Living Libraries // Živé knižnice

Last Friday, I became more or less incidentally, but fortunately, a book in a living library. What does this actually mean though? Before I experienced it first-hand, I had no idea myself. A day before, our coordinator told me that the organizers of the Living Library were missing one book, and asked me if I was interested in becoming a substitute. As I had only faintly heard before that this concept was a strong tool in human rights education, I thought it was a good opportunity now to learn more about it. So the idea behind Living Libraries is the following: people act as book, they tell their story, others listen to it, and after some time the story finishes and the book is returned to the library. Telling a story is, among other things,  a means to confront people with their prejudices and stereotypes, whether it is about homosexuality, disabilities, depression or addictions – or any other topic people tend to be silent about.  Continue reading

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Parents reborn – movie night and discussion

On Friday, 14th of June, in cooperation with CNK Záhrada, we organized a second movie night with a discussion on the topic LGBTI –a group of people with, a minority sexual orientation. For this occasion, Emanuela, the initiator of the project, proposed the wonderful Italian documentary Parents reborn (Due Volte Genitori) which was created with the support of European grant program Daphne. The film presents especially the personal experiences of parents about the process, which they had to go trough, after they got to know that their children are homosexual. Emanuela organized an official projection of the film on our event and also arranged the creation of the Slovak subtitles for the film. Mainly thanks to her long-term effort, it turned out again that also in Slovakia is possible to organize successful events also on this topic. Although….

The event was promoted (mostly in Slovak and English) through social networks, e-mails and also official posters. We were curious to see who would come in the end. Just before six p. m., when the event was planned to begin, in center Zahrada mainly young people started coming. But paradoxically the most of them were foreigners: other volunteers and friends of the volunteers we host, but also foreign students and interns and so on.

In the audience there were also several representatives of the older generations, but again mainly foreigners. The projection took place with the help of Stanka, local interpreting student, thanks to whom it was possible also for people who don’t speak enough Slovak to understand the Slovak subtitles. That allowed everybody to listen to the extremely personal experiences of parents and relatives who made a huge effort to fight against their own prejudices, but also against the prejudices of others, so with their painful “rebirth” they became more integrated and “richer” people. The protagonists of this Italian documentary are real characters, who already don’t perceive the “difference” of their children as a burden, but as an enrichment for their family and for the whole society, too. It was really touching to follow the fate of these people as it was “at first hand”. Even more, so as thanks to this film they let us so deep into their own privacy. I think that they did this not only for their children to let other people identify with them and educate the society, but just for all these young people for whom the non-acceptance of their parents and the society is often a reason of very sad acts and destinies.

The film was seen by about 25 participants and most of them stayed also for the discussion, which took place after the film. During the discussion we, as organizers, were surprised by several things. Firstly – the fact that people wanted to discuss at all: the film was so deep and touching, that we had the feeling that the majority of people would prefer to digest quietly the impressions from it and obviously retreat after the projection. We were wrong: the majority of the participants stayed and the discussion was long and good. Secondly: the discussion was in English. But this was a logical consequence of the composition of the audience of the discussion. Among the people participating in the discussion there were just five Slovaks, four of them were organizers of the event. Therefore the common language of the majority was English, so our interpreter didn’t have to translate. Most of the participants described situations, connected with tolerance, or intolerance towards the people with minority sexual orientation in their countries. Therefore we got to know also some facts and news from Russia, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, France for instance. Thanks to our experienced moderator Rado Sloboda from Amnesty International we made clear some details, the respective terminology and real facts about this field. We even tackled the reason why to such discussions come many more women than men.

Also thanks to the personal qualities of all the participants, I got the feeling of a very good event, which also convinced me that discussions about this and other similar topics related to tolerance towards difference and freedom as such are very needed in Slovakia. In my opinion it is worrying that the Slovak community pays so small attention to a topic, whose importance is evident and confirmed also in European grant schemes, including programs for non-formal education of young people. Ignoring this important topic, which directly involves approximately every sixth Slovak family, is actually discouraging and certainly says a lot about what kind of people we are. And also –on this we have a lot of work to do.

Even more luckily that here we have these young foreigners!

