Open Dialogue Cafe – Experiencing the project through the team’s perspectives!

Open Dialogue Cafe is an Erasmus+ project which aims to achieve social integration through informal dialogue.  

The goal is to give to the participants the opportunity to express their own voice, feelings, thoughts, dreams and visions, in a safe and open space. Open Café events take place in 4 different cities across Europe, in Patras, the meetings started in May 2019 and ended in April 2021.  

During these years the ODC discussions witnessed several changes, in its team, participants and format. As one of its oldest members, Maria, can describe: 

“Being a member of Open Dialogue Café was a huge experience for me. I was part of the team since the beginning of the project in April of 2019, and I experienced many things, I changed a lot of team members and I saw Open Dialogue Café changing and becoming something big. We tried a lot, in the beginning, to promote it in the community of Patras and people really loved it, as we loved it too. It was our favourite weekly habit. Drinking our coffee and discussing all together so many different topics. Then, when the pandemic came, we had to adjust to the new situation, so Open Dialogue Café went online, and more and more people from all over the world joined us. I am really grateful for all these people who attended our events during these 2 years. Personally, I think that I gained a lot from this project. I participated in 2 trainings in 2 different countries, and we organized 40 events. I improved my skills, I also gained new ones. I want to say a big thanks to all my team members throughout these years and a big thanks to every single person who participated in our events. 

I will miss Open Dialogue Café.”  – Maria Christodoulou 

In its last edition two ESC volunteers of InterMediaKT, Chloé and Sara, joined the team and since they come from different countries, they brought an intercultural sphere to the Open Dialogue Café organizing team: 

“When joining Open Dialogue Café in September 2020, I never imagined it could have such a huge impact. We manage to not only reach people from literally all over the world but also to create a strong community ready to learn, share and discuss altogether! Starting with a small team gathered in a park, it rose when becoming online, and targeted very diverse topics thanks to all of our speakers! Throughout this whole journey, by empowering others, we empowered ourselves! 

So THANK YOU to all of you, who’ve joined us during this project! It has been a true pleasure!”  – Chloé Deantoni 

Open Dialogue Café lived indeed several moments and even though most of them were mainly occasions to celebrate, we believe it’s also important to remember its downs, as Antonela, the project manager of ODC – Greece, explains: 

“For me, Open Dialogue was as much of a challenging experience, as it was rewarding. As the project manager of the entire initiative in Greece, being able to involve young volunteers in organizing weekly events for an unknown community felt powerful on its own. I witnessed their growth, I was there to share their disappointments, to try and support their struggles and to celebrate their achievements. The hosting team changed three times and every time, it felt like a new beginning, with new insights and ideas. Two times, the teams almost gave up and Open Dialogue Café raised from the ashes. And then the pandemic…by facing these unprecedented changes, no one would have imagined ODC would skyrocket on the digital world as well.

What I take from all of these, except for all the joy and the beautiful moments, is the community. Any kind of change, big or small, comes through a community.”   – Antonela Kotsoni 

The ODC community will always be an important part of InterMediaKT, that benefited from its powerful impact: 

However, even though the meetings are now over, all the members of the team wanted to thank this amazing big intercultural family by describing what this project meant for each one of them: 

“As I met InterMediaKT at an open dialogue café event in Patras, I am so happy and proud to be a part of it, as a volunteer and to see this huge impact of the project in an international level. It was challenging to transfer the event online during the pandemic, but we were trying a lot to make it interactive and useful. The great feedback of the participants made us understand that it worth that they spend their time with us. I could never think that people around the world will join us and we created a community while meeting every week. 

It was a huge achievement for everyone and we gained even more of their experiences and knowledge.”  – Aspasia Kralli 

“The “Open Dialogue Cafe” project was something that came into my life in 2019 when I had just graduated from the University of Patras. It was the best experience ever, to be part of a great team, with beautiful minds and always inclusive with everyone! I have learnt so many things and I am thankful for each one of them. I hope that in the end of this project I have achieved to offer the best I had and that I have become a better person. 

It was a great experience and definitely I would do it again!!!”  – Katerina Driza 

“Two are the things that I will always remember from this project: firstly, how much it changed through its duration and secondly, the international community that we have been able to create! ODC project had a personal development itself, as it found an alternative solution for the pandemic through the online format and it grew and improved event by event, scaling from 6 participants to almost 100 hundred, from all around the world! This project has been an amazing experience that made me learn a lot from my colleagues, participants and facilitators.

I will never forget all the love and the active participation we received every time from our community!”  – Sara Albo 

Open Dialogue Cafe, through all its changes, proved its participants that achievements are always possible if you know how to adapt to the unexpected, if you have vision and most of all, if you have a team that is always willing to share in the same way happiness and frustration! 

ODC was created for YOU, but more important it rose thanks to YOU! 

Thank you again for bringing your positive energy into this project and making it such an enriching experience for everyone who joined!