Motivational speeches and disputes on preserving the Roma culture and the right to education – encounters at the Annual meeting of the Law and Humanities Program scholars in Chisinau

'It is pleasure to meet the collective intelligence of Roma youth in one room', said Nadir Redzepi, the Executive Director of REF while welcoming the Russian, Moldovan and Ukrainian participants at the Law and Humanities Program Annual conference. The convention was held in Chisinau, Moldova on 5-6 July 2018, with 40 participants from the aforementioned countries, and also representatives of REF Headquarters.

'You are probably the first generation of university students in your families, and you are the one per cent of the highly educated Roma within the entire populations of your countries. This means that Roma Education Fund is still at the beginning of its work. Education will not necessarily turn you into better persons, rather, it will guide your drive to help your communities. REF’s investment in you means that you take ownership and leadership to change the Roma collective situation. You need to keep on the road REF has paved and bring in new commitments and responsibilities. REF’s new strategy for 2020-2030 counts largely on Roma students. We see your potential to be our partners and continue REF’s vision up to 2030 in terms of leadership, commitment to public service, including the focus on employment, and being proud of your identity and activism', Redzepi added.

During the two-day conference, REF’s LHP beneficiaries and alumni discussed topics such as is it possible to attract more Roma to higher education, how to develop social intelligence among the Roma youth through collective and individual approaches; how to change the mentality of Roma parents and the attitude of the teachers who frequently discriminate and demotivate Roma students; what are the dimensions of leadership among the Roma educated youth and how could LHP beneficiaries contribute to their communities through their higher education knowledge, and more.

The participants created performances in six groups on the topic of the recent hate crime committed in the Ukraine which happened a week ago. A young Roma man was murdered by a far-right gang during an attack on a temporary Roma settlement in Lviv. The young activists came up with a variety of arguments and solutions on the case.

The LHP beneficiaries have also put forward the issue of securing internships and employment for the educated Roma in Russia, Moldova and the Ukraine.

The LHP scholarship is funded by the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future /EVZ/ Foundation, REF’s partner in tertiary education interventions in Russia, Moldova, Ukraine and previously – in Poland. The annual conference was sponsored by Roma Education Fund and the International Renaissance Foundation.