Nexes Interculturals – Critical Thinking and Youth Participation: Creating Links
Year of production: 2023
Nexes Interculturals is a wonderfully diverse non-profit organisation that operates in the heart of Barcelona and enhances the
media literacy of young people with the aim of fostering sustainable social transformation and boosting active participation. They work locally and transnationally and are promoting democracy,
human rights and the fight against any kind of discrimination. How does Nexes connect all these topics and activities? Why do they prioritise developing the
critical thinking of young people? Read on to learn more and become inspired!
I met with Davide Tonon, the CEO of Nexes, who has expanded his reach into different fields during his twenty years of work in the youth field. Davide’s approach on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is primarily through the concept of intercultural learning. Together with Maria Couto Escudero, who has a degree in pedagogy, they run Nexes with dedication. The name of the organisation means “links”, and this shows in all levels of their work.
at the core of the work
They explained to me that one of the most important aspects of “linking” is connecting
Davide says that 70 different languages are spoken in Raval, a region of Barcelona where Nexes coordinates special tours to improve cultural understanding: “It’s like having a little world together. So, what do you do with that? You can crash or you can try to make something interesting. That’s basically the intercultural learning approach that we promote.”
With Migrantour, the migrants who have moved to Barcelona introduce visitors of Barcelona to the places that are important to them, such as a language school, a community garden built in memory of those killed by the police during the conflict, a design shop opened by migrants from Africa and many more similar initiatives. This is an opportunity to see the city through the eyes of migrants and notice stories that are not being promoted in mainstream tourism trips.
Warm welcome in a community garden with a tragic story
I also had the chance to take one of these tours led by young migrants. We, with a group of people, were taken to the Raval neighbourhood in Barcelona, which at first glance seemed like an ordinary street covered in beautiful murals. But then we were told that it had a different significance. In 2013, a local man had died on this spot due to police violence. As the crime has not yet been solved, a community garden was created in his memory to raise awareness of social inequality.
At first glance, it seemed incomprehensible that there could be a garden on this narrow street. However, we were soon led to a little paradise which opened out for us in the heart of Barcelona, a rich and lush place with plants, a rest area and a children’s playground – all full of life and local people spending time together. The cosy community garden called Plaza a Juan Andres Benitez, assembled from self-made decorations, felt like a little oasis in Raval, which is often said to be one of the most dangerous areas in the entire city. Rumours that had not left us untouched.
On entering the garden, we were warmly welcomed by people with friendly faces who asked us to take a seat at a large table in the middle of the square. An older Colombian man standing at the end of the table told us how he had to flee his home because it was no longer safe to be there. He shared stories of living in Barcelona, community work and how Colombia always remains in his heart. As a thank you for being his guests, he offered us delicious home-made arepas, grilled corn cakes and a sweet drink from Columbia’s kitchen.
Our group on the
After the refreshing snack, we were invited to visit a shop run by people who risked their lives to come to Europe through the African deserts. Hearing their stories gave us much food for thought but it was also inspiring. Seeing how they have fought for their rights to start a legitimate business and sell their own clothes and handicrafts; it is proof of how giving space and opportunities to marginalised groups can benefit both the locals and the migrants.
The participants in our group all agreed that this kind of experience increases empathy, helps to see another side of culture and opens narratives that are not dominant in the media. This, in turn, is part of Nexes’s long-standing mission. As Maria says, they work every day to put their small piece of the puzzle into the big picture of global justice.
How good of a manipulator are you?
In addition to bringing hidden narratives to the fore, one of Nexes’s areas of activity in their own words is game-based learning. Nexes sees games as tools for social transformation. Topics such as gender issues, solidarity economy and interculturality are dealt with through various educational games.
For example, there is a game named “Posem-nos les ulleres”, where the participants need to place themselves in the shoes of different people, which allows us to reflect on the privileges and discriminations they face in different situations. They have developed a witty game named “ Social Inclusion out of the Box”, which deals with the problem of social exclusion in society. In the game directed at young people, the monsters of social exclusion have invaded the Earth. The players need to become superheroes who build magic bridges capable of transforming the monsters into acts of inclusion.
They also introduced me to one of their most important games “The Manipulator”, which aims to raise an understanding of
Maria believes that through these games, which offer a common learning space, they can give young people different perspectives. She finds it to be really important to bring