Andy

(Coordinator of the volunteers)

Translated into English by Vessy with the big help of Manu (for correction some inaccuracies with the translation :))

Druhý raz rodičom – filmový večer s diskusiou

piatok 14. júna sme v spolupráci s partnermi zorganizovali v CNK Záhrada druhý filmový večer s diskusiou k téme LGBTI, teda ľudí s menšinovou sexuálnou orientáciou. Emanuela, autorka tohto projektu, pre túto príležitosť navrhla vynikajúci taliansky dokumentárny film Druhý raz rodičom (Due volte genitori), ktorý bol vytvorený vďaka jednej z európskych grantových schém (Daphne). Film prezentuje najmä osobné svedectvá rodičov, týkajúce sa procesov, ktorými prechádzali po tom, ako ich vlastné deti informovali o svojej homosexualite. Emanuela dohodla oficiálnu projekciu filmu na našom podujatí, aj sprostredkovala vytvorenie slovenských titulkov. Najmä vďaka jej dlhodobému úsiliu sa opäť ukázalo, že aj na Slovensku sa aj na takúto tému dá zorganizovať úspešné podujatie. Hoci …

Podujatie bolo propagované (najmä v slovenčine a angličtine) cez sociálne siete, e-maily, aj oficiálne plagáty. Boli sme zvedaví, kto nakoniec príde. Pred šiestou večer, kedy mala akcia plánovaný začiatok, sa v centre Záhrada začali schádzať najmä mladí ľudia. Paradoxne však nimi boli predovšetkým cudzinci. Ďalší dobrovoľníci a priatelia nami hosťovaných dobrovoľníčok, ale aj zahraniční študenti, stážisti a podobne. V obecenstve bolo aj niekoľko zástupcov starších generácií, opäť však v drvivej väčšine cudzincov. Projekcia prebehla za asistencie Stanky, miestnej študentky tlmočníctva, vďaka ktorej mohli slovenským titulkom porozumieť aj ľudia, ktorí slovenčinu dostatočne neovládajú. Umožnila im tak byť svedkami mimoriadne osobných svedectiev rodičov a rodín, ktoré urobili obrovský kus práce v boji s vlastnými, ale aj cudzími predsudkami, aby sa svojím bolestným „prerodom“ stali integrovanejšími a „bohatšími“ ľuďmi. Protagonistami tohto talianskeho dokumentu, sú totiž reálne postavy, ktoré už nevnímajú inakosť svojich detí ako ťažké bremeno, ale naopak ako obohatenie vlastnej rodiny, ale aj celej spoločnosti. Bolo veľmi dojímavé sledovať osudy týchto ľudí takpovediac z prvej ruky. Tým viac, že nás vďaka tomuto filmu pustili hlboko do svojho súkromia. Myslím, že to urobili nielen kvôli vlastným deťom, „nastaveniu zrkadla“ a vzdelávaniu spoločnosti, ale práve aj kvôli tým mladým ľuďom, pre ktorých je neprijatie rodičmi a spoločnosťou nezriedka dôvodom tých najsmutnejších činov a osudov …

Celkovo film vzhliadlo asi 25 divákov, z ktorých väčšina zostala aj na diskusiu, ktorá po filme nasledovala. V rámci diskusie nás ako organizátorov prekvapilo pár vecí. Po prvé, že ľudia vôbec chceli diskutovať: film bol natoľko hlboký a dojímavý, že sme mali pocit, že väčšina divákov bude skôr chcieť potichu vstrebávať dojmy z neho a zrejme sa po projekcii uberú do ústrania. Mýlili sme sa: väčšina divákov zostala a diskusia bola dlhá a kvalitná. Po druhé: diskutovalo sa v angličtine. Toto však bolo logickým výsledkom zloženia účastníkov diskusie. Medzi diskutujúcimi boli len piati Slováci alebo Slovenky, z toho štyria z radov organizátorov podujatia. Spoločným jazykom drvivej väčšiny diskutujúcich bola teda angličtina a naša tlmočníčka nemusela tlmočiť. Viacerí diskutujúci opisovali situáciu okolo tolerancie, resp. intoleranice voči ľuďom s menšinovou sexuálnou orientáciou v ich krajinách. Dozvedeli sme sa teda aj niektoré fakty a novinky napr. z Ruska, Nemecka, Talianska, Bulharska, Francúzska. Vďaka prítomnosti a vzdelaniu moderátora diskusie Rada Slobodu z Amnesty International, sme si urobili jasno aj v niektorých detailoch, súvisiacich s terminológiou a reálnymi faktami z tejto oblasti. Dotkli sme sa aj témy, prečo na takéto diskusie prichádza omhoho viac žien než mužov…

