Interview with the project partner AFEdemy
Jonas Bernitt, AFEdemy, Academy on Age-Friendly Environments in Europe B. V.
The Smart for Democracy and Diversity (SDD) project has been running since December 2020 and will end in July 2023. As the completion of the various learning offers such as the trainer manual or the educational game approaches, it is a good time to review and reflect on the joint work. This was also the subject in the following interview with Javier Ganzarain, Willeke van Staalduinen and Jonas Bernitt from the Dutch project partner AFEdemy. Within the project, AFEdemy was involved in developing, planning, and implementing the educational game that will soon be released, the development of the learning platform and the dissemination activities.
Why did AFEdemy join the SDD project as a partner?
As AFEdemy, we deal with issues around smart healthy and age-friendly environments that aim to promote independent living, digitalization, social inclusion and increased health and well-being. In this context, it also became a concern for us to address the issue of discrimination as a partner in the SDD project, as the problem is constantly on the rise. In Europe, for example, political mobilization is showing an increasing polarization of xenophobic issues. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to communicate the topic in a conscientious manner, as ways of thinking in connection with discrimination are often linked to stereotypes or narratives spread by the media and in private. This is exactly where the SDD education framework comes in, it tries to recognize and expose subconscious and induced stereotypes from everyday situations.
Another reason for the cooperation was our long and close cooperation with the project coordinator ISIS and the project partner SHINE2Europe, which developed a good working structure over several projects.
What did you like most thus far in the project? Why?
The task we liked best in SDD was to transform the information from the interviews conducted within the project, into a scene on the topic of racial profiling for the SDD educational game. In the respective scene 5.1, players can investigate in dialogue with the game character Roy, how experienced discrimination limits the sense of security of the people affected. In this context, the development of all the game scenes was an instructive and creative process that was based on reported experiences.
What is the most important thing you learned or taken away from the project thus far? Why?
Our team has been impressed by the direct exchange with those affected by discrimination within the project. In some cases, it was shocking to see the forms of structural discrimination that people experience in Europe. For example, they mentioned problems in contact with public offices or executive forces such as the police, who, as state representatives, often still proceed according to discriminatory stereotypes. Other cases also concerned discrimination in everyday situations, where it was almost normal for the interviewees to be asked how well they speak the national language. Through the interviews led in the partner countries, we were able to see how quickly discriminatory stereotypes are also subconsciously reflected in linguistic actions and how painful this is for the psyche and the sense of belonging of those affected.
In the context of this sensitive information, AFEdemy was responsible for coordinating the dissemination tasks. Here, the individual experiences were summarised by person, anonymised, and shared each month through the communication channels. The various articles explaining people’s perspectives can be found in the News section of the SDD website. In addition, the experiences are also integrated into the game situations of the upcoming SDD game.
What are the next steps you will work on in the project?
The next and final step for AFEdemy will be finalising the learning platform, including the educational game’s implementation and documents such as the trainer manual. The platform will be completed by July 2023.
In summary, we at AFEdemy are looking forward to the final phase of the project and the free and public use of the SDD educational offer!