Global Summer Camp: Refugees in Europe
We live in times when Europe is closing in on itself. Fences and walls are being built, refugees are being interned and repatriated, and several European governments are challenging the human rights conventions in a hunt for votes. In MS Denmark, we are appalled by the fact that this is Europe’s reaction to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’. At the same time, we can see how people with refugee background are being talked about in stead of talked with. We would like to change that.
Therefore, we decided to organize a trip focusing on the conditions of refugees in Europe. We decided to travel along the route that many hundreds of thousands of refugees have taken from Europe’s outer borders through the Balkans to Germany and Denmark. With the aim of learning about the conditions from the perspective of refugees, from the perspective of several different European countries, and to be inspired to act.
Many of us don’t know what it means to be forced to migrate. But maybe our perspective will change if we see with our own eyes what refugees are exposed to on their way from the south to the north of Europe? You can definitely learn some from reading and watching the news, but we think we can learn more from meeting people and listening to their stories.
During the camp, we try to listen and create spaces for dialogue and community. We listen to people with refugee background, to NGOs and experts within the field, and try to get to know each other across differences. We believe that the conversation between us is the first step to breaking down divisions and creating change. Join us!
The camp will be moving from Copenhagen, Denmark through Europe to Greece, with stops in Germany, Serbia and Greece. We travel by train, bus and ferry through Europe. It gives a sense of the long distances that one has to overcome to get to Denmark when traveling over land.
All camp participants will travel on an interrail ticket, and there will be plenty of time to get to know each other well and play a game of cards or sing a song together in the train compartment, while watching the changing landscapes through the window. Along the route, we will also travel some long stretches where we sleep over in a train sleeping compartment.
We will stop on the way – and gain new insight
On our journey, we will make stops at cities and places to learn about the conditions of the refugees, the political framework and how the influx of refugees is handled. We listen to the refugees’ own stories, and try to see Europe through their eyes. You will gain a unique knowledge of migration and asylum policy in Europe, and experience the debate unfolding in countries with widely different political climates. We also visit places on the map we rarely see – and which Europe seems to have completely forgotten. We will be inspired to act together in new ways when we meet cool volunteers and refugees who take action and believe in change.
You can join no matter your previous knowledge of the issue. The camp is for everyone, but for the ones who already know a lot or nothing in advance about refugees and migration.
Travel route and program:
The camp will begin in Copenhagen, Denmark
The camp will begin with 3 days of introduction at MS Denmark’s hostel in Copenhagen. Here you will meet your fellow travel companions, and we get to know each other through various teambuilding activities.
The introduction in Copenhagen will consist of workshops with experts in international law and human rights, history of the refugee crisis, and trauma management in crisis situations.
We also hear the testimony of a refugee who have been traveling the long way from home to Greece through Europe to Denmark. We will visit a center for asylum seekers in Denmark, and learn more about the Danish refugee and asylum policy.
And then, we board the train and travel to Berlin, Germany
Berlin: Hope, community and creativity
Germany is one of the European countries which has taken many refugees, and the debate is ongoing. We meet with both sides. The ones who want to close the borders, and the ones who want to open up.
Our first meet up in Berlin will be with a Syrian refugee taking us on an alternative guided tour to the city. Through the streets of Berlin, we are told the story of a refugee and we see the city from the perspective of a refugee.
Berlin is always one step ahead, and vibrating with community and creativity. We seek inspiration for further action when visiting just a few of the many projects using community and creativity when welcoming refugees and improving their situation: People sharing their flats with refugees, the bike repair giving refugees tailwind, or professionals creating jobs for migrants. We will participate ourselves, and share our food traditions and stories with each other when we cook at a community kitchen with refugees and activists in Berlin.
The border between Hungary and Serbia
The Hungary/Serbia border is protected by a wall which is 4 meters high and more than 500 km long. It was build by the Hungarian authorities to stop the influx of refugees. But the refugees are still there, now just stuck in camps just before the border, until they risk their lives and try to cross the heavily guarded border.
We will get first hand knowledge about the refugee policies of Hungary and the European Union seen from one of the EU’s outer borders, and we investigate if it is actually possible to shut down a refugee route.
From the border, we take the night train south through Serbia and Macedonia.
Volunteering in Thessaloniki, Greece
What can you do, if you want to improve conditions for refugees in Europe? We visit a refugee day center where volunteers have taken action and are helping by handing out clothes to refugees. We do our part, and we get an understanding of how you can volunteer and what it takes to become a professional in an NGO working with refugees.
