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🚀How did I get to know Dr Octopass?

It has been over two weeks since I met Dr. Octopass. He comes from an octopus family and has eight special feet. He can stand up and move around with two legs, but he is more confident on all his eight feet because there are these skills and competences that have shaped his unique character. We met in Cyprus during the training "More intercultural competences", which took place in Limassol, Cyprus, from October 20 to 30, as part of the Erasmus+ training course.

We were over 25 participants, younger and probably less experienced than him, from different countries. The first day I met him, I felt that it would be difficult for me to perceive him as he was. I had my own prejudices and stereotypes about certain topics (such as national, cultural, and gender identity) and competencies that he offered. Later, I better understood how useful and productive the competencies he offered were and how they could make me look at things from a different perspective.

First, he tried to engage all of us in meaningful communication. This is the moment when you try to step out of your comfort zone and get to know others with their identity, culture, temperament, and sometimes controversial ways of thinking. Consciously, I did not feel fully engaged with the young people I met, but within a few days, I realized how similar we are with our feelings, fears, anxieties and prejudices. I remember the sessions where we discussed the issue of immigration. People from immigrant backgrounds shared their experiences, what they went through, how those experiences shaped their identity, and so on. I certainly felt the sensitivity of the topic, but Dr. Octopass also gave me space to analyze the two sides of the medallion. Here he imparted the skills of intercultural sensitivity, which is all about empathizing with others and trying to analyze the risks, barriers and human ambitions behind migration.

I mostly liked Dr. Octopass’s adventurous character as he was quite confident of our abilities and put us in charge of handling the situation ourselves by telling us the rules of the game called "More", which was challenging. I was given the position of the journalist, who was supposed to have a major influence on the policy in the decision-making process. Here, the participants learned in a very practical way about the impact the role of the media can have in politics and how important it is to raise awareness of media literacy in today's world. I sat behind the negotiating table and watched my peers share their views on the EU and European migration policy. I believe they did their best to overcome the challenges they faced in their positions, but I am pretty sure they could have become talented politicians, though it was just a game and we made it in a very fun way. During the game, Dr. Octopass applied to me with his expertise in managing resources. This is where I realize how difficult it is to manage the resources around you and collaborate with a team where everyone is trying to be civically engaged. Well, it was not an easy task, but we did it, and I learned and got a clear picture of migration.

Now, when I look back and try to reflect on the journey I took with Dr Otopass during those 10 days, I ask myself many questions and try to evaluate what I learned and how I can promote learning among peers and young people to whom I want to introduce competencies gained from Dr. Octopass, as these are the main components which can make us stand confidently on our feet and shape a strong identity, which we definitely need in this diverse and constantly changing world.

Authors Nora Hayrapetyan, Hrak Haytayan

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