In connection with a visit by the author Theodor Kallifatides, the Swedish Embassy in Madrid held a Democracy Talks event together with Spanish upper secondary school pupils. The themes of the discussions were identity, culture, language and youth engagement for a just future. A total of 115 pupils from four schools participated in the discussions during the one-day event.
The pupils who participated in the event came from schools that had taken part in the Cube Project. The Cube Project is about increasing young people’s knowledge about human rights. The idea is to make abstract concepts, such as human rights, more concrete and tangible through artistic representation. Kallifatides was a guest speaker at the event and he spoke about the cultural differences between Greece and Sweden, the issue of identity when living in a new country and how individuals can make a difference in society. The discussions were moderated by the translator and teacher Martin Lexell, who is well-versed in both Spanish and Swedish culture and has long experience of working with young people.
The young people showed a great deal of interest in the issues related to democracy and the possibility of influencing society, but many also had concerns about the climate and sustainability. Kallifatides’s books provide a good basis for the discussion of issues concerning alienation, cultural differences, identity, racism and human rights linked to the right to asylum. European refugee policy was a big issue for the pupils, who also had many questions about Sweden’s refugee policy compared to that of Greece and the rest of Europe.