Shuia b shuia strongly believes in working with local populations, not as an ‘exchange’ or ‘cultural’ program.. They primarily work with children in the Erfoud region.
Paula: For us it is very important to work with local people because they are aware about their region needs. Until now we have been doing educational programs with children — not during school time — but we are open to do all kinds of social programs that can be of interest for the area of Erfoud.
Aina: We started working with kids because most of our group is working with—well, or used to work with—children in Barcelona, so that’s why we started there. As Paula said, we are open to new projects; now for example, we have started a project with children with disabilities.
Paula: I would not say that what we do specifically is an exchange program or a cultural program, but definitely the meeting between different cultures is a very important point of our work. For me, one of the richest parts of our association is that we are really trying to get to know each thoroughly. We try to know how we are from the inside, not only defining each other through the stereotypes that we have about each other’s culture. I think it is such an important thing to do because there is a lot of Moroccan people living here in Catalonia, so we must try to know each other and learn how to live respectfully and warmly together.
María: Our working way is to try to live together. Obviously sometimes we cook traditional meals from Catalonia and we share them with local people and Moroccan people also invites us to their houses to share their meals and culture. We do this types of things where we learn about each other’s culture, but this is not the principal objective of our project.
Aina: We always want to work with local associations, actually is key for us to listen to local people opinions and suggestions. We always try to collaborate and work hand in hand with local associations, because we think is the only way for us to entirely understand the needs of the region and their people.
Paula: One of the most important things to understand is that it’s not always easy to work with people from another culture in another country. It’s not easy, it takes time, effort and patience, but despite everything we choose it, because it is the way to build together.
María: For example, some years ago we were working in a village and the head of the village association had other aims for the project, very different from our working objectives. There were disagreements and misunderstandings that made it challenging to work together, some of them were overcome, but others weren’t. Sometimes you have to accept that it is not possible to agree and work with everyone.