Dr. Anna Katharina Schmid, lecturer at the ZHAW School of Social Work, reports from social work collaboration with Brazil, Hungary and Switzerland.
One night in South Brazil in 1996, 12 year old Júlio looked at the starry sky and asked: «Anna, what is happening right now in Switzerland?» Júlio was living at the Chácara dos Meninos de Quatro Pinheiros, a project for boys from the street, well known today to our students who have completed an internship there. Driven by his dream to visit Europe, Júlio would go on to learn English, the use of a computer and the internet, and later complete a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Twenty years later, Júlio’s younger brother Fábio (26) has made this dream come true. In August of 2016, we find ourselves with his Chácara «brother» Douglas (22) among more than 600 child and youth care professionals from 60 countries at the 33rd World Congress of FICE International. Both are students of psychology now and work with children and adolescents at risk, while I bring 20 years of learning with the Chácara to my ZHAW teaching and FICE activities.
Fábio, Douglas and I teach a workshop together with Krisztián Herczeg, director of Cseppkő child and youth home in Budapest, and Renáta, a young woman who grew up there. We discuss the successful «Pedagogy of Dreams» of the Chácara and the «Magic Drop» talent development programme from Cseppkő. Fábio and Douglas emphasise that the support they had in developing and realising their dreams was the most important factor in their development.
Krisztián Herczeg and I meanwhile present the «community of practice » we share with child and youth home directors in Hungary and Switzerland, in collaboration with authorities and FICE networks. Involving children and youths, we want to learn from each other and implement approaches to better support young people in taking their development into their own hands, creating and realising their individual ideas of the future. Coordinating the project on behalf of our Institute of Management and Social Policy and cooperating with the Institute of Childhood, Youth and Family, I can see that the projects’ focus on participatory quality development and learning processes has the potential to further inspire our institute’s services.
Later, we travel to Budapest with four more experts from Brazil, Canada and Switzerland. The Directorate General for Social Affairs and Child Protection and the Cseppkő home have kindly arranged visits to child and youth homes, foster families and a Roma school. These allow for many shared moments and interesting discussions with professionals and young people. Fábio and Douglas find an immediate bond with the young Hungarians. Stories and encouragement are shared, facebook friendships confirmed. The Hungarian hosts want to maintain contact with them and gain their advice.
Back in Brazil, Fábio and Douglas, on the other hand, call a meeting at the Chácara to share what they have learnt at the Congress and in Hungary.