Name: Association „Workshop of Solutions” 

Goals: invite together decision makers and those to whom these decisions – projects, legislation, policy and services - apply. Promote and support the society involvement in decision-taking at local, national and EU level. 

Activity field: public involvement, policy analysis; dialogue between authorities and people. 

Home page: www.workshopofsolutions.com

Operating since: 2009

Provided services to third country nationals: integration policy analysis, education and information about living environment for students, third country nationals in Latvia; education and methodic materials for student associations in work with the third country nationals; organizing of discussions; analysis of problematic issues and communication with public institutions.

 

How was launched your organization’s cooperation with the third country nationals? 

Impulse for work with this target group was incited by generating ideas, responding to project tenders.  In view that all in the Association have an experience in studying in other countries we chose to work   directly with students. We were looking for cooperation with all Latvian high schools as a result of the projects by „Workshop of Solutions” there participated students from very different countries, including, Georgia, Nigeria, Belorussia, Ukraine, Russia, Kirghizia a.o. 

What major challenges you see will face the people from the third countries at both levels – social and state? 

Insufficient knowledge about Latvia and its people, the life in Latvia before arriving, unjustified expectations. On the other hand, direct and indirect obstacles on behalf of state, high school and receiving part. For example, not all high schools enable foreigner to integrate into Latvian environment with respect to learning work and free time spending activities, everyday life including dormitory equipment.

What solutions could be applied to address these challenges?

The work by Latvian diplomatic services and high schools in promoting information distribution before foreigner arrives to study. More frequent communication by high schools and policy makers with foreign students, listening to their needs. Encourage local students to organize joint activities with foreigners.  

Please, tell if have you experience in involving third country nationals in volunteering work in your organization?

Students were very responsive and in the framework of projects participated in preparation of informative material for students and also run the commonwealth evening.  

Do you think the problems/challenges are different for people living (studying etc.) in Latvia if compare to other EU member states? If yes, please name the ones.  

As the major challenge students named cold winters in Latvia. Small number of foreigners and historically driven gap between people of Latvian and Russian origin for some part of newcomers inflicts difficulties to adapt. Also the “strange” status of Russian language in everyday life and academic environment on the one hand hinders the flow from former USSR countries, on the other hand – interdicts to form the integrating training and everyday environment for Latvian and foreign students. 

What is you observation or experience about the attitude of the Latvian society towards third country nationals?

I think there isn`t different attitude though sometimes newcomers seem to be exotic and there is an interest to eye them more closely. There was also observed a lack of confidence among Latvian students, for example, for their foreign language skills that put them to stand apart only in Latvian environment. 

Have the third country national you`ve been cooperating with faced different treatment, probably discriminating attitude on behalf of the society? 

Students mentioned about the case when emergency medical assistance refused to help for dark-skinned young man because he forgot to take with him the insurance policy. One student shared her experience about apartment renters – when there was reached an agreement by phone about rent of apartment, the girl arrived to the owner of the property and when he opened the door and saw that girl has a dark skin the deal was cancelled not even letting her to come in the apartment and start the conversation.

What do you think we can learn or have learnt from the third country nationals living in Latvia?

Newcomers are as much as diverse as native people. And each person acquainted more closely can teach us something. From students met at our projects we could learn the skills to find “the own people” in foreign environment, the adaptation ability and proud about their country of origin. 

What are three points you would advise to the third country national who plans to come to Latvia shortly or has just arrived in Latvia? 

To take a warm clothing for the winter. In Latvia most writing notices are in Latvian and having only Russian and English language skills you may encounter difficulties in communicating everyday situations. To look into material “Compass for living in Latvia” and other that may be helpful to prepare to live abroad.

Feedback from third country nationals about „Workshop of Solutions” provided services:

We offer to look into discussions at social site of Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/215856911760243/

What do you think is the role of NGO in integration of third country nationals in Latvia?

Considering the fragmented and inconsistent funding NGOs are one of rare organizations that are able to adapt to this rhythm. 

 

This publication has been produced with the support by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals. Funding has been allocated from European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (75%) and Latvian state budget (25%). The responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the Society Integration Foundation.

June 27, 2013
by NGO Latvia
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„Society Integration Foundation has established the e-platform www.ngolatvia.lv in the framework of the project „TOGETHER. UNITED. ACTIVE.” (contract No. IF/2011/1.a./16) funded by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (75%) and Latvian state budget (25%). The responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the Society Integration Foundation, as well as information posted is each user`s own responsibility.”

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