Mistra Urban Futures

Mistra Urban Futures’ is pioneering traineeships for new arrivals. Samar Ramli from Palestine is now starting research on migration and urbanisation in Mistra Urban Futures. She is the first participant in Mistra’s initiative offering trainee places in its various research programmes to newly arrived refugees with an academic background.

When the number of refugees arriving in Sweden peaked just before Christmas 2015, Mistra’s Board wanted to make a contribution to ease the situation. They therefore decided to allocate funds so as to be able to offer traineeships to people with some kind of academic background but who have not yet become established on the Swedish labour market. The work practice is to take place within Mistra’s ongoing research programmes, in established research centres or in close association with such centres.

Read more on the Mistra website

Guess who’s coming to dinner? A cultural integration project


What is the project “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

The project was created from the bottom up by the Rete Italiana di Cultura Popolare (Italian Network of Folk Culture) and the same migrant families who felt the desire to open up themselves and their homes to meeting and sharing, with no stimulus other than their willingness and desire to “work in a network”: they offer a special family dinner, designed for those who have the “curiosity” to meet “another.”. This simple intimate experience breaks down the walls of suspicion created by a lack of awareness and a fear of different cultures. Something “magically” normal happens at the table: they talk about children, school, work, cinema and music and discover that they are so similar; they become friends and continue to meet afterwards. With a simple dinner you start from Morocco to China, Romania to Argentina, from Afghanistan to Ethiopia, sharing and telling stories of journeys, places and people: this is the idea at the heart of the project.

It is not a project of gastronomy.
“Guess who’s coming to dinner?” is a project for creating relationships.

The project “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” was launched during the 2011 edition of the International Festival of Folk Oral Culture, with a communal dinner involving over 100 people united around one table in Piazza Carlo Alberto in the heart of Turin, the dinner was prepared by the migrant families who participate in the project.

As of 2012, the project has become permanent, with an annual program and diffusion and development in all of the areas that participate and choose to promote it. The cities that propose, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” aside from Turin are Carmagnola (TO), Alessandria, Prato, Grosseto and Gavorrano, Verona, Vicenza, Roma. Barcelona and other European cities are also joining “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

How does it work?

It takes the form of a series of dinners in the private homes of migrant families and from this year also asylum seekers. The families open their homes to host a dinner for a group of people who are interested in learning about the culture, traditions and cuisine of their country of origin.

Those who express their interest can make a booking, and the day before the dinner, they discover who will be the host family and their country of origin. Guests cannot choose their preferred country or cuisine; they are guided for a night and meet people that are yet unknown to them. On the night of the dinner, they go to the indicated address. A family opens the door to their home and introduces the guests into their world: it could be that they tell stories of the journey to get here, show wedding photos or pictures of distant families but guests can also find themselves talking about children who may go to school together, their favourite sports teams, work and plans for the future.
Each guest is welcome to contribute, at their discretion, to cover the expenses of the dinner.

There is much more at stake than just a dinner, there is the opportunity to build real cultural policy from the bottom up thanks to the meeting, the proposal, and the mutual recognition. 

The diffusion of the project is thanks to evidence that shows more and more communities, whether in large cities or small towns, feel the need to begin investing in relationship capital.
Today there are citizens and “new citizens”: communities are composed of people born in this country and those who have chosen to live here coming from far away. The food, in the North as in the South of our country, is the centre around which it is easy build a first meeting, a connection: at dinner, we meet and get to know each other with simplicity. This is therefore not a project of gastronomy but a project in which the relationship with food and with friendliness are an opportunity to create human relationships between people and families. An opportunity to share private spaces that for the occasion become communal, social spaces.

The Italian Network of Folk Culture acts as a guarantor to the families who, with a gesture of great trust and private, welcome into their homes the people who want to share in this idea. The network aims to create partnerships and collaborations, to communicate what is happening throughout the country, but above all it facilitates the growth of local antennae that have the capacity to work together.

The matching grant of Fondazione CRT.

The proceeds of the “big” dinners that take place during the annual Festival of Folk Oral Culture (every year in October), are matched by Fondazione CRT. These resources are used to facilitate employment inclusion of children from migrant families, future new citizens. The resources go directly to support the families, without any mediation costs.

So far, € 10,000 has been collected, to which another € 10,000 is added from the matching grant of Fondazione CRT.

The consequences of connections

The event generates ideas, courage and a desire to do, so much so that a group of young people from Egypt, Albania, Cameroon, China and Afghanistan and other nationalities who originally met during the ‘Guess who’s coming to dinner?’ project, have proposed an online radio program to the Italian Network of Folk Culture. This project is currently being constructed.

Website of the Italian Network of Folk Culture: http://www.reteitalianaculturapopolare.org/en/


Perspektivy is a professional development programme for journalists and editors from Russia, CIS, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It is supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Fritt Ord Foundation and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Journalism around the world is undergoing huge change. Social media, 24-hour news cycles and ever increasing competition is changing the way journalism is consumed. More people than ever read and spread the news on their phones; the distinction between journalist and casual observer is increasingly hard to discern; and cross-border journalism is becoming the norm. In this increasingly noisy landscape, the Perspektivy programme believes that the role of the skilled, impartial journalist is more important than ever. However, it is questionable whether journalism is making the most of this opportunity.