Athens: Unaccompanied minors and the financial crisis
In Athens, we will call on the responsible authorities. We will visit Frontex, the EU border authorities, and Greek authorities as well, and have a chance to confront them with our questions.
We will visit a refugee center for unaccompanied minors, and a community center for and by some of the people in Greece who have faced the hardest consequences of the financial crisis. This will give us the opportunity to discuss what it takes to create less boundaries and avoid racism between socially marginalized people and refugees.
Lesbos: The coast and outer border of the European Union
We arrive to Lesbos by ferry, the same sailing route as thousands of refugees have taken to arrive to the European mainland.
Here we talk to people who work with newly arrived refugees and learn about the conditions in the refugee camp Moria. We meet with organizations on the island, follow their work and participate on their premises in e.g. sports activities for refugees.
The camp concludes with making a project of your own and presenting it to the rest of the team before we have a goodbye dinner and say ‘see you again’ to each other
NB: The program is subject to change.
When the camp ends, we will be on Lesbos. You can fly home, but if you live within reach of the railnet, we recommend that you use your interrail pass for traveling home by train.
You are also most welcome to stay in Greece and use some of your new insights to volunteer and help refugees in Greece. We have several contacts and partners – just contact us well in advance.
All accommodation during the 3 weeks is included in the extra fee.
Breakfast is included all days, lunch and dinner on your own.
This camp travels through Europe, so we are in more than one location.
Accommodation by location in short:
Copenhagen, Denmark: We will stay at Globalhagen, hostel of MS Denmark
Berlin, Germany: We will stay in a backpacker hostel in Berlin
Border Hungary/Serbia: We stay in a local hostel
Thessaloniki, Greece: We stay in a backpacker hostel
Athens, Greece: We stay in a hostel in downtown Athens
Lesbos, Greece: We stay in a guest house close to the beach
This camp travels through Europe, so we are in more than one location.
This is the route in short:
Copenhagen, Denmark: 3 days
Berlin, Germany: 4 days
Border Hungary/Serbia: 3 days
Thessaloniki, Greece: 2 days
Athens, Greece: 2 days
Lesbos, Greece: 4 days
Traveling by train gives us time to get to know each other. Please bring game cards and musical instruments, or your favorite song for singing when passing through the changing landscapes.
You will have time for exploring the cities we visit on your own. Suggestions for leisure activities could be visiting the historical monuments in Berlin or Athens, or have an evening out at one of the town’s venues, dinner at a local restaurant etc.
MS Denmark has a long history of sending volunteers, doing work camps and global courses. We are part of ActionAid, and we fight against inequality by supporting marginalized people in fighting for their rights and organizing to break the structures which holds them back in poverty. We fight for the human rights of refugees in both Denmark and internationally.
Duration: 3 weeks, starting from 8th of July in Copenhagen, Denmark, and ending 28th of July on Lesbos, Greece
Induction course: 13th of June (participation via skype)
The extra fee of the camp includes:
• 3 weeks of summer camp from Denmark to Greece (incl. accommodation and breakfast)
• Induction course the 13th of July by skype
• All workshops, excursions and project visits as planned in the program
• Reservations on train and ferry, and local transportation
• Travel guide following with the group all 3 weeks
• Access to 24H emergency phone
• Administration costs at MS Denmark
The fee does not include:
• Lunch and dinner
• Interrail pass (you will need a Global Pass valid for 1 month and at least 7 traveling days)
• Travel insurance
Important information about transportation and train tickets;
We will travel primarily by train, and it is a prerequisite for participation that you buy an interrail pass. It needs to be a Global Pass valid for 1 month and at least 7 traveling days. You can read more about prices of a Global Pass and about interrail here: https://www.interrail.eu/en/interrail-passes/global-pass It is very important that you don’t buy your interrail pass before having your participation on this camp finally confirmed by MS Denmark. When confirming, we will make sure to provide you with detailed instructions on the dates and duration for your Global Pass. Please also don’t buy any flight tickets or travel insurance etc. before your participation is confirmed by us. Please note that it is of your own responsibility to buy the interrail ticket, a travel insurance and flight ticket.
Interrail and reservations
We will take care of reservations on the journey from Copenhagen to Lesbos in the trains where reservation is needed. The cost of reservations is already included in the fee.
Since the camp ends on Lesbos, have in mind that you need to make reservations yourself for train and ferry for your travel back from Lesbos well in advance, or buy a flight ticket.