On 13 November, the second seminar of “Get Together”, co-hosted by the IPYG and House of Culture (Haus der Kulture) in Switzerland, was held in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. This seminar’s theme was “Embracement of Refugees and Peaceful Coexistence”.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were a total of 82.4 million refugees worldwide as of the end of 2020, which is an increase of about 2.9 million from the end of 2019. The number of refugees that is reaching a new record every year is now accounting for about 1% of the world’s population. Along with the rapidly increasing number of refugees, refugee-related topics are rising as a major issue in the international community.
For example, in Switzerland, where the event was held, it is estimated that about 115,000 refugees are living within the country as of the end of 2020 (UNHCR, Global Trend - Forced Displacement in 2020). The IPYG and Switzerland’s House of Culture have been conducting seminars since last September for peaceful coexistence between the native people and refugees, protection of refugees’ human rights, and cooperation to build the foundation for a sustainable future for refugees, etc. The members of House of Culture, local residents, and immigrants living in Switzerland have been attending these events.
Also, at this event, there was time to discuss methods of peaceful coexistence between citizens and refugees with the topics of “respect for diversity” and “value of life”, which are core topics of HWPL’s Peace Education. Through the discussion, participants learned about each other’s differences through dialogue and agreed to live in understanding and promised to have time for dialogue on a regular basis.
After the discussion, the event continued in a warm atmosphere through a party with refreshments and beauty care cultural activities to build close relationships.
The attendees of this event who had left their home countries and are settling in Switzerland especially expressed their gratitude and thought highly of the intent of this event, in which people with different languages, cultures, and backgrounds gathered in one place to understand each other and seek methods to coexist.
One attendee said, “I like the event a lot, especially that the organizers took time for me and cared for me, and I had a chance to be able to share the story of how I had to flee from home country and the pain I went through. I’m looking forward to the next event.”
Another attendee said, “I enjoyed the atmosphere and felt comfortable, and the speech reminded me of a poem I like about a garden only being beautiful because it’s made up of different flowers and plants. Because I know the feeling of being discriminated and deeply wish for a peaceful world, the speech felt very thoughtful. I’m interested in becoming an IPYG member.”
The “Get Together” seminar will continue bimonthly with the House of Culture in Switzerland.