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Balkan Without Hate

NGO “35mm”
Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Italy, Greece, Estonia March 2016 to March 2017
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The project explored how young people and youth work can benefit from the creation of genuine youth documentaries on what kind of (multicultural) societies they want to live in.
The purpose was to showcase that young people from different, and usually perceived as conflicting, national identity groups, can work together and produce something valuable.

Peacebuilding
Digital media
Migrants
Combating Hate Speech
Discrimination
 

The main target group were youth workers who have been actively working in youth civil society organisations. The project identified youth workers who needed practical and innovative tools in order to advance their youth work practice and tackle more effectively the issues in their respective societies. The young people from different communities were also a target group. The project's long term vision was to see the young people become integrated and engaged in creative and constructive ways to become active citizens.

The participants were selected based on the criteria of their attitude towards exploring and reflecting upon their own and others’ youth work practice. It was important that they were also willing and motivated to engage the project in their own communities / countries during the follow-up phase. Some of the engaged youth workers were selected on the basis of having had previous knowledge and experience on using digital media and new technologies.
One of the needs for this project has been the rise in most European countries of incidents inspired by xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. The Balkans is known for frequent conflicts and disagreements, especially when it comes to disagreements along ethnic and religious grounds. This historical situation has contributed to the increase of hatred and xenophobia that has targeted increasing numbers of refugees from Syria and other countries.

The project also responds to the need to include innovative and creative tools in tackling these issues. The project is focused on developing different ways for using video-production in youth work. It is also focused on putting young people at the forefront as active promoters of ideas and leaders of peaceful and progressive societies in Europe.

 

The aims of the project

  • The main aim of the project is to explore how young people and youth work can benefit from the creation of genuine youth documentaries. The theme of the documentaries is based on the kind of (multicultural) societies they want to live in.

 

  Background

In 2014/2015 NGO “35 mm”, from podgorica, Montenegro, with the support of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, was the leader of the project ‘Podgorica Without Hate’. In Podgorica there were two groups of high-school students – Albanian and Montenegrin – who are known to have had some bad history regarding bigotry and a lack of understanding of each other’s culture, nationality and religious beliefs, etc. There were a number of workshops where they all met and learned about each other’s history, and other conflict transformation related topics. The last phase of the project was the making of a short movie. All the young people presented the movie to their peers, to their families and teachers. The story in the movie reflected their experience and learning and related to the importance of understanding and reasoning when it comes to other nationalities and religious beliefs. The movie was very well received and was broadcast on public service TV. The live TV broadcast also featured the young people discussing their ideas when making the movie. The movie was titled, ‘Za(o)tvoreni um’ which means ‘Closed Mind / For OPEN Mind’.
 

This project was basis for the development of the project ‘Balkan without Hate’. This time the project was enlarged in order to offer opportunities to youth workers in more countries.
 

The purpose of ‘Balkan without Hate’ is to showcase that young people from different and conflicting national identity groups can work together and produce something valuable. The purpose is also to show that young people are more than those who enter into fights. It is to show that young people have solutions and ideas of how they would like the Balkans and Europe to function without hate.
 

The practical approach of the project ensures a deep learning process as well as a profound awareness process for the youth workers as participants. They will be motivated (and supported by the promoters) to further mobilise the young people they work with using the outcomes of the project.
The project relates closely with the Youth on the Move initiative under the EU 2020 goals - strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The project will support youth workers to mobilize young people in order to empower them through active participation and use of video production and media.
The project gathered partners from across the Balkan region and other countries in an effort to deal constructively with the past and to simultaneously take a step forward looking to the future. The plan involves 4 to 5 people per country. This is to support the process of sharing experiences and exploring by-doing, the use of video production in youth work, particularly in dealing with divisions, growing nationalism, hate, intolerance, and discrimination. The youth workers participating in the project, explored the use of video production and jointly made a movie on the theme of ‘Balkan without Hate’. This movie is to be disseminated and used to encourage young people, through creative expression, to get involved in creating a better world and oppose hate in society.
 

The project had 3 phases, the ‘Preparation’ phase saw the partner organisations selecting the youth workers who would participate in the project. The participants were asked to identify positive examples of multiculturalism and coexistence in their communities and to photograph or record them. This would be used later in their youth work practice. The partners had meetings with the participants before the actual training in Montenegro. This phase lasted for 5 months.
 

The ‘Mobility’ phase was for 10 days and was a training course held in Montenegro. It consisted of sessions on youth work practice regarding: identity & diversity, non-violence, multiculturalism, value of peace and conflict transformation, dealing with the past and the war history of Europe and Balkans, and youth activism in a ‘hate’ context. There were also more technical sessions on video-production. During the 10 days the participants made a movie titled ‘SIGEMBR’. The movie represents the Balkans / Europe with having a ‘virus of xenophobia’. It was designed to be a teaser to encourage young people in the home communities of the youth workers to get involved in becoming active and recording their own visions of the ‘cure for the virus’.

The third phase was the ‘Follow-up’. After the training in Montenegro, the participants went back to their home countries. They presented their experience and the SIGEMBR movie to their organisation to get the support from the organisation for the next step in the follow-up phase. This next step included small scale campaigns in each involved country to recruit young people to explore the same or other related issues through watching the SIGEMBR. They would then create their own even more relevant movie based on their own context. This phase lasted for between 3 and 6 months.

The nature of the project meant there were very concrete outcomes that can be useful for youth workers everywhere. The participants were encouraged to use and adapt the new tools to their realities and share it with their organisations on local, national and international level. The organiser and trainer team and the reinforced partnerships with all the involved organisations served as a networking tool for creating a sustainable network of multipliers in the use of video in youth work across Europe. The host organisation and partners promoted the results of the training through different channels of communication, newsletters and to the media.

 

  Innovation and Impact

The innovation of this project lies in the experience, knowledge and attitudes gained and developed during the whole project, as well as the created joint product in the form of the short movie ‘SIGEMBR’. The innovation is in the concept of creating a movie that the youth worker participants take away and show to the young people they work with in order that those young people create a response movie.

The outcomes of the training course and the subsequent follow-up activities and movies were announced on the websites of the all the organisations involved, on blogs, YouTube channels, and social networks. Participants acquired new skills and knowledge about new technologies and the digital media world.
On the European level the impact is in young people from different European countries being empowered to take up their role in promoting their vision of Europe (and particularly Balkans) without hate and in shaping the societies to match this vision. The project increased the participants’ positive awareness of other cultures and hate-related issues in different European contexts.
The partner organisations benefited from the transfer of knowledge and skills from their youth worker participants in multiplying the use of video production in their youth work practice. They were also able to work with the young people on leadership and active citizenship for the purpose of building societies without hate.
 

The most important impact of the project was the movie SIGEMBR on the topic of ‘Balkans without Hate’. The movie is being used as an innovative educational tool to start off in depth discussion on the identified issues.

 

  Link with the Council of Europe

European Youth Foundation:  The project ‘Podgorica without Hate’  was funded and supported by the European Youth Foundation.

This project inspired ‘Balkan without Hate’ which was financially supported the Erasmus+ Youth in Action programme of the European Commission.

 

  Partners and Contacts

  • Associata GEYC (Group of the European Youth for Change) - Romania
  • PRONI Center for youth development - Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Identities - Italy
  • Green Spirit - Greece
  • Seiklejate Vennaskond - Estonia
  • Idejanet Klub - Serbia

 

 

 

Further information

Social media accounts…

 

SIGEMBR teaser…  

Media coverage…