All quiet 2015

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Short description of the project

100 years ago, Europe was at war. The south–west of Flanders (Belgium) was one of the great battlefields where our forefathers fought. In 2015 and 2016, 60 youngsters from 8 European countries (from North, East, South, West Europe) will gather on those same battlefields in Ypres.

The main aim of this project is to make youth curious about how democracy and peace grew in Europe over the last century. What do they think about peace nowadays, and how do they see peace-development in the next decades?

The approach is based on the 'historical consciousness' or 'living history', where participants go through a multiphase process, under the guidance of European history coaches. Starting from a local search for artifacts and stories in their hometowns, they bring their findings along to 2 exchange meetings where the participants from all different countries physically meet each other. During these exchanges they visit the Flanders Fields area, hold remembrance moments and initiate an intercultural dialogue about peace and democracy in Europe. The mixed delegations discuss about migration, a European army, tolerance, the democratic EU-institutes in Brussels, which they will visit as well. Finally all their experiences are collected in a digital presentation, which they bring back home, as a feedback to their fellow-citizens.

Simultaneously, the history coaches create a balanced learning-concept that integrates world-war-heritage, remembrance and contemporary peace and democracy issues. This concept will be disseminated on an official, known European platform of history teachers. This will hand history teachers a guidebook, a useful tool, that they can use in classrooms all over Europe.

 

Experience of the project organisers in the field concerned.

The idea to set up a project that links cultural heritage (100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War) and European peace and democracy was born in 2010.  It took many years of preparation, therefor, a pilot project was set up in 2012, involving German, Belgian and Northern-Irish youngsters. 29 youngsters gathered in Ypres and Brussels, they held remembrance ceremonies, visited the Flanders Fields area, discussed about European issues and held a debate in one of the European buildings in Brussels with Jean-Luc Dehaene, former prime minister of Belgium and (at the time) representative of the European parliament. After this meeting, they went to their own local councils to talk about what they had learned and experienced.

This group of youngsters who participated, were initially not so familiar with European issues. They came from social environments with fewer chances, and were not used to talk in front of a group, or in another language. They learnt about the common European history, learnt to set up a dialogue, to negotiate, to use arguments and learnt to know the mechanisms of democracy. 

JCW, the promoter and organizer, invested a lot of time and work in this project. We found the right partners at home and abroad who each have their own speciality. There was Ryckevelde vzw (promoting European citizenship), We'll remember pops (content, guides), European Commission Representation in Belgium (content, Europe), Newtownabbey Borough council, platform network for European youth activities (European partners),... The complete list consisted of almost 20 organizations that were involved.

In addition, many other organisations were consulted, like the Flemish peace institute, In Flanders Fields museum,... this to assure that we would have the right approach and the historical correctness. This multidisciplinary network was formed, consisting of different kinds of organisations (education, government, youth, culture,..).

 

 

Objectives (general and specific), themes and features

The general objective of ‘All Quiet’ is to gradually let the participants become aware of our common European history. How enemies became friends and how the different European countries have learned to live together peacefully over the years. Even more important, is to reflect about peace nowadays, and how the participants see peace-development in the next decades (in Europe, in the World).

The centenary of the Great War is the starting point of ‘All Quiet’. JCW puts the war in its historical context by showing events that happened before and after the Great War (WWII and the Cold War) and by taking the line right up to the present day. The contemporary European context will become even more clear when they visit the EU-institutions in Brussels, where a debate with member(s) of the European parliament is planned. Encouraging participants of the awareness of the European context, and how decisions about democracy and peace in our countries are made, will set their minds more and more on a European level, and this will give them the chance to grow and to be part of it.

The dissemination of their experiences in their hometowns, in the form of a digital presentation, strengthens the European knowledge, diversity and values. This way, they take their first steps in civil participation, inviting their fellow-citizens to also think about the European issues they have been discussing.

JCW uses the method of 'living history' and ‘storytelling’. ‘All Quiet’ brings young people from 8 different countries together and encourages them to reflect about remembrance, commemoration and peace. Youngsters explore how peace grew in Europe during the last century, and they reflect and talk about peace-development (and peace-keeping) in the future.

