Nov. 12th, 2021, the remote research conference, "Migration Today: How to Turn Challenges into Opportunities" was held remotely online discussing the changes in pandemic management, the uncertainty and volatility that are causing a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty about the future in various areas. Social workers are no exception. They have to look for original solutions to problems every day, working in hot spots - refugee centers and temporary migrant camps. Therefore, the researchers of MRU's Institute of Educational Sciences and Social Work together with the Lithuanian Association of Social Work Schools (LSDMA) organized the remote conference to discuss some of the challenges.
One of the Biggest Challenges of Migration is the Search for Intercultural Dialogue
"One of the European Commission's educational priorities is to integrate migrants as early as possible, preventing social exclusion and thus promoting intercultural dialogue. Therefore, it is extremely important not only to cooperate, but also to find common answers on how the representatives of the scientific field can help in finding possible solutions to manage migration crises more effectively, ”said Faculty of Human and Social Sciences Dean Prof. Odeta Merfeldaitė.
Seimas member Tomas Tomilinas agreed saying, "it is important to behave completely differently than how the migration crisis is presented in the media, often repeating that there is a hybrid war ongoing. Then, when one hears the words, "foreigner," "different" or "not of our culture" it has a different meaning in society and a huge resistance develops which weakens our nation's immunity. That is why it is a rather huge task for all to unify and to reach out with a helping hand and to take humane decisions. That is why social workers, often must use their critical thinking to shy away from negative attitudes and to work with migrants on a daily basis and remember that they are live human beings."
"The world is changing and the processes of globalization are familiar to us not only from theoretical positions, but we experience its consequences in everyday life," said Prof. Vida Gudžinskienė, who is President of the Lithuanian Association of Social Work Schools.
"People migrate from one place to another. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, there are currently 281 million people or 3.6% of the world's population that lives beyond its country's borders. They are all migrants. The reasons for migration can be very different: due to better socio-economic conditions; education; higher wages; various conflict situations in the country of origin for example, terrorism, war or political persecution. Migration often reveals social problems such as unemployment, poverty, discrimination, and various forms of social inequality, which involve professionals and social workers who provide a range of assistance and information. For this reason, it is important for social workers to have the widest possible range of intercultural competencies and skills to enable them to understand and assist migrants. It is a great challenge for every country that receives migrants to treat migrants with respect and dignity, ”said Prof. Gudžinskienė.
The Migration Conference proved to be a huge success. The Conference initiator and one of the main organizers, MRU Prof. Vida Gudžinskienė was happy about the huge number of conference participants saying that it showed the the theme of migration in Lithuania is especially relevant.