Aj vďaka osobným kvalitám diskutujúcich vo mne zostal pocit veľmi dobrého podujatia, ktoré ma zároveň utvrdilo v tom, že diskusia na túto a podobné témy súvisiace s toleranciou inakosti a slobodou ako takou, je na Slovensku veľmi potrebná. Z môjho pohľadu je alarmujúce, že slovenská verejnosť má zatiaľ len veľmi malý záujem o tému, ktorej dôležitosť je zjavná a potvrdená aj európskymi grantovými schémami, vrátane programu neformálneho vzdelávania mladých ľudí. Ignorovanie tejto dôležitej témy, ktorá sa však bytostne týka približne každej šiestej slovenskej rodiny, je skutočne zarážajúca a určite hovorí veľa o tom, akí sme. Ale aj o tom, na čom treba pracovať.

Ešte šťastie, že tu máme tých mladých cudzincov !

Andy

(Koodrinátor dobrovoľníkov)

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14. júna bude náš druhý filmový večer o LGBT

Po veľkom úspechu prvého filmového večera 17. mája, ktorým sme si pripomenuli Medzinárodný deň proti homofóbii, teraz pripravujeme druhý filmový večer o právach LGBT, ktorý sa bude konať v Záhrade – Centre nezávislej kultúry (Námestie SNP 16, Banská Bystrica) v piatok 14. júna o 18:00.

Tentoraz sa budeme touto kontraverzou témou zaoberať z úplne inej perspektívy: budeme premietať taliansky dokumentárny film Due volte genitori (Druhý raz rodičom), režiséra Claudia Cipellettiho, v produkcii Ageda Onlusa, s podporou od Európskej komisie, z projektu Daphne II „Záležitosti rodiny“. Film nazerá priamo do srdca rodiny a na to, ako sa rodina  prispôsobuje informácii, že ich syn alebo dcéra sú homosexuáli. Matky a otcovia sa vyrovnávajú so svojimi zničenými očakávaniami a začínajú akceptovať svoj vlastný „prerod“ ako rodiča, mimo samotného faktu homosexuality.

flyer 2 volte genitori_2

Film uvedieme v taliančine so slovenskými titulkami a potom bude nasledovať diskusia v slovenčine a angličtine, moderovaná Radom Slobodom z Univerzitnej skupiny Amnesty International v Banskej Bystrici. Vďaka Tlmočníckej a prekladateľskej spoločnosti FHV UMB bude s nami aj Stanka, ktorá nám pomôže s prekladom.

Vstupné na podujatie bude dobrovoľné a sami budete môcť rozhodnúť či a akou sumou podporíte náklady centra Záhrada.

Tu je podujatie na Facebooku, aby ste nám mohli pomôcť s propagáciou akcie! Pri tejto príležitosti chcem vopred poďakovať našim partnerom pri organizácii tohto podujatia: Centru Záhrada, Amnesty International, Tlmočníckej a prekladateľskej spoločnosti FHV UMB, a prekladateľom titulkov (Roman Ries a Paulína Majerčáková).

Teším sa na stretnutie s vami v Záhrade!

On June 14 our second movie night about LGBT

After the big succes of the first movie night on May 17 to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, we are now preparing a second movie night on LGBT rights, which will take place in Záhrada Centre of Independent Culture (Námestie SNP 16, Banská Bystrica) on Friday June 14 at 6 pm.

This time we will tackle this controversial issue from a completely different point of view: we will watch the Italian documentary Due volte genitori (Parents reborn), a film by Claudio Cipelletti produced by Agedo Onlus with the support of the European Commission, Project Daphne II “Family matters”. The film looks straight into the heart of the family as it adjusts to the news that their son or daughter is homosexual. Mothers and fathers cope with their crushed expectations and begin to accept their own rebirth as parents, aside from the issue of homosexuality itself.

flyer 2 volte genitori_2

We will watch the film in Italian with Slovak subtitles and afterwards there will be a discussion in Slovak and English moderated by Rado Sloboda from the University Group Amnesty International Banská Bystrica. Thanks to the Interpreters and Translators University Agency (Tlmočnícka a prekladateľská spoločnosť FHV UMB) Stanka will be there to help us with the translation.

To take part in the movie night, you will not be asked to pay an admission fee, but you can make a voluntary offer which will go to Záhrada to cover electricity costs.

Here’s the event on Facebook, so spread the word! I also seize the opportunity to thank in advance our partners in the organisation of the event: ZáhradaUniversity Group Amnesty International Banská Bystrica, the Interpreters and Translators University Agency and and the subtitlers (Roman Ries and Paulína Majerčáková).

