“DURch Europa”: Peer group education in Hungary, Romania and Germany

INES is more than just a forum to promote scientific dialogue between students, alumnies and experts. It also functions as an umbrella institution for groups who want to realize their projects, but have difficulties to find a sponsor.
One good example is the “DURch Europa” project, launched by a group of students by the end of 2006.

During a European Youth Educator seminar in Bremen, organized by the Centre for Applied Political Science, the idea arose to use the new skills as “Peer Group Educators” in an international context, to promote European Integration with afocus on three European countries: Germany, Hungary and Romania. Basically, the plan was to make up groups of young people in each of these countries. During the first year they should participate in a seminar concerning the European Union (EU) as well as political and social topics in their home countries. In the second year they all meet in Germany to work together, to exchange their views and to learn even more about themselves and Europe.
In September 2007 the “DURch Europa” project, being integrated in the INES programme, received the confirmation for funding from the German agency of the “Youth in Action” Programme of the EU.
The first part of the project took place in a high school in Kazincbarcika/Northern Hungary under the leadership of Roman Fleißner, who himself worked in the same school during his European Voluntary Service.
The participants, students of this high school, were between 16 and 21 years old. As the whole project was held in German, the proficiency in the working language was one of the major requirements in order to participate.
In general, the programme included workshops and games concerning the EU, but referred also to stereotypes of other nationalities like Germans or Romanians. The Hungarian students experienced a new type of teaching and new learning methods and learned how to cooperate. The major part of the five-days-seminar was a role play about the enlargement of the EU. Having been provided with information and material from the Centre for Applied Political Science and the Regional Centre for Political Education, we chose the scenario of Turkey and Croatia applying for EU membership status. The purpose of this game was to understand the political process and the issue of decision making within the EU, including the European Parliament, the Commission, the Council of the EU, the press and the different positions of the countries in- as well as outside the EU.
The second part of the project took part on a farm in Rusciori, a small town next to Sibiu in Romania, which was the European Culture Capital of 2007 and is really worthwhile visiting. In this rural environment we organized a five-days seminar in cooperation with the German Forum Bucharest. Besides the major workshops of the first seminars, such as the role play, different workshops were added: a seminar considering teamwork, another one about manipulation, as well as a theatre workshop. We gained a lot of new experiences and impressions, not only because of a very interesting, historical location in Romania.
After an adventurous trip to our last destination, the capital of Bucharest, we arrived just at the beginning of the new school year of the German School, the “Goethe College”. The official and very successful initiation of our seminar took place in the Schillerhaus, an institution representing the German minority in Romania. The participants, teachers and journalists were present at the opening event on Monday.
The carefully selected participants took part in a similar programme as the Hungarian students. The focus was once more on the EU and the role play, but this time there were special workshops on environment and tolerance, too. Environmental issues proved to be topical and important for the Romanian youth. Considering the issue of prejudice against the Hungarian minority, we saw the necessity for a special workshop on tolerance.
Like the other groups, the participants there also had to learn how to work in teams, to present their results, to cooperate and, of course, what the EU is all about.
They all agreed on the role play as the most exciting part of the seminar and were looking forward to the second part of the project which will include meeting the other groups in Germany.
Today, the “DURch Europa”-team looks back in satisfaction, but still cannot lay back and relax: There is still the German part of the project to be accomplished and the second part left to organize.

Website of the project: http://www.durch-europa.eu/

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