22 Nov Balkan Kaleidoscope 1st International Event
Osijek, Croatia (15-18/11/2017)

The first Balkan Kaleidoscope international event was held 15 to 18 November in Osijek, Croatia, hosted by the project partner Centre for Peace and Non-violence. All together 13 partner organisations from 8 countries were represented in the training on the main topic multiperspectivity approaches and methodological concepts in history teaching. Twenty six (26) history teachers, pedagogues, sociologists, young scholars, youth workers, NGO practitioners were actively engaged in the workshops combining theoretic conceptualisation and practical approaches in present days history teaching on break-up of former Yugoslavia and consequent armed conflicts in the Balkans during 90’ties.
In introductory notes, Angel Cabarkapa on behalf of the host organisation and Stanka Parac Damjanovic on behalf of the lead applicant and coordinator presented the overal project concept in which the teachers and their students are put in focus while the very learning process is the core activity considered here as more inclusive and comprehensive. The composition of partnership established will allow for a wider perspective on the topics to be elaborated while the local expertise and practice are seen as the main motivation to encourage the debate and promotion of multiperspectivity in history teaching and learning.

The first set of four workshops delivered by dr. Jovana Trbovc Mihajlović (Scientific Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) included inter alia, evolution of memory narratives, post conflict remembrance paradigms in the Balkans, dealing with the past in history textbooks. Vivid debate and exchange of local practices was initiated in interactive workshops on present challenges and perspectives of multiperspectivity approaches. Specific focus in the debate was on perstistent politicisation and ethnocentric approach to history lessons in our schools across the region, while little has been done to encourages critical thinking and open the space for informed debate. In the group work participants were acquainted with a number of press releases related with the break up of former Yugoslavia as well with the work of the Hague Tribunal – and analysed the way the reports were presented to the local public in newly created independent countries.
Ms Veselinka Kastratovic, member and activitst of the Centre for Peace and Non-violence was the guest speaker on the first day presenting the local context in Croatia – with particular reference to war crimes trials and reconciliation process. Dealing with the past in local communities in Osijek Baranja area is to a large extent burdened with a large number of missing persons, unfinished war crime trials. However she reiterated the importance of the legacy of the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem into Croatia, as one of the successful example of engaging local population and the neighbours in interethnic conflict resolution process. She also presented a number of local communties in the area in which the small grass-root civil society organizations played a significant role in reconciliation process.
Professor Rudolf Weiss, history teacher from Subotica and president of the German People’s Alliance in Serbia had presentations and delivered training workshops on the second day of the seminar. In his introductory lecture, Professor Weiss spoke about local practice, history textbooks and the personal integrity of teachers. Interactive workshops, group work and history textbook analysis, development of a training tool kit that could be applied in partner communities were the main emphasis of the second training day. Further to this, participants were introduced with the contents and format of the local activities which they will be organising.
During the evaluation and closing workshop, the participants summarized the topics discussed and agreed through the joint evaluation the next steps in the implementation of the activities of the Balkan Kaleidoscope project. It was agreed that they will implement their envisaged local activities in the upcoming period until the next international event to be held in Mostar in October 2018 in close co-operation with the partner organisations. The creation of a webplatform is forseen to serve as learning tool and best practice exchange platform for the teachers engaged but also for the young people to be encouraged to explore and seek common historic language.