MiraDoor aims at building an intercultural community: an open space for everyone to connect and learn from each other while shaping together a stronger, more cohesive society, together with migrants and refugees living in Hungary.
MiraDoor is an intercultural community space in Budapest, Hungary, managed by MIRA! intercultural community (Artemisszió Foundation) and Open Doors Hungary, open since 2018. MiraDoor is a tool evolving thanks to the confluence of the methodologies developed by these two organisations/communities. Members of the MIRA! Intercultural Community share a common vision of society, according to which all people living together in the country deserve to feel recognised and supported, irrespective of their ‘labels’ like citizenship, legal status, place of origin, culture, religion, age, socio-economic status, or colour of the skin. MIRA! offers, therefore, a space of encounter, the possibility of participating in-, and contributing to collective programs and it encourages intercultural learning and exchange of competences. Open Doors is a community, which works for social inclusion and intercultural dialogue with the tools of creativity and design. MiraDoor is a community space that is both a physical space of encounter for the Mira community and a “door” to the public, welcoming whoever is interested in joining. The events where members of the Hungarian society and community members can meet in a relaxed manner are an essential part of their efforts to raise awareness and change public attitudes.
MiraDoor as a tool is shaped by the approach of Mira community and Open Doors Hungary. MIRA! functions as an intercultural community, i.e. a space where migrants of different statuses and Hungarian citizens can learn from each other, support each other and spend time together. Within Mira! Intercultural Community they organise and implement activities for the community members, as well as open public events. They have activities that develop soft skills (e.g. communication, problem-solving, conflict management, empathy, advocacy skills), improve self-confidence and competences in the Hungarian language, thus contribute to decreasing the marginalisation in the society, and provide orientation in everyday life in Hungary. All these activities involve volunteers from Hungarian society, which is a way to achieve and support desegregation. At the same time, it is the best way to mobilise Hungarian citizens to stand up against racist and xenophobic attitudes. Throughout the years they have developed their own toolbox, many elements of which are specific to them. They have established an orientation club for newcomers, they have their own curriculum for labour market training, and they operate a counselling system for labour market integration. They run a mentorship program and a language course program with volunteers; they regularly organise community programs including members of the host community, including a women’s club and encounters of our football team, which regularly trains and plays friendly matches with amateur football clubs. The Mira community introduced the Council of Mira as a way of involving members fully into the planning and the management of the programs that also reassures the community’s sustainability. In the mentoring program, the volunteer mentors meet weekly with their mentees and work together for the commonly defined goals, such as practising Hungarian, discovering the city, managing everyday issues or simply answering questions about living in Hungary. They work together by walking, discussing, studying or playing board games. Mentors are locals, Hungarians or foreigners, who feel already at home in Hungary. They know how to settle different matters, for example, how to find a doctor, how to open a bank account or how to register for kindergarten. They know which are the good places to go out or where you can learn to play the guitar. Among the members of MIRA, there are foreigners who have been living in Hungary for a shorter or longer period and also refugees who have recently arrived in Hungary. To them, to feel like a part of society, it is crucial to learn Hungarian quickly and well. Sometimes English comes also well to start their professional life. For the voluntary teachers, they offer a preparatory training, and regular exchange of experiences are possible during the program. Training is launched when at least 15 people come together. Besides this, being part of this community people can practice not only Hungarian, English but other foreign languages (Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, French) in small learning groups and at the open Tandem Nights as well. Their volunteers give tutoring classes for those who would like to pass a driving licence exam. Open Doors Hungary’s active action uses architecture and visual communication. Architecture, as a tool, can contribute to the development of creative spatial problem-solving. Active acquaintance with the new built environment is a prerequisite for the processing of traumas resulting from the loss of a home. Visual communication as a global language is a tool for intercultural communication and self-expression. Working together develops new competencies and results in shared ownership and community. During the activity, the participants themselves become part of the planning process, and the outcome is made following their decisions. “Design” as a problem-solving method can thus set a model for solving other problems as well. The workflow of