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Varied group of young people discuss cultural heritage, tolerance at unusual 'camp'
16-08-2004 - Dita Asiedu

Cultural heritage and tolerance: those were the issues discussed by a varied group of 32 young people, who have just spent two weeks at a disused mill in a village called Vrsovice in north Bohemia. The participants - from all over the world - explored their cultural heritage, and how it is presented in their everyday life. Radio Prague visited the camp as the group put on various types of performances, reflecting what they had learned by spending so much time together. Jana Tikalova is from the group OPIM, which supports the integration of minorities and organised the project:

International Camp in Vrsovice "Their background is not only Roma and non-Roma but we also have one blind girl and gays and lesbians, so they represent the minority of gays, lesbians, and people who have disabilities."

"My name is Johana Fajtova and I'm a student at a secondary school for the visually impaired in Prague. I live with three Roma girls from Hungary and they are great but those I've come to love the most are the Spanish - the way they behave around me and how they are passionate about everything. When we sat at the dinner table, they were extremely loud - laughing and singing - but when I spoke about a sad personal experience, they turned quiet and the way they made me feel was amazing. I never felt like that before. All eight of them shared my pain and reached out across the table to assure me that I was not alone. Every hand of theirs wanted to touch and caress me."

Jana Tikalova with Dita Asiedu "My name is Bushra, from South Africa. I came just with the intention of learning a little bit more about minorities and that was definitely met because everyone here had something to say, had in the past been victimized or been victims of prejudice. Just hearing how every one else dealt with it made me more aware about these issues and I learned that not every one can control what happens to them but what they can control is how they are going to react to it. Lots of people, when they found out that I was from South Africa asked me things like 'what animal do you drive to school?' and 'what tribe do you come from?'.

International Camp in Vrsovice "Initially, I was really upset about those sort of questions but I realized that you can't blame them because that's the image of Africa that they get from international media or things that they learnt. No one is born with prejudices. It's picked up as you grow older from the people around you and the environment around you and that's the whole idea of this, to clear up that sort of prejudice and find concrete programmes that you can take back to local communities and make them question those things that they are initially so sure of."

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