Polish and Norwegian students learned from each other at Utøya

29 students and 11 teachers from Poland and Norway gathered in Oslo and at Utøya for three days of democracy learning in September. The international nature of the group changed perspectives and strengthened the peer to peer learning of the training.

The training started with an introduction at the EWC offices in Oslo and then continued with a visit to the July 22 Centre. At the centre, the students curated their own exhibitions about the terror attacks 22 july 2011 in Oslo and Utøya. The staff at the centre noticed a different dynamic than they had seen with Norwegian groups;

"Norwegian groups of students often focus on the response to the terror attacks and the rose marches. The international nature of the group resulted in a more global perspective than we usually see", said Anne Talsnes from the 22 July Centre

After the visit to the 22 July Centre, the training continued at the island of Utøya. The programme had a particular focus on hate speech, and how to identify and take action against it, as well as sharing of experiences between schools and countries. The students took part in a range of discussions, reflection exercises and other mixed-group activities based on real examples and their own experiences. The students will further share their experiences and knowledge with their peers.

Monika Koszyńska and Sonia Ruszkowska from EWC's project partner Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews believe that the setting at Utøya gave the training a seriousness it would never have had at a different location.

"Carrying out the same activities at normal workshops anywhere can be a great experience, but this training will have a bigger impact. We had a feeling that all the students took the tasks very seriously, also the task to pass on the knowledge to their peers. They were highly motivated and want to work towards a better understanding of hate speech and how to overcome it. The students want to keep on going and continue working. Most of them have prepared whole campaigns they will carry out at their own schools".

What did the students themselves think about the training and being at Utøya? See their reactions in this video interview.

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