Lithuanian and Polish youths: tolerance is something you learn

This week saw the end of a project titled “Different Faces - Common Spirit” financed by the Lithuanian - Polish Youth Fund. During the project twelve youths from the neighboring countries sought answers on why do conflicts happen in modern societies, discussed human rights, discrimination and by using photography and scrap booking looked for the common spirit behind the different faces of both nations. However, many of the participants of the project agreed, that tolerance is not something that goes without saying - it must be learned.

“My opinion is, that we should be speaking more on the problems connected with tolerance, differences between nations, in the end even sexuality. When we deny that there are many contradictions and differences and don’t start discussing them, we will never understand how intolerant we are of each other”, said Natalia Tomaszewska, a participant in the project organized by the Lithuanian Youth Centre.

Monika Kiburytė after the six day long project was certain, that people rarely even consider the consequences of the actions based on false stereotypes. “I have now made sure, that members of the society are very fond of saying that they are tolerant, however that is just a cover”, pointed out M. Kiburytė.

One of the main goals of the project was to show, that tolerance is not something that comes into being naturally and you must strive to achieve it, learn how to recognize and destroy stereotypes. The project also saw visit to Polish, Jewish and Belorussian minorities. To achieve all this, the Lithuanian - Polish youth exchange used discussions and a sense of commonness achieved during group exercises: common hobbies, view on life, love and poverty.

Only by coming face to face with the people marginalized by society, you understand that they are the same as you - with their ambitions and dreams, that is when you start respecting and understanding them”, stated one of the participants Sonata Juciūtė.

During the project much attention was given to not only identify the cultural and social similarities of the two countries, various forms of discrimination was also brought up, such as discrimination of social standing, ethnicity, sex or sexual preference. The latter brought up multitudes of discussions.

“Because we live in free democratic countries, we never even notice that there are people who are forced to hide, because their sexual orientation is different. The project showed me, that there is much to do in our environment to protect the human rights of all people. We also understood how badly tolerance is needed for the world. In the end, we can say that everything depends only on our own willingness to go into the depth of the problems we are facing”, opined Paulina Deja.

Nearing the end of the exchange the youths set forth to the streets of Vilnius to search for the common heritage of both nations. Through the lens of a camera they captured eye catching views of Vilnius. Out of these pictures a collage was made, which is now presented in the office of the Lithuanian Youth Centre.

The organizers hope, that the project between the neighboring nations will become a tradition, the Lithuanian Youth Centre has been organizing similar activities consecutively for two years.


Additional information:

Martynas Norbutas

Mob.: 865911080

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