“Ongi etorri eskolara!” is a programme running since 2014 in several schools of Donostia-San Sebastián. Its objective is to collaborate in the inclusion of families from other countries, starting from the school community, as well as to raise awareness among all school agents about the advantages of cultural diversity. The project was born from volunteering parents, and it is currently funded by the local administration. Interestingly, the first parents got involved in the project as they see how diversity was present at the school playgrounds, and they wanted to create bounds between children, parents and families, as part of the school community.
The programme consists in appointing (volunteering) mentor families to help newcomer families to be part of the local community. Usually, families have children in the same classrooms so that the two-year programme of support can include both scholar and extra-scholar/social activities. The interaction and exchange of cultures is crucial for the programme, but the main focus is to be found in the shared situation (parents with children at the same school and in the same classes).
The programme impacts professors, classes, students and parents, while raising awareness about the diversity advantage for the overall population. The programme identifies families in the class meetings at the beginning of the course to mentor and to be accompanied, and several activities are planned during the year. Complementary, most of the families organise social activities (via WhatsApp groups) to share spare time, and to strengthen social capital for all. Specific instruments for the programme as well as evaluation processes have been developed over time.