Participation of young people is the most important aspect of this project. The participants from all countries are involved in each step of the project from the very beginning. Because they are involved in the whole process, they will grow towards mutual understanding. Their stories, discussions and dialogue will lead the agenda, and will give direction to the process/project. As they learn from each other’s stories, they will experience differences and similarities in cultural backgrounds, individual opinions,... and they will also see their own identity, partly as a product of their own environment. Participants will learn how to negotiate, how to search for compromises and make agreements. We do not want them to learn how to be a good politician, but let them try to find solutions by dialogue. Also, they will be asked about all findings and impressions (common and personal) about these mechanisms of democracy.

The target group consists of young people with very different backgrounds. The methodology of JCW fits perfectly to the needs of disadvantaged youngsters. When developing an activity we start from the interests and abilities of the participants themselves. They help determine the program and the rate at which this is done (tailored to each participant individually). The participants are closely monitored by specially educated history coaches, this creates a safe environment for young people where they can develop and emancipate themselves.

Working cross-sectoral (leisure and school) creates an added value within this project in terms of content as well as in terms of range and facilitation.

 

Activity plan / work programme of the project

The project is divided in 6 phases: the preparation, a local search, the first meeting, a top local and regional action,  the second meeting and the local feedback and European dissemination. In each of these phases, the youngsters and the coaches are involved, except for the first preparatory activity (general, organizational agreements,...).

Working methods:

The method of living history and storytelling is the common thread in this project:  By reading each other’s stories on the blog and through the meetings with other Europeans the youngsters are involved from the very beginning. These stories, discussions, and dialogues will lead the agenda, and will give direction to (the process of) the project. As they learn from each other’s stories, they will experience differences and similarities in cultural backgrounds, individual opinions,... and they will also see their own identity, partly as a product of their own environment.  To be aware of this is the first step in showing respect for other cultures. The dialogue is there for a deeper exploration of this diversity. Repeatedly, they will have to think and work together on topics, and learn to make compromises.

Dividing participants in smaller intercultural groups will have a positive effect on group dynamics: they will have to make new relations and they will have to trust each other. At a given moment they will leave their familiar environment of fellow nationals, and create new friendships 

European dimension:

Young people will make a travel in time, one hundred years ago, just before the war broke out, the view of Europe was totally different. Also in the minds of people living in Europe, probably, they were not very aware of being Europeans. In this project, we start from that moment in history, exploring the radical changes the next decades, to understand nowadays something like ‘European citizenship’. It is our hope youngsters can give some content, a meaning to this citizenship. What does it mean for them? What can it mean or what do they want it to mean? Do they find it important, also in their local communities?

Thinking about these questions, they will explore the founding principles of the EU, and make a comparison with the situation now.They will think about: which kind of liberty, democracy and respect for eachother do we want? In the EU itself, but also the position of the EU in the World.

We realize that these subjects aren’t very evident to talk about for youngsters. Though, it is our belief that this approach will sharpen their EU-awareness and launches a very interesting dialogue. 

At the same time (parallel or better: simultaneously) teachers from all over Europe develop a (hopefully good) practise how to make the link between our European history, remembrance, and nowadays European issues, peace and democracy.     

Link with the objectives & working method:

Combining themes like remembrance, heritage, commemoration, history and democratic (European) issues is  complex . Though, it is our goal -and our challenge- to achieve this objective by working "step by step". For that reason, the activity plan includes sufficient preparatory activities and moments of consultation where both youngsters and coaches (teachers) are present (together). The growing awareness of the European context, and the knowledge of how decisions about democracy and peace are made in Europe, sets their mind on a European level, giving them the chance to be (more and more) a part of it.

 

 

Dissemination

All Quiet wants to reflect on our common European history and increase the awareness of the importance of peace-development in Europe and the world. Through this project a large number of fellow-citizens will be involved and informed, directly and indirectly. For instance the young participants, their families, peers, the history teachers and their students, the (youth) organizations from the 8 different countries and their members, the partner organizations and their followers.

