Part B - b4 - Description of activities

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The All Quiet project contained 5 key parts: a preparatory weekend, 2 training sessions and 2 meetings.

The first activity was a preparatory weekend. International partners and the organizing committee gathered in the heart of Europe (Brussels) to fix the programme, for the next 18 months. One deputy of each delegation was invited to this preliminary weekend, which lasted 3 days. Sessions during this kick-off were mainly set up to elaborate the programme, but there also were some cultural moments to promote the group dynamics. The initiators clarified the aims of the project, and together we launched All Quiet.

Activities 2 & 4: Trainings (April 2015 & April 2016)

A few weeks later (April 2015) the first training took off: each delegation was able to send 1 history educator, accompagnied with 1 youngster to the assembly in Leuven. The choice of Leuven was rather obvious:  this student city is well known for its universities, but it also has an atrocious history as a martyr city during World War 1 (German soldiers burned the library down and executed civilians).

In this training both, history educators  and youngsters, were present. The idea of bringing them together was a step into the unknown, but it worked very well. This way, both of them had to take into account each others wishes and expectations.  The educators had let go a bit the traditional school approach and the youngsters were asked to use social media in an educational context. The outcome of this mission was that they had to use their creativity. The task was not easy, but it worked encouraging and they were very motivated and determined to accomplish. In some cases, this approach led to amusing results (for instance, how the Italian delegation made a presentation of a fictional WW1 soldier, Daniele Bernardi, who uses his Twitter-account to avoid going to war). Click here to watch.      

World War 1 is significative in All Quiet, therefore,  it was important to have our start in the Flanders Fields region. JCW vzw, the promotor of All Quiet, provided 2 guides who were well prepared for this task, in which it was our aim to add value to the visits of cemeteries and museums. Complementary, it was our goal to find new methodologies and therefore, we needed a specific  approach. During the training, participants created a toolbox to bring this new approach to live. The toolbox introduces new media applications and platforms that easily can be integrated in a learning environment and creates a interrelationship between remembrance, historical facts and actuality. These first experiments were the take-off for the guidebook and were further tested and developed  during the next trainings and meetings.   

The full extend and elaboration of the approach can be found online on the website allquiet.be, along with pictures, videos and other media files. The guidebook is a step-by-step presentation of this approach and is open (for free) for anyone who wants to consult it. History educators all over Europe are invited via our partner Euroclio to have a look at.        

 Activities 3 & 5: Meetings (July 2015 & July 2016)

For the meetings, the group of participants was a lot bigger. Youngsters who were there in the trainings participated again in the meetings, but this time they brought their fellow-youngsters with them. The advantage was that there was a young person in each delegation (country) who already knew about the purpose(s) of the project. This way,  the aims were supported by the whole group without the need of an adult supervisor (who was present though). This was also contributory for the communication in the (sub)group of young pioneers, which was composed with members of each country. It may be mentioned that all youngsters were mixed in international groups during all activities.

The first meeting (July 2015) was held in the Flanders Fields area, and similar to the first training participants became acquainted with the history of the First World War. Again, to become aware of this dark page of Europe’s past and to find the most early roots of a European awareness. The cemeteries and trenches (both sides), the Last Post,… it was overwhelming. Youngsters were deeply impressed when the extent of this war opened up. Most of them knew more or less about the Second World War due to the existence of numerous documentaries and movies. Remarkable how the First World slowly got overshadowed, undoubtedly for young generations. They learned to see the clear link between these wars, that are inseparable and should preferably be approached as one story. They also became aware of the fact that this conflict had no good or bad side, that both sides lost in this war and that a high prize was paid by everyone involved.  A lot of participants said they really see the value of peace nowadays. Even youngsters who accentuated the imperfection of the European project realized that Europe’s peace is a priority that should not be given up.

It were again our excellent guides who led the group on the old battlefields, who presented stories that could be linked to the history of each country involved.

An important part of all activities were the debates that were held. Europe and the Union found themselves in turbulent times during our project. The immigrant and refugees issues, the threat  and execution of terrorist acts, … the EU- foundations were (and still are) thoroughly tested.  Obviously, these current issues triggered the conversations. All youngsters involved clearly saw the gravity of what was going on. These crises brought “Europe” as a vague concept really close to their everyday lives. They were really  touched, which resulted in spontaneous remembrance moments as an altereffect for their emotions.   

As debates were going on, the idea to outspread  (a) new story(-ies) grew little by little. A framework was set up wherein participants could experiment with sound, pictures, text, video… In these sessions, which we called taskforces, we used a toolkit of new social media and applications. These apps are free available and fast growing on the ‘new media market’ and youngsters are keen to employ them.

The aim to create one big presentation grew. Therefore we created an ‘archipel of taskforce-islands’. All the taskforces were asked to collaborate with each other (taskforce video, taskforce sound, taskforce zeppelin, taskforce news &  social media,…), and an overarching taskforce ‘expo’ was mothered.

Presentation

In one of the sessions of our second meeting, our group discussed ‘war from above’, referring to the millions of Syrian refugees who fled from the threat from above (bombs by drones, barrel bombs,..), but also referring to the first airships 100 years ago that were used to drop bombs. (verwijzing)

The idea to build a Zeppelin came forward, along with the intent to make a presentation for the citizens of Leuven.  July 31th, our group occupied a big square in the Centre of the city. Each taskforce contributed to this presentation and we invited civilians to enter the zeppelin and to visit the exhibition inside to have a look at what our group has been doing the last 18 months. Of course, in advance we asked the city council for permission and we also invited media (local, regional, national TV and papers). 

As our group constructed the Zeppelin, we received a call from a national( Flamish) tv-news-reporter and  our story ended up in the VRT-news 13h national news and the 19h national news. In that way we reached 1.066.000 Belgian viewers. See the audience ratings report on our website www.allquiet.be, as well as more details of the taskforces results and the presentation. Please also visit the (open) all quiet Facebook page