Perspektivy has the following core aims:

  • To strengthen regional expertise and professional journalistic standards across the region, from the remotest areas of Siberia to the Baltic states and nations in Central Asia.
  • To reflect upon the ethical underpinnings of the journalistic profession
  • To internationalise participating journalists and connect them with one another
  • To contribute to mutual regional and international understanding.

Explore the project further here

Ave Maria

The comedy Ave Maria by director Basil Khalil has received more than ten awards and was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Now the film has been nominated for the most important award in the film industry: Ave Maria hopes to win an Academy Award in the category Short Film (Live Action).

The Robert Bosch Stiftung supported the making of the movie as a pilot project of the Film Prize for the Cooperation between young German and Arab filmmakers. The prize gives them the opportunity to work on a joint project and is awarded to three production teams during the Berlin International Filmfestival.

The Story

The silent routine of 5 Palestinian nuns in the middle of the West Bank wilderness is disrupted when a family of Israeli settlers come knocking at their door for help after crashing into the convent’s wall. The Israelis can’t operate a phone to call for assistance due to the Sabbath laws, and the Nuns have taken a vow of silence. Together they have to come up with an unorthodox plan to help them get home.

Granny’s Finest

Granny’s Finest is an organisation that runs handicraft clubs for elderly people. In this way, they can pursue their hobby while helping reduce a major problem among the elderly – loneliness. Products such as scarves , hats and gloves are designed by young creative talents, while the clubs also offers an opportunity for both young and elderly people to get to know each other.

Thanks to the efforts and commitment of about 20 volunteers, there are already many handicraft clubs established in the Netherlands. Fonds Schiedam Vlaardingen has contributed to the founding of two handicraft clubs in Vlaardingen (Hoylede) and in Maassluis – (De Tweemaster) .

Boxgirls – How boxing empowers girls and schools

Boxgirls is an innovative project supported by BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt aimed at girls and young women. It uses sports to bring about social change and it operates in Berlin Kenya and South Africa.

Heather Cameron is the mind and the “operational arm” of this initiative of social entrepreneurship. What Boxgirls is trying to do is to teach to schoolchildren in Berlin to master difficult situations without falling into violence.

More and more girls are discovering that boxing is more than just a cool sport and that traditional girlish behaviours – avoiding conflicts, being passive and eager to please – won’t take them far. In the Boxgirls training sessions, the 10- to 16-year-olds find out that hard work pays off and gain a sense of their strengths and limitations.

Visit the website

The European Foundations’ Initiative on Dementia (EFID)

Dementia is one of the most frequently occurring diseases affecting old age, and remains one of the most important challenges in European society. To live well with dementia, communities must accept and support people with the condition, and facilitate the expression of their remaining abilities. This raises enormous challenges for our ageing societies.

The European Foundations’ Initiative on Dementia (EFID) is a group of European foundations convinced that the community approach has to be developed in tackling the challenges linked to dementia. This publication, supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung provides insight into living with dementia in a community context. It provides new perspectives and proposes a necessary shift in mind-set that requires communities to stay connected with all citizens with dementia.

Support to victims of the Cephalonia earthquake

In late January 2014, the island of Cephalonia, off the coast of Greece, was struck by an earthquake. In the main town of Lixouri, one of the few physical structures on the island in place to take care of the elderly, The Home, was severely damaged. To secure emergency shelter for the older victims, the pensioners were relocated to a sports centre, poorly adapted to their everyday needs.

The JTI Foundation reacted to this loss by supporting the Lixouri Charity Foundation to purchase prefabricated accommodation better suited to the elderly and responding to their needs. Once The Home has been rebuilt, the elderly will be relocated to their permanent housing and the prefabricated houses will be kept for future use, providing all residents in Cephalonia with additional security in the event of another disaster.

Entrepreneurs for Social Change

Along the shores of the Mediterranean the effects of the economic crisis are still being felt, with high levels of youth unemployment and a stark lack of opportunity. Entrepreneurs for Social Change (E4SC) aims to support the ideas of young social entrepreneurs from the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Through a week of training and nine months of mentoring, 20 young social  entrepreneurs are given the chance to acquire the business, funding, marketing and intercultural understanding needed to help take their businesses to the next level and create positive social impact.

One of the projects to come from Entrepreneurs for Social Change is represented by the puppet you see here. Puppets 4 Kids is a project of YES Theatre, which aims to help improve the cognitive skills and psychosocial well-being of Palestinian children and youth. The YES Theatre and its partners are working to respond to local community needs, engaging with local partners to develop creativity and innovation through artistic performances, drama workshops, capacity building and cultural exchange activities.

The E4SC project was devised by the Fondazione CRT in collaboration with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Cultiva Ekspress Junior, “Slow Bridge” Project

The mirrored tiles you see here are just a few of the 5,300 customised by children in Kristiansand, Norway.

The tiles were part of a project called “Slow Bridge’’ where children were given the chance to make their mark on the urban landscape by writing or drawing their dreams on individual tiles which now line the inside of a bridge in Kristiansand. The idea came from the artist Anna Berthelsen and was the first project funded by the new Cultiva Ekspress Junior scheme which funds artistic and cultural projects for children between 0-18 years in Kristiansand.