KAREN POWER
ireland

“It’s powerful to know that your awareness can really effect a situation or group of people.”

Q: What word would you use to describe yourself? – Outgoing

Q: what are things are you facing back home? – I’m here because I want to be part of something bigger that can help me grow professionally and personally.

This is a process to help me to strengthen and have new tools in tackling hate speech with my young people in work and with my community. I’m from the traveller community and we are very discriminated against in Ireland.

A lot of my young people would face discrimination in their education. So I hope to help them tackle discrimination at a bigger level in schools, that’s where it manifest for them.

It manifests through a lack of awareness, knowledge or society in general not having an understanding of what the community is or about. It can be very frustrating for the young people when they are hit with discrimination or hateful language, hate speech or behaviours, it spirals out of control.

 Q: How do you feel the new 2017 Irish legislation in terms of recognising traveller ethnicity? – It’s been a great spread for Irish travellers but it’s still not where it should be. Yes, more of the population will have recognition to who Irish travellers are but they still might not understand or have prejudice, negative perceptions towards the community.

Q: when you hear the word hate speech what comes to mind? – Negative attitudes and behaviours thrown at a person to intentionally hurt them.

Q: Had there been a moment where you have felt confident to tackled hate speech? – I would have always tried to have challenged hate speech, but I didn’t have the proper tools to do so, I wouldn’t have known how to do so, I would have experienced personal attacks at school and would have reacted badly. This project has given me really good personal growth and it’s something I wouldn’t have had back then that I have now.

Q: What are you ambitions for the next 10 months (in December 2017), what do you think you can do to help transform hate speech? – I’m working with a very strong team and its very motivating to have their support and knowledge, and it really motivates me to really get out there. I have brought the idea to train in colleges, because I feel that if we teach youth workers while they are in college, we can start from the ground and work out way up. We need to start their learning in the learning and education environment.

Q: What skills and knowledge have you gained from being part of this training course? – A lot has changed for me on a professional and personal level, more so on the personal level. At the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was the right person for this project, I wasn’t sure if I had the capacity to follow through or to be a part of it in how I should have been. I wasn’t sure if I had the correct knowledge, skills so I struggled personally on asking the question why am I here, what do I want to get from this project, and in struggling I found strength within my team and they’ve been amazing particularly in Danielle, she’s been an amazing support for me, to help me recognise learning that I wouldn’t have recognised. I feel more confident in speaking out and being me.

I’m really looking forward to what comes next. I wasn’t aware of other people, backgrounds, groups other minorities and I am now. Knowing this motivated me to get to know people a bit more, I would have gone in with perceptions and now I have my own self-awareness before entering a situation. It’s powerful to know that your awareness can really effect a situation or group of people.

Q: What have you learnt from other participants? – The dynamics of the group is amazing, everyone brings something different and the group has really connected really well. It’s so nice that we have a sense of unity.

If one person couldn’t do something you can trust that there is someone in the group that can step in and help. There’s a big sense of unity within the group.

Q: What does equality mean for you? – Fairness and respect for everyone, it’s such a big term, treating people how you like to be treated.

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