Over the weekend of 6-7 December, 2008 an EQ team attended a conference in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki hosted by the local organization, ARSIS.
This event represented the culmination of the international project ‘Reinforcement of Non-formal Education and the Social Participation of Youth in Youth Centres’ and all seven partners (and five countries) were represented. Each partner gave a presentation featuring research findings relating to the subject of youth centre activity in their various locales and demonstrating a variety of models in Informal Education.
Each partner had devised a method of presenting a different subject –
- Association for the Social Support of Youth (ARSIS – Greece) – Intercultural society;
- Brasov Sustainable Development Agency (ADDB-Romania) – Human rights education;
- Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation (Bulgaria) – Violence in schools / domestic violence;
- Centre Informazione e Educazione allo Sviluppo (CIES – Italy) – Cultural events;
- Euro-net (Italy) – Active citizenship and social participation;
- Manneheimin Lastensuojeluliitto (The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare – Finland) – Combating school drop-outs;
- Equilibrium (Bulgaria) – European institutions.
EQ was required to work in the area of European institutions and organizations. Referring to the works of Ernest Gellner and others, David’s Thessaloniki presentation linked the fundaments of Bulgaria’s contemporary educational approach with a Slavic cultural paradigm – one nationalist blueprint among others – that emerged in the 19th century with the dissolution of European empires.
Helping young Bulgarians understand Europe as a political or cultural entity involves helping them understand the profound contrasts that reveal themselves in many Bulgarian homes and in the interaction between different generations. This involves lots of ‘-isms’ – particularism vs universalism; individualism vs collectivism; nationalism vs internationalism; traditionalism vs modernism. Big words but the ideas are easy to grasp if simply and graphically illustrated. European identity is about reconciling ‘-isms’.