Is every child eligible to live, laugh and learn? Is every educator capable of fostering a sense of connectedness, solidarity and wellbeing inside a classroom? Is every member of a society entitled to participate, cope and succeed?
The Salzburg World Series Program decided to pose these hard talking questions not on the basis of societal stability or normality but in the perplexed framework of the refugee and migration crisis across the globe. Today there are more forcibly displaced people globally than at any time since the end of the Second World War. Over half of all refugees are children. The session of ‘Education and Workforce Opportunities for Refugees and Migrants’ aimed to produce effective and accountable recommendations to tackle complex modern problems. The Seminar managed to address specific challenges in the global community, setting the goal of positive change for refugees, migrants and children mainly in and about the educational systems. The sixty-six cross-generational participants coming from all over the world were introduced to and asked about new insights from cutting edge research, assessment and practice around social emotional learning, modernized language policies and groundbreaking use of technology to help communities thrive.
From my point of expertise, I found extremely fruitful some key discussions on ‘What kind of policies can increase empathy and resilience in displaced populations?’, ‘How can we exchange the effect of stress and trauma to refugee and migrant children with feelings of wholeness and engagement in order to increase success in later life?’ and ‘Why atypical education such as play and other forms of self-expression are proved to have impactful effect on creating healthier societies?’. Indeed, play can become the Trojan horse of learning. Technology can become a super power for wholeness. And social and emotional learning can guarantee advantageous coexistence. However, I sensed that sustainability, consistency and ownership should be implemented as core principles in planning and policy making.
Overall, high quality characteristics of the Seminar were planned, organized and perfectly executed which in turn cultivated the feeling of belonging and intensified the notion of inquiry. It was a highly interactive program based on a mixture of thought provoking panel discussions, equity based participation, curated conversations, pure knowledge exchange, informal interactions, constructive diversities, collective working and well-established acceptance. Additionally, the picturesque setting of Schloss favored networking and relieved me from the demanding task pace. Last but not least, a Salzburg Statement will be jointly drafted to respond to key questions on the subject and serve as a call to action for global stake holders and international institutions.
Usually, psychologists correlate the depth of emotions and the vividness of memories to the significance of the experience that created them. Retrospectively, being a fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar generates energizing feelings along with lively pictures filling my heart and my mind. Hence, I am being reassured that time will let these memories untouched.
Photo credit: Salzburg Global Seminar/Katrin Kerschbaumer