Encounters at eye level: seven tips for diverse projects




What does it take for project organisers and participants to work together as equals? The Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies SFM has derived seven tips for project teams from the accompanying research.


Das Poster mit den 7 Tipps zum Download

Here is the poster with the 7 tips as a PDF for the pinboard or for distribution:

The 7 tips

1 Grow together

Everyone who takes part in a project shares the joy and interest in an activity. The focus is on singing, cooking, hiking, gardening or painting, for example. In the project and in communication, it is important to emphasise these shared activities. So that the focus is not on differences, but on what connects people.

2 Take a critical look together

In diverse projects, sometimes not everyone has the same amount of influence. This makes encounters at eye level more difficult. It is therefore important to take a critical look at your own attitudes and tasks in the project time and again and ask yourself as a team: "How can we ensure that everyone who wants to can take on responsibility? How is paid and unpaid work distributed in the project?" Feedback from participants can also help you discover patterns and change them.

3 Finding a common language

Communication influences and shapes encounters. If you ask questions sensitively and listen actively, you pick up on the other person. There are many ways to understand each other: for example, using the local language, a common foreign language or a sign language. Pictures can also be used. When you take photos together, you can communicate even if you speak different languages.

4 Wide open doors 

What is an easily accessible activity? These are activities that require little effort and no special knowledge from the participants.

5 Discover hidden treasures

It helps to work together as equals if project organisers and participants develop the activities together. This way, everyone who wants to can get involved. Many different talents enrich the project. For this to succeed, it requires flexible planning as well as openness and curiosity for the ideas of people with diverse experiences.

6 Create connections

Many different people come into contact with each other in an encounter project. But what happens before and after the activities? Through chat groups or social media, participants can deepen their contacts and exchange information more easily. For example, when committed participants from a poetry course send each other poems via WhatsApp chat.

7 Celebrating big and small deeds

It's great when volunteers get involved in projects where people with different cultural and linguistic experiences come together. Volunteers deserve to be recognised for this. This can take many forms: for example, a confirmation of the volunteer work carried out or a jointly organised volunteer party. However, time-consuming project work and coordination should be remunerated.

Accompanying research

In this article you can find out more about the accompanying research carried out by the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies SFM at the University of Neuchâtel.