intercultural routes
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Mirca Ognisanti

Abstract (English)

This is a website about race, racism and cultural aspect of everyday life as seen through the eyes of the British children and adolescents. The website presents a team of nine animated young from different backgrounds. They invite the visitor to their home where it is possible to meet their family and friends and share some experiences. The visitor can also choose to go into the virtual city of “Britchester” with them and explore conversations that happen there.
During the visit, it is possible to read about everyday life of this virtual characters and to interact with the website in a very interesting way for children and teenagers (quizzes, quotes, lyrics, and famous people from TV, sport, and music). Since there are many minority ethnic groups in the UK, each with different backgrounds and experiences, the author of the website decided to try to address some main themes and issues rather than every group's experience, because that differing experiences and histories do not just exist between ethnic groups but within them. Thus, the characters exist as vehicles for the issues not as 'representatives' of specific groups.


Abstract (italiano)

Si tratta di un sito web creato a partire da temi quali la razza, il razzismo e gli aspetti culturali della vita di tutti i giorni, visti attraverso lo sguardo di bambini e adolescenti inglesi. Il sito presenta un gruppo di nove giovani provenienti da contesti culturali differenti. I ragazzi invitano i visitatori a casa loro dove possono incontrare la loro famiglia e i loro amici e condividere esperienze. I visitatori possono anche scegliere di entrare insieme a loro nella città virtuale di “Britchester”e ascoltare le conversazioni che vi si tengono. Durante la visita è possibile informarsi sulla vita di tutti i giorni di questi personaggi virtuali e interagire col sito in un modo molto interessante per bambini e ragazzi (quiz, citazioni, canzoni e personaggi famosi della televisione, sport e musica). Dal momento che in Gran Bretagna ci sono molti gruppi etnici minoritari, ognuno dei quali proviene da esperienze e background differenti, l’autore del sito web ha deciso di prendere in considerazione alcuni temi principali, piuttosto che le singole esperienze di ogni gruppo. In questo modo i personaggi esistono non tanto come rappresentanti di un gruppo specifico, ma come “strumenti” per affrontare i problemi.

1. The practice

1.1 Description of the project

This website about racism is intended as an educational tool for use mainly in areas where young people do not have frequent contact with minority ethnic groups (though no doubt it will be of interest to others too). The issues raised on the site can be difficult to deal with in a whole class setting, and authoritative accessible resources are hard to find, therefore the site tries to answer this lack by providing a set of resources for students, teachers and educators.
The site is based around nine imaginary characters in their mid-teens, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and users are invited to 'hang out' with one of these characters. The characters show us their homes, introduce us to some members of their families, and tell us something about themselves and their lives. If they are religious they give some information about their beliefs, and it's also possible to visit their respective places of worship.
On educational grounds the author decided to represent nine characters; more would be confusing to the user. Three south Asian characters were created, but left out Bangladeshis; there are two African-Caribbeans, but neither has roots in Jamaica and there is no mention of Indo-Caribbeans; a Jewish boy is represented, but of northern European refugee descent - there are many Jews of different roots. The Welsh character also has an African connection, but there are no African characters and no Celtic Scot (though the Jewish boy feels Scottish, he says). Other groups which on numerical grounds might have been included are Travellers, the Irish, east African Asians, the Vietnamese, Cypriots, and refugees of many different nationalities.

1.2 Time, structure and steps of the project

The Project responded to the need of promoting a better understanding between different cultures. This necessity has shown by a national survey published in 2002, which acknowledges that there is widespread prejudice against ethnic minorities, though fewer white people than in the past say they are prejudiced themselves.

1.3 Place and context

92.15% of the population of Britain (more than nine out of every ten people) gave their ethnic group as White British. This was higher in the North East, Wales and the South West, where over 95% described themselves as White British. Taking England separately, the percentage of people from minority ethnic groups has grown from 6% to 9% since 1991. Someone's ethnic group is not the same as where they were born. 87.4% of people in England (and 97% of people living in Wales) were born in Britain (Source:

1.4 Target

The intended audience is young people who do not live or go to school in areas which are ethnically mixed, the website aims to engage and inform a group which is mostly not from minority ethnic groups themselves. Young people who have personal daily experience of multicultural Britain may find the site interesting, but it is not intended to address the details and complexities of those experiences.

For users who are from minority ethnic communities, the website author hope that it will provide some support in terms of points of view and familiar experiences. At different points in the website, there are opportunities for users to access the sites of organisations that can provide more direct support for people experiencing difficulties or discrimination in relation to 'race'.

1.5 Methodology

Most of the site consists of arguments and conversations between different members of the 'cast'. They discuss harassment, relationships, the words and 'jokes' they like and don't like, public attitudes about race myths and ideas about the numbers of minorities, myths about “natural black talent” in sport and music, racism in football, crime, and discrimination.
These discussions end either in a quiz, or a “truth/dare/kiss/promise” option, where they have to engage with the material and give answers that may be factual, moral, or a matter of opinion. There are also contributions from celebrities.

There are two ways of exploring the site.
The first is by 'hanging out' with a character and just seeing what issues to do with 'race' and culture come up for them. The way to access this route is by clicking on one of the character figures and following the resulting path through the site, (the first step will be map of the town with about four of the locations highlighted). Students like this route, since they can identify with one particular individual.
The second way of exploring the site is by issue, and this is not immediately transparent to the user. In effect, the different locations in “Britchester” serve as proxies for specific issues, so the sports centre is where the visitor finds something about racism and sport, the park is where it is possible to find discussions on marriage and relationships. The Teachers' Guide chart published on the website offers full details on the way to explore the site, which serves a key to the full map of Britchester. Using this, visitors can direct individuals or groups to specific issues by asking them to 'go to' a particular location.
The author suggests that students look at the material on an individual or small group basis focusing upon particular characters or specific issues.

“Behind” the main screens and pathways through the site there are more factual pages onto which users can “click” for further information (e.g. about the law on discrimination). The curator have provided a list of these pages (Serious Issues), so you can access them directly.

The website provided a small selection of lesson plans, which can be printed and photocopied as work sheets and handouts. It brief list of backup classroom materials that we think is appropriate and useful.

1.6 Authors, Financing and networks

University of Chichester, Professor Chris Gaine, BRITKID's author.
The University has a history of teacher training and now offers a full range of degrees and has a long-standing commitment to equal opportunities (
Comic Relief is known for Red Nose Day, the mega-fundraising event that sweeps the UK every two years. They also make grants to projects in the UK and Africa supporting disadvantaged people. As part of its education programme, Comic Relief has co-ordinated and publicised BRITKID, and provided financial support to the site.
1997 European Year Against Racism was designated by the member states of the European Union. Countries in order to combat racism, promote good practices, communicate the message of tolerance, respect and understanding, and highlight the benefits of a diverse society. 

2. Hints for an evaluation