Name of the organization: SFERA INTERNATIONAL – Bitola
Brief description of the organization
SFERA INTERNATIONAL – Bitola is an NGO from Bitola, North Macedonia which was first formed in 2007 as an informal group and in July 2009 it was registered as an NGO. The general goal of SFERA INTERNATIONAL – Bitola is through non-formal methods to educate the population in North Macedonia about the protection of the environment, cultural and natural heritage, with the purpose to raise the awareness of all age groups about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the benefits that come with it.
Problem addressed by the good practice
The good practice addresses the integration of minorities and expats with the local population, promoting cultural differences and similarities, cultural diversity, and coexistence.
The target group is expats, foreign students, foreign volunteers, people belonging to different ethnic groups.
Summary of the good practice
The aim of the series of events called Language Café was to help foreigners living in Bitola to get to know local people and help them to integrate into society, through the common love for languages. This was a weekly event that took place in a coffee shop and we usually had volunteers from different countries coming together with locals and use English or their native language to speak with the locals (Spanish, Italian, etc.). So for example, if someone from the locals speaks Spanish, then they would chat on Spanish with the volunteers from Spain. If not, then the conversations were in English. To help the conversation going usually we had a “Conversation Jar” prepared, which contained pieces of paper with a certain topic written on. So if the people preferred, then they would use the jar as a conversation starter.
The events usually took 1 or 1.5 hours, depending on the engagement of the participants.
SFERA evaluated the activity on the spot, the people who were present gave great feedback for the event. Another way how the team evaluated the success of the event was the Facebook responses which grew from week to week, and the team would notice that the same people were coming all the time because they enjoyed it.
It is recommended to use a Café which is quiet and not very crowded so the participants can have a nice conversation and not be shy to speak in a foreign language.
Information from the events was published on SFERA’s website.