically organize it all over again during the first two weeks after the holiday. Even though others were unable attend due to family obligations, illnesses or work obligations, the event was finally attended during the day by about 20 representatives of various initiatives. In terms of evaluation, I would like to quote one nice e-mail I have just received from a woman who attended: "From my point of view, the workshop was very successful. It was pleasant and useful." The atmosphere of the workshop was enhanced by the fact that we concluded with a walk through Brno, guided by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, during which we visited remembrance sites related to Germans, Jews, Roma and other subcultures in Brno.

Will the meetings take place in other European cities?

The Brno workshop was the last in the series of national workshops that took place during the winter in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. On the basis of these workshops, a document will be produced mapping various web enterprises in those countries. The project organizers will present the results of this project on 10 -11 March in Barcelona. Yesterday project coordinator Ana?s Le Corvec called on the participants to let her know whether they are interested in participating in the conference. She said the organizers can finance the journey for several participants from the Czech Republic. Those interested can contact me and I will be happy to put them in touch with her.

Will the project result in a comparative study of some sort, or in recommendations?

The project output is meant to be the map of the various initiatives. We are working on the document for the Czech Republic. Those interested should start contacting me around mid-February.

Gwendolyn Albert, Jarmila Balážová, Jarmila Balážová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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