The method and timing:

The dissemination of the results of All Quiet will be carried out in two different ways:

Firstly dissemination through the young participants: at 3 different times during the project the youngsters are working on a ‘product’ which can be spread after the completion of the activities.

1. A local search for artifacts and stories in their hometowns and the first introduction: the youngster will publish their finds on a blog (or using other multimedia like FB, you tube …). The blog is a first (online) ‘meeting place’, where they can respond to each other’s articles before they actually meet in person. This way they can tell their stories to their peers from the other participating countries in Europe. (Spring 2015)

2. The first physical meeting: During this exchange meeting, they get the chance to tell each other their stories and they make a presentation of their findings. During the week they work into smaller groups, where they are encouraged to dialogue with each other. The participants will make presentations for which they can use different methods for instance: camera-interviews, a PowerPoint presentation, audio-recordings ... These presentations will be collected and put on display on our website and blog. (July 2015)

3. During the second and final meeting: The youngsters collaborate to make a digital presentation. (July 2016)

Secondly dissemination through the European history coaches: At different times during the project the European history coaches are working on a ‘product’.

-->  A summary report (content) of all sessions, including preparation and evaluation sessions (July 2016)

This project is a new approach for looking to democracy:  the combination of (living) history, heritage, science, technology, and thematic issues as tolerance and peace is a new way to look at things, to try to understand them and to create an image in the here and now, and for the future. Therefore we consider it is useful to collect all aspects of this project in a file (a document) that can be used for other projects. This document will be available for organizations that are looking for inspiration.

 

The promotion of the project All Quiet and the publication of the results will be disseminated through the following channels:

- Reports in our JCW - magazine (each time a 2 page article, 3500 ex.), and reports in the news letter of JCW (2500 ex.), announcements on the JCW website (181.000 unique visits).

- Announcements and reports on the websites, magazines and newsletters of the organizations in the 8 other European countries.

- Announcements and reports on the websites, magazines and newsletters of the European Platform Euroclio and Ryckevelde.

- Promotion through local towns: city councils, libraries, cultural places (feedback local civilians)

- Press releases (inter)national media: national, regional and local media will be invited (press-text send to more than 200 contacts)

 

 

Impact and Citizens involvement

Effects:

Participants link local stories with a bigger European context, as they listen to similar/different stories from fellow young Europeans. Participants learn to understand that historical situations and events were (and still are) important turning points of our history. They learn to detect trends and evolutions nowadays, comparing them with these situations of the past.

Participants learn to see themselves as (full) Eu-citizens who can have influence and who are able to shape the union, along with others.

The local communities (friends, parents, neighbours,..) get involved as the participants search the stories in their neighborhood. Fellow-citizens are able to find and follow these stories on a website (blog), it may stimulate them to be more involved in EU-matters. The history - teachers (coaches) report regularly about their experiences, the aim and objectives of this project via the Euroclio - platform, and the environment they live and work in. History teachers all over Europe are able to use a tool (manual, guidebook) that can help them to create integrated history-classes ( integrated: remembrance, commemoration, peacekeeping and democracy, Eu - issues).

The digital presentation made by the participants is a feedback to local communities can be added as a good practice in combination with the guidebook.

We hope participants and teachers will spread out the good experiences and stimulate others to get involved in Eu-matters.

 

Involvement participants:

As previously indicated, participants are a part of each phase of the project. They set the agenda and the approach, decide which methods are used and in which form their experiences are disseminated. For that reason, they are also involved in the training sessions, along with the coaches, who have a supporting role in this project.

 

Percentage of participants that were not involved in NGO's already:  

None of the youngsters are already on a regular basis involved in the NGO's that send them, because these international partners are regional umbrella-organizations that recruit individually. All of the partners are instructed to pay special attention to youngsters with fewer opportunities that aren't so familiar with the (EU-) topics.  We will ask our partners to recruit 50% of the participants with this profile (no background or experience in NGO's).