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'Coloured Glasses' refers to the well-known analogy of the sunglasses which represent the cultural filters through which we observe and interpret reality. In Youth For Understanding, Coloured Glasses has come to refer to a set of workshops designed to build young people's cultural self awareness, leading them into cultural understanding by introducing them to the concepts of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination.

The aim of Coloured Glasses workshops is to allow young people to examine their own attitudes towards their own cultures as well as other cultures, and to gain an understanding of issues such as culture and identity, intercultural communication, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and inequality, human rights and responsibility, in order to develop their intercultural and global citizenship competences. The Coloured Glasses workshops can be conducted with school pupils, youth clubs and other relevant organisations. The workshop design is flexible enough to be customised for different age groups, time constraints and specific needs of the participants.

The Coloured Glasses workshops are considered as a non-formal education activity. They are lively, and engage participants in simulations and role plays that allow them to experience some aspects of intercultural interaction. The simulations are followed by group discussions where they can express their feelings and difficulties encountered during the exercises and relate them to cultural theories introduced by the facilitator. This kind of learning is called experiential learning, as the participants have the chance to be actively involved in their own learning and then relate it to logical theories presented.

The Coloured Glasses project has been started by a number of YFU volunteers in the 90’s and spread around European national organisations. The Coloured Glasses project was first initiated by European Education Exchange - Youth for Understanding (EEE-YFU), in the frame of the European Voluntary Service (EVS) in February 2001. In 2012, EEE-YFU partnered with nine YFU organisations in order to run 'The World's Coloured Glasses' workshops with 15 EVS volunteers in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

In the frame of the “Coloured Glasses:  Expanding Intercultural Education” project (CGrow), the following activities will be implemented:

  • Coloured Glasses workshops for more than 20,000 young people
  • Training courses for Regional Coordinators and School Ambassadors
  • E-Learning Modules for Local Volunteers
  • Regional Training Courses with Flying Trainers from other countries
  • Development of a common Coloured Glasses Quality Assurance Framework
  • Development of online evaluation tools
  • Publication of manuals for teachers and youth workers in 6 languages
  • Pilot Testing Workshops targeting teachers and youth workers
  • A scientific study on the impact of Coloured Glasses
  • Regional launch events
  • Networking initiatives
  • A European Conference on Intercultural Education in Schools and Youth work

One part of this project will focus on bringing Coloured Glasses to six regions where it does not currently exist. This will be done through investing in creating new regional volunteer groups who are supported and trained in facilitating Coloured Glasses workshops. Over the course of the project, over 150 volunteers in 6 regions (plus a 7th at national level in Germany) will be recruited who will deliver workshops to more than 20,000 young people.

Via this project, new manuals will be developed to deliver Coloured Glasses to those who work with young people: teachers and youth workers. The new and adapted content will be tested and then translated into six additional languages for a wide dissemination.

Coloured Glasses as a best practice will be disseminated in several ways, including through online, social and traditional media; through presentations and national and regional events of project partners and other relevant entities. A scientific study will test and research its impact on the development of intercultural competences. A European Conference will bring together policy makers, youth workers and leaders from the field of formal education to debate and explore the state of the art in intercultural education.