RCH Takes Part in New Erasmus+ Project

2016. december 01., csütörtök

Erasmus+, the European Union program that supports education, training, youth, and sports in Europe, is beginning an exciting new project that the RCH is partnering with – the Train the Unknown Trainer (TUT) project. The RCH will take on a leadership role among other churches and organizations in the project and as partner will even host one of the five TUT meetings in the coming years. 

Members of the Erasmus+ Train the Unknown Trainer (TUT) project met November 23-25 in Mönchengladbach-Rheydt, Germany, for their first meeting. The RCH was represented by Barnabás Balogh, Director of the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid and Diána Erdélyi, ecumenical secretary, and partners from Italy, Estonia, Czech Republic, and Germany were also present. The kickoff meeting aimed to introduce country partners and their activity to one another and to the TUT program through presentations and group sessions. Beyond these meetings, the group also had the opportunity to meet with the IRFAN Muslim community, an education and cultural association, during their time in Germany.

The IRFAN Muslim community is working to aid refugees and migrants with the help of Muslim and Christian volunteers. Their aim is to help in the integration of those arriving to Germany, whether they have a migrant background or not. The community welcomed the TUT project partners for a dinner while the head of the community introduced their work which includes language courses as well as social and education support.

Erasmus+ is a merging of several prior EU programs that seek to provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad. The program aims to support innovation and promote continued life learning, especially for new skills required in our ever-changing world.

In light of the rising challenges facing European nations in the midst of global refugee movements, the Train the Unknown Trainer (TUT) project was initiated by the Evangelical-Reformed in Germany in order to improve and standardize the training offers of churches for those who help refugees. In 2015 alone, almost 1 million refugees have fled their war-torn homelands and come to Europe, seeking safety for themselves and their families. Many of the first responders to these refugees are volunteers in the local area who may have no formal training of any kind for this work, only a deep desire to help their fellow human. These informal volunteers are called “unknown trainers” in the TUT program, whose specific aim is to better equip them for the volunteer work that they are already doing.

The TUT project puts “unknown trainers” at the forefront and seeks to strengthen the training and teaching competencies of these people so that they are better able to serve the refugees in their midst. In order to do this, TUT will use the preexisting networks and resources of participating churches to create a high quality structure of best practices and training resources for “unknown trainers”.

Due to its extensive work with refugees through the RCH Refugee Integration Work and the charity organization of the church, the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, the RCH is well-placed to be an active church partner for the TUT program. The aim of the project is to improve the training and teaching education of volunteers who work within the framework of refugee movement in Europe through a standardized system. TUT seeks to help “unknown trainers” gain recognized and useful qualifications and certification; the program will also empower teachers so that they are able to take an active stand against all forms of discrimination and racism, to educate children and young people in media literacy, to meet the needs of pupils from diverse backgrounds, to impart common values, and to prevent and combat intolerance.

The project, which is European in scale, must be transnational due to the long and diverse routes that are used by refugees. Those who are fleeing their homelands should have opportunities to receive support and help in a similar, standardized, well-structured, and highly qualified way in all of the countries that they may travel through. The partner churches taking part in the TUT project are well-connected to other churches, have a similar interest in helping refugees, and have complimentary experiences in voluntary work and informal volunteer education.

“Unknown trainers” working with refugees in Europe are in need of better access to quality training offers, increased competencies, and training opportunities that are certified and standardized. The TUT project is innovative because of its focus – on the informal education of highly motivated volunteers in a particular track of work.

TUT will have five international meetings starting in November 2016 and ending in summer 2018, taking place in Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Estonia. Through these meetings, the project aims to have a website of online training resources, a booklet and a report on the findings of their work, and regular newsletters and other forms of communication to keep interested parties up to date on their work.

While the recent wave of migration in Europe has presented many challenges, it has also provided important opportunities for everyday citizens to step up and make a difference in the lives of refugees. The education of these “unknown trainers” is of the utmost importance as the European community seeks to welcome and aid newcomers to the continent. The Train the Unknown Trainer project, though cooperation with local churches around Europe, seeks to standardize and ensure the top quality of training that volunteers who work with refugees receive. Through this important work, refugees and the communities that aid them will have a more fruitful relationship.

 

Article by Kearstin Bailey

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