I hope I’ll meet you all in Záhrada!

Homophobia seen by a 17 year old young man

Last week in Italy the discussion about homophobia hit the headlines after a 17 year old young man wrote a touching letter to La Repubblica, the most important newspaper of the country. I think that the letter is really worth reading, so I would like to share it with you. Here’s a translation into English:

Dear editor,

this letter is perhaps my only alternative to suicide. The reason why I decided to write this letter is what happened in the cathedral in Paris. A man, from the right-wing political area, spectacularly committed suicide on the steps of the famous church to protest against the law passed by the French National Assembly allowing gay marriages .

In spite of the Christian morals, I believe that suicide is an act deserving respect: a person who decides to give up the most precious thing he has for his ideals deserves our respect and admiration. Nevertheless, in spite of this consideration, I can not help thinking that what happened in Paris is a vain act committed by a foolish person. The others keep on living even after we die. We are doomed to disappear, even though we rewrote the history books. If you die because you want to stop the society which is trying to evolve and become more civilized, it means that you are dumb and you are overestimating by far your power.

In reaction to the French historical law, the Italian Parliament has immediately declared that it supports the idea of equal rights for all. A promise which is much vainer than the act of a foolish. We all know that Italy is one of the most conservative countries and that it does not want to look as the most progressive. Imitating or, even worse, pretending to be as such is just enough. The Italian society shudders just at the thought that two persons of the same sex can love each other: because it is against nature, it is against religious morals or simply because it is a form of stupid hatred – stupid enough to be common in our country. We often forget that allowing homosexual marriages does not necessarily imply giving children to “abnormal” couples: it means letting two people love each other. This is what marriage is all about, especially in the Catholic mentality. So why such a fierce battle?

I am gay, I am 17 years old and this letter is my last alternative left to suicide in a barbarian society, in a world that does not accept me even though this is the way I was born. The brave ones are not those who commit suicide when they are almost 80 years old, but those who survive to adolescence with such a heavy burden, well aware of having done nothing wrong but listening to their feelings. It is not about vices or perversion. Not all of us were  lucky enough to be born eterosexual. If only there was less discrimination and more sympathy or Christian piety, everybody would stop hating people just because they, for some unknown and unfair divine will, were the lucky ones. I am not asking the Parliament to pass a law allowing homosexual marriages – I am not that foolish – I just want to be heard.

A so-called civilized country can not abandon some of its members along the road. It can not afford to do without a law against homophobia, a scourge leading many young people to commit suicide in order to find their freedom, the freedom that they lost when they started breathing. There is no wrong in being what you are. The real mistake is living pretending to be different. We are not demons, and we were not touched by the devil when we were born. We are simply unlucky and part of a changing destiny. But we are proud of it. The only thing that we ask is to live.

Some comments about our first movie night

Last Friday, to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia there was our first movie night against homophobia. We watched the French animated film Le baiser de la lune (to have more information about the film or to buy the DVD click here).

The film was released in 2010 with the aim of speaking about different forms of love with children of 9 to 11 years old, through the stories of Felix and Leon, two male fish who fall in love with each other, Agata, who’s waiting for her prince and the sun and the moon. As it’s easy to imagine, the release of a film with such an aim caused quite a big uproar in France.

I found out about the film about one year ago thanks to a French radio programme in which they interviewed the director (here’s the link). When we decided to organise some movie nights about homophobia, I immediately thought that I wanted to share with other people this special movie, so I got in touch with the director, Sébastien Watel, who immediately accepted, and we started preparing the subtitles.

The preparation of the subtitles was for me extremely interesting and rewarding because it’s something related to my big passion and work and as it was another opportunity for me to work on my Slovak.

But let’s go back to Friday. The movie night was very successful, even more successful than we expected 🙂 , because more than 30 people took part in the event and discussed about homophobia for about 2 hours. The discussion was for me really stimulating as, even though we didn’t all have the same opinion on some topics (and perhaps even more so), everybody was willing to exchange their views.

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The aim of this initiative is to fight against homophobia, but to achieve it, we don’t need to do any brain washing: we just need to discuss and share information, as I think that lack of information is at the root of all the forms of racism.

