all my works
Dora Djamila Mester
director of In Touch Amsterdam
sex educator, social scientist, social gardener, activist.
I live and work in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands but I do projects and have clients from more than a dozen countries in Europe. I use the floating garden metaphor to describe my life and my work.
I am the founder and leader of the Amsterdam based non-profit organization In Touch Amsterdam and the founder of the Budapest based non-profit civil organization, Ars Erotica Foundation for sexuality education and for the acceptance of sexual cultures.
The main questions why we created In Touch: how to achieve healthier and happier relationships both at an individual and societal level. We are dedicated for creating not only safe but brave spaces where we can learn, work, create, play or just be together as we are. Instead of the fragmented, and mediatized ways of modern life we focus on the first-hand human experience because we give birth, grow and learn, love and work, eat and think with the same body and soul. We thus want to develop our projects in the personal domains of life, such as birth, growth, shelter, healing, sexuality (ars erotica), transition, mourning and death. We want to focus on the most fundamental aspects of human existence such as the human body, sexuality, eating, preparing and sharing food, family relations, intimacy, working, building shelter or mourning, stages which we all need to go through, and as such provide the most natural and effective opportunities for strangers to connect.
As part of my comprehensive sex-positive activist and professional duties, I work at various fields including:
Training / consultancy / support for professionals, trainers and teachers:
- Partnership in VOICE – Using the voice and body in the classroom (VOICE) 2021-2023
European KA2 project for creativity in adult education with Elan Interculturel (Paris, France), CESIE (Palermo, Italy), Grotowski Institute (Poland), In Touch (Amsterdam, Netherlands), La XIxa (Barcelona, Spain)
- Partnership in Intimacy, Relationships and Interculturality in Youth Work (IRIS) (intimacyacrosscultures.eu), Erasmus+ international youth project (NL, Europe) 2018-2021
- Facilitating in-service training on the topics of integration-interculturalism-intimacy for the residents (status holder refugees and Dutch students) and professionals working in and around SET (Amsterdam, IJburg, NL) 2018-
- Facilitating in-service training for staff at Programma Prostitutie, Gemeente Amsterdam in Amsterdam, (NL) (2016)
- Facilitating in-service training and providing regular case discussions for staff at SHOP Den Haag – hulp en opvang prostitutie en mensenhandel (www.shop.nl) in Den Hague, (NL) 2014-
- Migration, culture, identity and sexuality: participation as a trainer and the leader of Ars Erotica Foundation in the „Body, society, culture: together for integration” Erasmus+, Key Action 1 Mobility Project (2015-2016)
- Facilitating The Training Course “EIRENE – European Intercultural Education towards a New Era of Understanding”, addressed to youth workers, youth leaders, youth advisors and project managers working in the youth field with CESIE (cesie.org), (Palermo, Italy) (November, 2015)
- Facilitating in-service training and field work based group sessions on the BODY methodology for the staff and refugee professionals at CESIE (cesie.org), (Palermo, Italy) (November-December, 2015)
- Guest speaker and facilitator of workshops at´Out of the box´ Expertmeeting organized by Spot46 (www.spot46.nl) in Den Hague, (NL) (November, 2015)
- Facilitating in-service training for staff at Planning Familial, Luxemburg (planning.familial), (Luxemburg) (November, 2014)
- Facilitating in-service trainings and regular case discussions for staff at Spot46 (www.spot46.nl) in Den Hague, (NL) (since 2014)
- Facilitating the BODY international in-service training for professionals, care-givers, adult educators on culture, body, health, gender, sexuality and disability based on the BODY LLP Grundtvig project (Palermo, Italy, September, 2014)
- Regular case-discussions for social workers involved in the, “Only for Women”, needle exchange program at KÉK Pont Foundation, Budapest, 2010-2012
- Workshops: Budapest-based local trainings and international trainings for trainers involved in adult education. In particular working with multicultural groups or teachers, trainers of body-related activities, social workers, health professionals performing educational activities, and students of adult education, (BODY LLP Grundtvig project, funded by the European Commission) (http://bodyproject.eu/).
- Facilitating the first BODY international in-service training for professionals involved in adult education (BODY LLP Grundtvig project) (Budapest/ Hungary, July, 2013)
- Organizing conferences and workshops for teachers involved or interested in sex-education with the TEIS Youth Foundation, (financed by the Ministry of National Resources – IFJ-GY-11).
- Participating in the Sex/sexuality education – personal development, prevention of discrimination and violence (In cooperation with the Council of Europe Programme “Building a Europe for and with children”) co-operational and training program in between October 2013- May 2014.
- Sexuality education in schools: design, organize and facilitate 30-hour-long in-service methodological trainings for teachers and parents (5-12 grade). In the frame of the Pestalozzi Programme and Ars Erotica Foundation (Budapest, Pécs, Székesfehérvár, Agárd / Hungary) (April 2016, September 2o15, March, August 2014).
Sexuality education and awareness-raising for adults:
- Teaching a course about the social construction of sexuality in the Western World – at Budapest University of ELTE; (see syllabus)
- Writing articles as sex columnist at popular women magazines (HVG pszichológia, NLC, Meglepetés, MOHA);
- Organizing sex workshops and educational events for adults on various topics such as Sex and Motherhood, Sex Toys, Sexuality in Long-term Relationships, Sex and Aging, etc.
- Facilitating workshops for queer organizations, and festivals: Labrisz – Lesbian Association, budapestpride LMBT fest, LIFT Hungarian Lesbian Festival, Queeristan (Amsterdam, NL).
