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Students Learn, Discuss, and Play in an Anti-Racism Effort

November 23, 2006

Monday, November 13, welcomed AUBG community with a number of witty posters that drew attention to People to People International (PTPI) “Against Racism and Nationalism” campaign held between 11 and 18 November 2006 at the University. The students’ initiative was well planned, carefully executed and interesting enough to attract supporters from the very beginning. 

PTPI organized the event along with the international NGOs UNITED and FARE - Football against Racism in Europe, and AUBG’s sports club the Griffins.
 
According to Rauf Zeynalov, President of PTPY and a third-year AUBG student from Azerbaijan, the University’s multicultural environment favors the realization of projects that foster respect to cultural diversity.
 
“Although AUBG community is a culturally diverse one, racial problems do exist out there. As students travel a lot around the world they may encounter such problems and they need to be prepared to deal with them,” Rauf says. “That’s why, I think now is the time and AUBG is the place to increase students’ awareness on issues on racism and nationalism,” he explains. 
 
Lectures, movies, round table discussions, and a football game were the events that framed PTPI’s one-week anti-racism campaign at AUBG:
 
Saturday, 11 November. People to People International student club at AUBG officially opened the ambitious campaign with two workshop sessions. The workshops “Students against Racism” were organized by professional trainers with the participation of the students. The workshop started with ice-breaking games, then the students talked about their experience related to Racism.
 
Monday, 13 November. Krassimir Kanev, Deputy Chair of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, delivered a lecture on ethnic minority rights and racist extremism in Bulgaria. Kanev talked about the escalating ethnic tensions in Bulgaria and specifically about the appearance of the ultra-nationalist party “Ataka” in the political life of the country.

Tuesday, 14 November. History professor Diego Lucci lectured on the origins of racism in Europe. According to Lucci, although we are biologically different, it is culture and education that influence our behavior, not biology.

Wednesday, 15. November. “Racism, cultural conflicts and the media” was the topic of the lecture delivered by Journalism and Mass Communications Professor Aernout Van Lynden. There he spoke of racism and cultural tensions as a phenomenon that is a part of our natural human desire to belong to a certain group.

Thursday and Friday, 16 and 17 November. Students and faculty participated in the two round table discussions on Nationalism and Diversity and Racism with the participation of. After the discussions the movies “Crash”, “Remember the Titans” and “No Man’s Land” were shown.

Saturday, 18 November. The weekend started with a long awaited football game “Griffins against Racism”. Although the game opposed freshmen and older students and finished with a victory for the “Elders” over the “Rookies”, the final loser was, of course, Racism.

At the PTPI’s closing reception in the evening Rauf Zeynalov and Provost Ann Ferren spoke on the positive effect of the campaign. After that Ferren and Dean of Students Lydia Krise handed the certificates to the students who participated in the workshops and to the winners of the essay competition that took place during the campaign.

The rest happened at the party room in Skaptopara I late at night. The music was loud, different in style and origin, but obviously working for everyone. Probably because “fundamentally, we are all the same”.

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