The new digital environment has opened the ground for innovative practices in very different fields. Despite some criticism about their possible misuse, social media have the power to connect people from different countries or territories, and encourage interaction and mutual understanding. That is the aim of the Open window / Youngest intercultural ambassadors project, a joint initiative launched by the intercultural cities of Santa Maria da Feira (Portugal) and Melitopol (Ukraine). Following an ICC experts’ visit to Santa Maria da Feira back in October 2016, the city decided to launch a project that would connect - via Skype - children in local schools with fellows elsewhere in Europe and abroad. The idea was based on a previous experience led by local NGOs that connected through email exchanges local primary schools with schools based in Guinea Bissau and Angola.
The project started in the school year 2016/2017 with two schools from Santa Maria da Feira having bilateral exchange with Mons (Belgium) and Toronto (Canada).
This year, a twinning has started with kindergartens "Beryska" (Melitopol) and “Jardim de Infância de Bajouca, Pigeiros" (Santa Maria da Feira), with kids aged 3-6 year old. They act as real intercultural ambassadors, talking to each other, learning and playing games of each other cultures, singing songs and watching educational videos together. The teachers, in their turn, exchange information on the educational process and share teaching tools. These on-line meetings are always held in a warm and welcoming atmosphere that helps overcoming the language barrier or other small technical issues.
A similar twinning has also started among Santa Maria da Feira and Limassol (Cyprus); an invitation to join has been recently sent to Ballarat (Australia), one of the newest members of the ICC network.
The project is now part of the wider “Feira without prejudice” initiative, which received Council of Europe support in 2016.