Part C - c1 - Objectives & priorities

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The general objective of “All Quiet” was to let gradually let the participants become aware of our common history. How enemies became friend, how different EU-countries learned to live peacefully together by reflecting about peace today and how the participants see peace-development in the next decades in the EU.

This general objective was our common thread in each part during all our trainings and meetings in  the next 18 months . Every training or meeting started with activities that awakened the awareness of our history. 

We took our participants to the Flanders Fields area to let them feel what impact the Great War had 100 years ago. Although we visited the more popular places, we also had our own team of experts who guided  the group to places less known, sharing specific stories often referring to the countries involved in our project. Both, visits and historical talk sessions, were always followed by debates  about current European topics such as the refugee issue, the Brexit-issue, the safety-issue after the terror attacks. On our website you can find reports in detail of those debates.

Generally, these talk sessions brought very interesting discussions on the table. And more than we could expect, topics were easily linked with the historical background. For instance, the current refugee issue was discussed in a historical context.   Participants compared  the situation then (1914) and now (2015).  It was also noticeable that youngsters became aware of the connection between different topics (European borders, terror threat, refugees, warfare from above,…).  Participants learned to see the concatenation and linkage of these issues, and the difficulties our European Union undergoes to transform this into a common law.

One debate was held during a visit to the European Parliament, where we were the only visitors because of the terror attack in Brussels in March 2016 which happened just a week before our meeting.  We saw an empty European district and participants realized that our peace is vulnerable as well as our democratic institute. We talked about a possible Brexit too, weeks before this became reality. Very interesting was the presence of Irish and Northern Irish (UK) participants in our project, especially when we talked about  the pro and con’s of a European membership. During our meeting in July, weeks after the Brexit, it came clear that a lot of (but not all) youngsters regret the Brexit.  Our project certainly brought them insight in the importance of European collaboration, although it was never our goal to indoctrinate participants with pro European ideas. They came rather quickly to  this conclusion by themselves  so that we could focus on the next topics: ‘What kind of European collaboration do we need? How do you see peace-development in Europe in the next decades?’.

In addition to the debates and talks, learning sessions and historical facts, one should not forget the moments of remembrance in our project, in particular the great importance youngsters assign to commemoration. During the last meeting in July 2016, they took the lead to organize a memorial without any feed of supervisors. The initiative confirmed the idea that young people also feel the need to clear their conscience.  The added value of a holistic approach can’t be underestimated, considering the sort of topic they were dealing with. For the same reason, sports and leisure activities were deployed regularly in the programme(s).

To assure that youngsters were closely involved in each step of the project, we needed to employ  methods that made them feel comfortable. Participants came from Eastern-, Western- and Southern Europe with very different lingual, social and cultural backgrounds.  We must be aware that some of them live in a social vulnerable environment in their countries. They grew up with a low self-confidence. For some of them “Europe and the EU” is a meaningless concept with a rather negative connotation.  That is why, above all, the supervisors of the project had to create an acceptable  environment.

Combining a variety of (classic and new) methods, the international mixed taskforces practised in story-telling which was the common thread supporting the whole project.   

-storytelling (living history),
We’ve noticed that “stories” were the key to the success of our project: young people really want to hear these stories. They also want to share them with others, and certainly they also want to assimilate their own experiences into new stories.  Due to this approach, history becomes ‘living history’.    

-combining a variety of (new and classic) methods
It was our aim to combine ‘classic’ and ‘new’ methods for our story-telling method. Youngsters met with a diversity of techniques and they gradually learned to use them until the final presentation. (click here to take a look at our guidebook) (broken link/online soon)

- international mixed taskforces and taskforce - collaboration
We set up International taskforces, each with their own specific angle of incidence (music, video, social media, newsroom,…) and they also had to collaborate between taskforces. Interaction between these groups was very important for the whole story that they commonly presented.