Cool’eurs du monde: almost 25 years of interculturality and popular education

03/17/2021 | The Cool’eurs du monde association is an association combining citizenship, international solidarity and popular education alongside young people.

French and Senegalese youth from the Weccee Project in Senegal in 2021

Support young people who want to get involved in their city or in international projects. It is from this desire that the Cool’eurs du monde association was born in Bassens in Gironde 23 years ago. Since then, Cool’eurs du monde has become a regional association. These values ​​of interculturality and popular education have been joined by education for citizenship and solidarity, while allowing young French and foreigners to discover new cultures. Portrait with Jean-Marc Dutreteau, director of the association.

“It all started with a few local young people who wanted to flourish”. With a smile in the corner of his mouth, Jean-Marc Dutreteau looks back on the first steps of Cool’eurs du monde, in 1998. At the time, he was an educator, regional director of the Léo Lagrange Foundation. who wanted to get involved with the municipality of Bassens to carry out solidarity and international mobility projects, in Senegal for example, ”he recalls. All we did was listen to them and accompany them. “

“To flourish above all”

The facilitator, rich in the values ​​of popular education, quickly established trust with these young people. “They said to me, ‘go to Archachon it’s going to be a while” … They wanted to see something else, whereas already leaving for a week on the Basin, it was good, not everyone had that chance “, emphasizes he does. So they went to Biarritz for half a day. Later in Senegal, all together. Then repeated the operation, over the years.

In an association, it is not uncommon to think of “project”: sports project, cultural project, humanitarian project… For Cool’eurs du monde, this is not the priority. The important thing is the development of young people. “At the beginning, we wanted to participate in building things, not necessarily a school. Then things quickly changed, our young people had to be able to flourish above all ”. Thus, the association focused first on mobility, before thinking about what to do on site. “Depending on the project, we prepared all the same in advance, but more often than not we give a helping hand spontaneously once we arrive,” says Jean-Marc Dutreteau.

Out of adolescence

At 23, we can say, without taking too much risk, that Cool’eurs du monde has emerged from adolescence. Perhaps this was done at the same time as for the young people she received. Surely even. “At the beginning, only one person managed the association, whereas we had demand in neighboring towns, it quickly became a lot. Arrived at the tenth anniversary of the association, we said to ourselves either we remain focused on one or two cities, or we reorganize ourselves to grow. », Affirms Jean-Marc Dutreteau. Cool’eurs du monde has therefore followed the second path, without touching the triptych Youth-international-popular education which made it known. “The only thing that came more was when the young people returned from Senegal: they wanted to talk about it around them, to share it in schools, in homes” …

From there was born the second activity of Cool’eurs du monde: education for international citizenship and openness to others. Once again “everything starts from young people, we only supported them”, smiles the director of the association. Thus, Cool’eurs du monde, even today, regularly speaks in schools and organizes workshops focused on these notions of citizenship and solidarity.

“Mutual exchange”

The young people of the Weccee project of Cool'eurs du Monde also went to GuineaYoung people from Cool’eurs du Monde during an exchange in Guinea in 2021 © DR

The association continued to grow, until it offered reciprocity in the international solidarity projects it proposed. “The important thing is mutual exchange”, for Jean-Marc Dutreteau. In 2014, Cool’eurs du monde met with the National Civic Service Agency (ASC). “We have been sending young people to Senegal for years, but we have never brought Senegalese to our country”, relates Jean-Marc Dutreteau … By discussing with the Sivique Service Agency, the two entities arrive at an idea: to integrate ten young French people in civic service in Senegalese structures and vice versa.

Each young person works in pairs with his foreign counterpart to lead a project, which is not necessarily united. “We take young people as they are. If they want to play sport, culture or solidarity, we let them do what they want ”. This exchange project, called “Weccee”, Juliette Michel, civic service at Cool’eurs du Monde has already told us about it on the occasion of the signing of an agreement between the ASC and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, at the start March.

Entry into adulthood: “regional association”

The meeting between the Civic Service Agency and Cool’eurs du monde was a turning point for the association. In fact, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council came forward in 2016 to suggest that Cool’eurs du monde carry out its education and international solidarity projects in a wider scope; that of “cooperation zones” – a sort of regional twinning. “We became a regional association from there. We found ourselves sending Rochelais, Châtelleraudais, or Corréziens in civic service in Vietnam, Madagascar or Romania, and receiving young volunteers from these countries ”, specifies Jean-Marc Dutreteau.

After Nouvelle-Aquitaine, it was the Department of Gironde that came forward, offering the same thing as the Regional Council. Thus, Serbia and Morocco are now among the possible destinations for the young people of Cool’eurs of the world. Reciprocal volunteering projects have enabled 300 young French and foreigners to meet and work together, through Cool’eurs du monde.

Yoan Denéchau
By Yoan Denéchau

Photo Credit: Cooleurs du monde

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