Thanks a lot to all the participants, I’m really glad that you came and shared with us your time and ideas! And also a big thank you goes to Sébastien Watel – the director of the film, Andy – my coordinator, Rado – from Amnesty International, Milan and Kristina – from Záhrada, the Interpreters and Translators University Agency (Tlmočnícka a prekladateľská spoločnosť FHV UMB), Stanka – our fantastic interpreter, Charlène – from Alliance Française, Martina – who helped me translate the subtitles and Vessy – who made the flyer.

See you on Friday June 14 at 6 pm in Záhrada for our next movie night against homophobia. We’ll watch Parents Reborn. I will soon post more information, stay tuned!

Emanuela

May 17: update on movie night Le Baiser de la Lune

Everything is ready for our first movie night! And thanks to the Interpreters and Translators University Agency (Tlmočnícka a prekladateľská spoločnosť FHV UMB) we’ll also have an interpreter who will help us translating from Slovak into French and English and viceversa.Thank you Stanka in advance!

logo uni interpreti

So, see you all in Záhrada next Friday, May 17 at 6 pm to watch Le Basier de la Lune and to discuss about homophobia.

Emanuela

On May 17 our first movie night on LGBTI

On May 17, all around the world people will celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia. There will be many events aimed at raising awanereness among people on the rights of the LGBTI community. As far as I’m concerned, I feel really close to this cause, that’s way in February I took part in the living library organised by Amnesty International dedicated to the rights of sexual minorities and I proposed to organise a series of movie nights about this important and extremely topical issue.

The series of movie nights will start on May 17 at 6 pm in Záhrada Centre of Independent Culture (Námestie SNP 16, Banská Bystrica) with the French , animated film Le baiser de la lune (The Moon’s kiss). The film is about the story of Felix, a male fish, who falls in love with Leon, another male fish. Their love is impossible, especially because Agata the cat, Felix’s “grandmother”, would like Felix to get married with a female fish.

LeBaiserDeLaLune

The film has been made to speak to children about a different form of love, but in my opinion, it deserves been watched by everyone. It just lasts 26 minutes and we will watch it in French with Slovak subtitles. After watching the film there will be a discussion. At the moment, the main language of the discussion will be Slovak, but we are thinking about asking for help to an interpreter. To take part in the movie night, you will not be asked to pay an admission fee, but you could make a voluntary offer which will go to Záhrada to cover electricity costs.

Here’s the trailer of the film in French and this is the event on Facebook. I also seize the opportunity to thank in advance our partners in the organisation of the event: Záhrada, University Group Amnesty International Banská Bystrica and Alliance Française Banská Bystrica.

I hope I’ll meet you all in Záhrada!

Emanuela

My experience as a living book

Last week I had my first experience as a living book in the first living library ever organised in Banská Bystrica. Before going in the details, perhaps it would be better to explain briefly what a living library is.

A living library is a meeting among books (people who want to share their stories) and readers (people who want to listen to those stories), moderated by a librarian. During the meeting, that can concern a specific topic or not, the books tell their stories and the readers listen. Of course it is not a monologue, as the readers can ask questions and say what they think.

179668_10200724467813294_2112817710_nThe living library I took part to was organised by Amnesty International. It took place on Friday 22 February in the school Gymnázium Andreja Sládkoviča and it mostly tackled the topic of LGBT. During the meeting there were 3 books and about 30 readers among the students of the school.

On this occasion I decided to address the issue of homophobia by telling the story of a friend of mine who is still fighting against this form of prejudice.

I really enjoyed this experience for many reasons. First of all, I had the opportunity to speak about a topic which is for me extremely important and quite controversial. Discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transexual people is a big problem in my country, but I have the impression that also in Slovakia there is a long way to go. In my opinion to win this battle, the members of the communities directly concerned should not fight alone, as also the rest of the society has to be involved.

Secondly, I was happy to meet the other books. It is a shame that I couldn’t “read” them properly, but I hope we’ll have other opportunities 🙂

Last but not least, I had the opportunity to make a lot of practise with my Slovak. Sometimes I guess it was a bit hard to understand me (one of the “readers” told me that I have a Russian accent 🙂 ), as sometimes I don’t use the correct word. The funniest moment was when I wanted to say that somebody had been beaten, which in Slovak is zbiť, but I ended up saying that he was killed, in Slovak zabiť 🙂 How 1 single letter can change the whole meaning!

I was really happy to chat with the students, even though I would have been even happier to have a longer discussion with them to know what they think and how they perceive this topic.

So thanks Zuzana, Juraj and Rado from Amnesty International for this great experience!

Click here to see more pictures

Emanuela