- Writing a book on motherhood and sexuality which is based on quantitative research with in-depth interviews of Hungarian mothers and fathers. This book is a Foucauldian analysis on the norms and beliefs surrounding the mother as a sexual object and womanhood in our Western culture. This book titled, “Woman, Mother, Lover” was published in Hungarian in March, 2013.
- Sexuality and relationship coaching/consultation for women, men and couples;
- Participation and lectures at conferences, roundtable discussions of sexuality and topics such as, “Children, Porn and the Internet”, (organized by the International Children’s Safety Service).
- Hosting a weekly talk-show on sex and sexuality on TILOS community radio.
Sexuality education for youth (age 14-18):
- Partnership in the Integral Sexual Education and Empowerment in Schools (ISEX) 2021-2023 European youth project: Erasmus + KA205 – Strategic Partnership for school education with Kelet- Magyarországi Közösségszolgálat Alapítvány (Budapest, Hungary), CESIE (Palermo, Italy), Symplexis (Athen, Greece)
- Partnership in the Draw the lines of safety – Positive and safe sexuality, prevention of gender based violence for youth through art (DRAW), European KA2 project 2018-2021; European youth project with Tender (GB), CIPM (Piacenza, Italy), Elan Interculturel (Paris, France), NANE (Budapest, Hungary)
- Comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education in municipal high schools (Budapest, 7. district, Kertész u. , Dob u.), in co-operation with Cseresznye Youth Center. The two-year long pilot project is funded by TAMOP (EU);
- Sex educational workshops for Roma youth in co-operation with Pince Youth Center, Budapest, 20. district;
- Sex educational workshops for youth and counseling at József Attila Orphanage, Budapest, 19. district;
- Sex educational workshops at ELTE – Apáczai Csere János High School and Dormitory, Budapest, 5. district;
- Sex educational workshops at Deák Ferenc High School Dormitory, Budapest, 11. district;
- Comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education Waldorf Alternative School and Kindergarden in Fót, HU;
- Sex education workshops for mentally disabled youth for the Hungarian Association for Persons with Intellectual Disability;
In between November 2006- June 2007 I was a volunteer sex educator on the switchboard at San Francisco Sex Information (SFSI), San Francisco, (US) a free information and referral switchboard providing anonymous, accurate, non-judgmental information about sex. I also worked for the Centre for Sex and Culture; a San Francisco-based non-profit organization for sexual cultures.
- SET Community Gardens, Amsterdam – initiating and leading the community garden for social inclusion and integration with refugees and residents | 2018 –
- ‘Samen durven’ – integral and sustainable learning methodology for communities through social gardening under the Erasmus+ Programme, Key Action 1: Learning mobility of Individuals | 2022 – 2023
- KK33 Budapest – community in a historic garden | Hungary| 2008-2013
- Feldmár Summer University Camp | Hungary | July 2015
- Muiderslot, Amsterdam – working in a medieval vegetable garden | The Netherlands | 2015 – 2017
- Laterna Magica, Amsterdam – herb and vegetable garden with children | The Netherlands | 2016 – 2020
- Study visit and job shadowing at CESIE (www.cesie.org) Palermo, Italy in the frame of Erasmus+, Key Action 1, Mobility Grant. (November-December 2015)
- between October 2013 – May 2014, Sex/sexuality education – Personal development, prevention of discrimination and violence – the Pestalozzi Programme European Modules for Trainer Training.
- May 2011, “In Between Us” – Sexuality in Europe – participating at, “Using Art As A Pedagogical Tool”, international Grundtvig workshop. 20 participants were involved from 11 countries: Slovakia, Turkey, Belgium, Spain, Latvia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary. Organizer: CESIE – Palermo.
- August 2006, Earned my sex education diploma at San Francisco Sex Information ((SFSI – www.sfsi.org)), which is a free information and referral switchboard providing anonymous, accurate, non-judgmental information about sexuality in the US. In 2006 I was an independent visiting scholar at the Centre for Sex and Culture, San Francisco, CA; and I conducted fieldwork on SF-based sexuality, adult education and communication.
- Fall 2006, Certified Sex Educator, Sex Educator Training, San Francisco Sex Information (SFSI – www.sfsi.org) (US).
- Ph.D. Candidate on Sociology at Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary. Dissertation theme: Future Prospects of Sexuality Education in Hungary.
- Fall 2004, NYC, (US), Visiting Researcher at Rutgers University.
- Széchenyi István College of Social Sciences; courses listened to: social sciences, anthropology, and gender studies.
- MA in International Relations (major) and Marketing communication (minor) at Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration, Hungary.
- Where am I coming from and where am I going? – article on migration, identity and relationship in Humans on the move, VisegradRevue.eu
- Introduction to the intercultural approach of sexuality; article for professionals in the BODY project anthology (www.bodyproject.eu), Amsterdam, 2013.
- Woman, Mother, Lover- Motherhood and Sex, Jaffa Kiadó, Budapest, 2013.
- Where is Happiness Nowadays? (Hol a boldogság mostanában?), book chapter in Párkapcsolat Klinika psychological series, Kulcslyuk Kiadó, Budapest, 2011.
- Lovers (Szeretők), book chapter in Szeretők, titkos viszonyok lélektana, Jaffa Kiadó, Budapest, 2009.
- Father, What is Orgasm? (Apa, mi az az orgazmus?), book chapter in Igazi vagy?, Jaffa Kiadó, Budapest, 2008.
- Writing articles as a sex columnist for popular magazines, (HVG pszichológia, NLC, Elle, Meglepetés, MOHA).