problem-solving, planning, implementation teaches the participants that the issues raised can be solved with the help of appropriate tools. MiraDoor as an open community space regularly organises public events for host society members not yet involved in voluntary work in the Mira community which eventually become channels to engage more closely with their community. They regularly organise movie club, concerts, discussions and debates around migration issues and board game nights where people can meet. MiraDoor gives home to celebrations, like religious holidays from all over the world, World Refugee Day, International Children’s day. They celebrate the “Bokréta festival” that aims to involve the local neighbourhood. It is a creative space that enables encounter and learning. The programs are open, and the community is open as well: people who have an idea, can initiate an activity and shape the agenda. Besides their football team, they have yoga twice in a week in MiraDoor. Taste Mira! is a series of events with cooking classes, special dinners and everything around food and culture. In their home restaurant, people can meet new people and learn their stories and recipes. In the creative hub, they invite their members to hold creative workshops: they can make Afghan Kites, to sew with Iranian, Hungarian or Egyptian motifs and even the fusion of these all. Essential elements of the MiraDoor tool are: Open space, interested persons can join the public events, and if they wish so, they can become part of the Mira community. A space created based on the process of collective design and space is being shaped together with the community. Space of encounter, space of collective learning, where everyone’s knowledge is important and recognised, and people can mutually learn from each other. Involves the local community. The mentorship program, through direct and regular encounters with volunteers, offers an opportunity to establish personal connections. Learning through creativity. Activities like cooking or crafts allow for connection beyond verbal language. Everyone’s knowledge is valued and useful. (Due to Covid19, the activities of MiraDoor went online, keeping the idea of open doors and keep building the intercultural community through a wide range of online activities.) More info and contact: https://www.facebook.com/MiraDoorHungary
Open Doors Hungary is a project that sets up a complex program for young unaccompanied refugees and asylum seekers who come to the country, with the tools of visual communication, architecture and design. In January 2013, they started weekly creative sessions based on active action, creativity and art. Their long-term goal was to make refugee youth active participants in the key activities of the society. In their work, they jointly renovated their community spaces, created a multifunctional visual communication game, and transformed an abandoned pool into a garden cinema and an outdoor community space. An important part of their program is the involvement of Hungarian peers. Open Doors Hungary, using graphic and architectural elements, strives for a two-way realisation of the integration process through art. Their methods focus on active, creative and community action, non-formal and interactive transfer of culture, the establishment of cooperation and dialogue between refugees and their Hungarian peers, and the topic’s introduction to the public. Open Doors Hungary is part of the Útilapu Hálózat. Útilapu Hálózat is the Hungarian branch of Service Civil International (SCI), an association organising voluntary programmes. Artemisszio was established in 1998. They started to work with asylum seekers and refugees in 2005, in close collaboration with the then-existing reception centres: Bicske, Debrecen and Békéscsaba, and ever since they have followed all the changes in the asylum procedures and institutions closely. Since 2005 they have continuously managed integration programs for migrants. In 2015 when it became clear that the government would stop providing for integration through the European AMIF program, they decided to change strategy and created an intercultural community to offer safe space for forced and voluntary migrants. The Mira! Intercultural Community was set up with the help of UNHCR in 2016, and they have succeeded to run it ever since continuously. Artemisszio occupies a unique position amongst the Hungarian migration-oriented NGOs. Their self-definition as an intercultural organisation puts them in equal distance between newcomers and the host society. They have always considered their work of integration as mediation: we simultaneously offer services towards migrants on the one hand, and influence public opinion, on the other, they have always considered these two facets of their work as inseparable. In the present context, where the Hungarian government refuses to provide resources for integration to persons of concern to UNHCR and an important part of the Hungarian society has shifted from covert racism to open hostility towards migrants, MiraDoor has an important gap-filling role in the Hungarian landscape of civil society organisations. Credits: Artemisszió Foundation - MIRA! Community https://artemisszio.eu/mira/ https://artemisszio.blog.hu https://www.facebook.com/ArtemisszioAlapitvany Open Doors Hungary https://utilapu.hu/open-doors/ https://www.facebook.com/OpenDoorsHungary Regarding the intercultural community approach, they have been inspired by: SINGA France https://www.singafrance.com
MIRA! Intercultural Community