Exchanges with peers

Apprentices from the Raiffeisen Schweiz Genossenschaft visited the Pestalozzi Children's Village from 17 to 20 October. They took part in an exchange project week with groups from Macedonia and Moldova. The young people discussed discrimination and stereotypes, and imagined what an ideal world would look like.

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A total of 120 young people took part in an exchange project week at the Children's Village. Intercultural exchange, mutual interaction and the improvement of their English skills were the key focuses.

IT apprentice manager Pascal Schönholzer felt that the project was a positive experience for his apprentices: ‘The week at the Pestalozzi Children's Village brought our apprentices closer together and helped them to recognise that we all start out from very different places in life.’

Gabriel, a second-year apprentice at Raiffeisen, also thinks that the project is a good idea. He was impressed by how significant the differences between Switzerland, Macedonia and Moldova are: ‘One game started out with us all standing in a line. Various statements were read out and we took a step forward if a statement applied to us. At the end, we saw how much further we Swiss people were able to go than the others.’

The intercultural exchanges also aroused his interest in other countries. ‘I’ve never been to the Balkans or Moldova. It must be beautiful there; I can see myself visiting these countries some day.’
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In the workshops, which were led by teachers from the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation, the young people discussed their perspectives on the world and how different cultures and lifestyles can coexist. Many of the exercises required them to participate actively by creating a framework for discussions – an activity which raised its own challenges. How do you find solutions to language barriers? What constitutes discrimination and where does it occur in everyday life? The exercises aimed to strengthen the young people’s self-confidence and social skills.

In their free time, they were able to visit the Children's Village youth centre, play football and relax in their dormitory, activities which helped interaction and intercultural exchange to take place during leisure time as well.

The Raiffeisen apprentices may now have left the Children’s Village, but the project is ongoing: the young people will discuss their experiences in a radio show. The Children's Village radio bus will visit the Raiffeisen site at the Roter Platz, St. Gallen, on 29 November 2017 for a live broadcast by the Raiffeisen Schweiz Genossenschaft apprentices.

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