English café: what are social issues?

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With everything that is happening around the world, now more than ever, it is important to talk about the issues we are facing. Every day we might face some personal problems that we know we are the ones responsible to solve and overcome. However, when it comes to broader problems, that affect millions of people, we often think that there is not much we can do about it. And yes, maybe we are not physically able to stop the 100 companies responsible for 70% of the world‘s greenhouse gas emissions. But there are small things we as individuals can do. The very least we can do is talk about it and spread awareness about these social issues.

This month that is exactly what we are going to do! This month our volunteers organized an English café. During this, they will discuss various social issues and share their opinions.

In this article, I will introduce the topic of social issues and explain what they are. I will also explain more about what English café is. As well as, give you a sneak peek into the themes that are going to be discussed there. 

What are social issues?

Social issues are topics that impact a big number of people. Often they reflect current events but also cover long-lasting issues and problems that are difficult to solve. Usually, people have very strong opinions about these topics. Public debates (especially done by publicly known people) can result in a dispute. Research on these topics can show us that there are many ways to think, look and approach these problems. It includes a huge number of topics, like climate change, immigration, bullying, women‘s rights and it impacts people all around the world.

No matter where the social issues emerge from, they are usually associated with the thought of „something has to be done“. They represent conditions that shouldn‘t continue because they are seen as problems for society. Therefore, society needs to react to them and find some solutions.

What can I, as an individual, do about it?

„Me, by myself, will not make a difference.“ You have probably heard it a lot of times. Maybe even thought so yourself. And yes, it is true that if you are the only one recycling plastics that will not save the world. However, it still does make a difference. How? Well, you are a walking testimony. And in my opinion that is the biggest difference you can make.

You should try to teach and inspire people by your own actions. And when others see you doing something it will at the very least make them think about the issue.

You can also go to peaceful protests. These also draw the wanted attention. However, bear in mind that these can sometimes turn violent or aggressive. In that case, you should leave the area immediately.

You can also educate yourself more about these issues. If you know what specifically the problem is, it can give you better ideas of the small changes you can make in your daily life.

English café

English café is a series of 4 meetings (once per week). Every week there is a different theme concerning some social issue. During these meetings, the volunteers first introduce the topic. After that, the participants get the chance to discuss in groups their opinions and views on the topics. So, the topics that will be discussed are: European Union, Climate change, Cyberbullying, and Gender equality.

Now, I will shortly introduce each of the topics to give you a little inside into these issues. As well as, let you know what happens during these meetings.

European Union

On the 7th of March, our first English Café meeting was held. Firstly, let‘s quickly explain what the EU is. The European Union is a political and economic union of 27 European countries. It has started after the Second World War, as an idea for economic cooperation between 6 countries. So in 1958, The European Economic Community was created, involving: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Since then, another 22 countries joined.

What has started as an economic union has evolved into something much more. It is reflected in the change of name to the European Union in 1993. The EU now governs common economic, social, and security policies.

During the Café also the current situation with Ukraine was discussed. What European Union does to help? Also, whether Ukraine should be a part of the European Union.

Climate Change

Climate change refers to the Earth’s temperature changes over time. It also involves changes in humidity, clouds, wind, air pressure. In general, climate change is a term to describe long-term changes to the planet’s weather patterns.

You also might have heard the term global warming. It is often used as a synonym for climate change. However, global warming is a contributing factor to climate change. It describes the effect of greenhouse gases on Earth’s average temperature.

The problem we are facing here is that all the big companies produce more greenhouse gasses than our Earth can process. Human activities, like burning fossil fuels, add another 7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Another problem is deforestation. Destroying forests that would otherwise absorb the carbon dioxide. We can also mention the agricultural industries and their use of fertilizers.

Cyberbullying

We all know what bullying is. Many people might have experienced it or seen it themselves. When you see an individual picking on someone, pushing them around, or calling them names you know what is happening. However, how does it work in the cyber, virtual life?

To begin with, let’s identify what is considered cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is bullying using digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messages, or different gaming platforms. This behavior is repeated and the goal is to scare, shame, embarrass or anger the victim.

What can we consider as cyberbullying? Spreading lies about someone. Sharing embarrassing pictures or videos of other people. Sending hurtful or threatening messages, pictures, or videos. Impersonating someone and sending messages on their behalf. All of these are examples of cyberbullying.

Both bullying and cyberbullying often go alongside each other. However, cyberbullying leaves evidence behind. There is a digital footprint – evidence that can be helpful to stop this abuse.

Gender equality

Despite this being a big topic of discussion for a long time now, we can still see gender inequality daily. Whether it is inside the homes, school, communities, media etc. At schools, many girls receive less support to pursue the studies of their choice than boys do. Nearly 1 in 4 girls at the ages between 15-19 and neither employed nor in schools or training (compared to 1 in 10 boys). This is a result of discriminatory teaching.

Dangerous and harmful gender norms are still very much present in many countries. Even though it has been recognized as a human rights violation, child marriages and female genital mutilation are still practiced in many countries. In fact, hundreds of millions of girls are facing this kind of treatment worldwide.

Boys are also subjected to and suffer from gender norms. Social concepts of males being the masculine protectors can fuel more violence, gang involvements, disinterest in school, and child labor.

Now, that I have given you a very brief introduction to the topic of social issues, it is up to you to do something about it! It can be in a form of coming to our English café to discuss your opinions and learn more about these topics. Or sharing this article with your friends to spread the knowledge about these problems. You can also learn more about the specific topic that interests you and educate yourself more. Whatever you do, be the change!:)

Thank you very much for reading and see you next month!

Yours Hanka😊