ACT students debate and create CDRSEE visibility plan

March 2015 -- A group of students from the American College of Thessaloniki - ACT- brainstormed and worked together to come up with several unique plans to raise the visibility of the CDRSEE, as part of an ACT extra-curricular activity for students from a variety of majors who are interested in NGOs.

The CDRSEE took part in the case-study activity as part of its own marketing plan. The Center staff appreciated the youthful ideas, and was also happy to share their projects and goals in hopes of inspiring the students to work for democracy and human rights in any part of the world.

Three CDRSEE staff members and 20 ACT students came together for five hours to tackle the issue of CDRSEE's visibility in Thessaloniki.  In the past, the CDRSEE has maintained a low profile locally, while working and becoming well known abroad for its education and media projects. The goal is to play a more important role in the local community as well.

After a brief presentation about the organization and its ongoing projects, there was a lively discussion and analysis of the actual problem. The students were then divided in six groups and debated ideas and solutions.

They engaged in active dialogue -- a key to the CDRSEE's projects and programmes -- and came up with various inspiring ideas for raising the Center's visibility.

Finally, votes were placed and the three most-voted ideas were discussed further by the group as a whole and analysed as to how they could be practically implemented by the Center.

The case-study activity was an exciting opportunity to interact with students. The students were able to practice transforming abstract ideas into concrete actions, in a pleasant, encouraging atmosphere.

The American College of Thessaloniki (ACT) is the tertiary division of Anatolia College, an institution with a long and prestigious history that dates back to 1886.


Japanese newspaper cites JHP's work "on common understanding"

March 13, 2015 -- The major Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, based in Tokyo with a daily circulation of about 8 million, featured the CDRSEE and its Joint History Project in a recent series on history education around the world, citing "the goal to prevent the wounds from the past from becoming deeper and to work on common understanding".

The Asahi Shimbun correspondents visited the CDRSEE last month, speaking with Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac and Programmes Director Corinna Noack-Aetopulos about the project and its impact.

They went on to Kosovo, and spoke with educators who count on the JHP materials in their classrooms. JHP workbooks are in use in many schools in Kosovo and supported by the local Ministries of Education.

The reporters also visited a school in Bujanovac, where the teacher there uses the JHP books "with the goal to prevent the wounds from the past from becoming deeper and to work on common understanding", the newspaper said.

To read an English-language translation of the portion of the article that refers to the CDRSEE's work,please click here.



History teachers, together in Mostar, discuss conflictive past

March, Mostar -- Twenty-eight high school history teachers from across the Western Balkans came together in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to discuss the conflictive past, as part of the CDRSEE's project to create multi-perspective teaching materials that cover the history of the region.

The meeting was an important step in the second phase of the CDRSEE's Joint History Project, which will provide workbooks for teaching the history after the Second World War and during the Wars of the 1990s.

The teachers spent the weekend of March 6 to 8, 2015, in Mostar for a training seminar on the existing JHP alternative history education materials, which are used in schools across the region, but also to provide insights and suggestions for the upcoming workbooks.

The teachers and trainers, from Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Cyprus and Romania, worked in multi-ethnic groups to provide feedback and insights, and to make suggestions from personal experience for using the multi-perspective materials in the classroom. A representative of the Federal Ministry of Education of Bosnia and Herzegovina also took part in the seminar, as the Ministry is an associate in the project.

During the seminar, the participants went together to visit the Division Line between the Croat and Bosniak areas of the city, as well as many sites around Mostar. Participants had the opportunity to speak with the people of the city who were first-hand witnesses and lived through the Wars of the 1990s. It was a weekend of intense discussion, which touched upon a difficult past that is very fresh in the memories.

Participants from Albania and Romania shared their experiences during the Cold War, which will also be covered under the new teaching materials.

The teachers who attended the seminar said it was especially thought-provoking to discuss and compare with teachers from different countries, calling it a "unique" and "interesting" experience.

The JHP materials in development will extend CDRSEE's proven tool for reconciliation to the sensitive recent history of Southeast Europe. Many teachers said they enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to come together to compare history teaching in the different countries.

The seminar was the second in a series of three. The first took place in December 2014 in Vukovar, Croatia, and the final will take place on March 27-29, 2015, in Bujanovac, Serbia.



European TV association highlights "extraordiniary success" of Okruzenje

March, 2015 -- The Association of Commercial Television in Europe praised the CDRSEE's regional current affairs talk show "Okruzenje" ("Vicinities") for its "extraordinary success", featuring the show as an example of the positive impact that TV can have in the world.

For its monthly newsletter to members and politicians, ACT interviewed CDRSEE Executive Director and Okruzenje co-host Zvezdana Kovac about the show, the subjects discussed, and the impact it is having. 

"(I)n this edition we are changing the subject somewhat, to remind ourselves and our readers of the powerful positive impact of the medium of television by featuring the extraordinary success of the show ‘Okruzenje’, or ‘Vicinities’," ACT said in introducing the interview.

The show, about to launch its fourth season, is still exciting and meaningful for all those involved. "(A)lready the impact on reconciliation and cross-border communication in the region has been significant, in fact very exciting! People from the region are talking with one another. And that is the point -- to get people talking," Kovac told ACT.

The full article, "Vicinities: can a TV show build bridges across borders?", can be found at:


With RTK1 as new partner, Okruzenje to air in both Serbian and Albanian in Kosovo

March, 2015 -- "Okruzenje" gained another important TV channel partner, Albanian-language RTK1 of Kosovo, which means that the fourth season will be broadcast on both the Serbian- and Albanian-language TV channels of Kosovo's public TV station RTK, as the show continues on its mission to bring together the people of the Balkans.

CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac met with the General Director of RTK, Mentor Shala, where they discussed the new season of Okruzenje, or "Vicinities in English", and the role of partner TV stations. The two wrapped up the meeting with Mr. Shala signing the Memorandum of Understanding that seals Okruzenje's future on both RTK1 in Albanian and RTK2 in Serbian.

RTK2 aired both Seasons II and III of Okruzenje as well, and it has long been the team's goal to bring RTK1 on board as well.

This brings the number of channels that will broadcast Okruzenje to 10. Just last month, Albanian Public TV RTSH signed on as well.

Both Albanian-language channels will broadcast the shows with subtitles.



Japanese daily to focus on JHP

Feb 16, 2015 -- The CDRSEE will be featured in an upcoming series on history education in the major Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, based in Tokyo with a daily circulation of about 8 million.

Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac was honoured to receive two Asahi Shimbun journalists at the CDRSEE's offices in Thessaloniki, Greece, earlier this month. The journalists interviewed Ms. Kovac and were given a set of our flagship Joint History Project workbooks as well as our teaching methodology manual, Teaching for Learning.

The journalists then went on to visit sites in the Balkans where the Joint History Project workbooks are in use and supported by the local Ministries of Education.

Interestingly, the Joint History Project workbooks have also been translated to Japanese by a university that was interested in the project.

The newspaper series, tentatively entitled "From the Classrooms of the World," is expected to be published in the near future.


TV Albania joins Okruzenje team, as TV Partners bring ideas to Thessaloniki

Feb. 5-6, Thessaloniki -- Albanian public broadcaster RTSH has joined the Okruzenje (Vicinities) project, committing to broadcast all of the regional current affairs talk shows, and came together with editors from all Okruzenje partner TV stations who gathered in Thessaloniki, Greece, for two days of meetings and collaboration.

The TV editors, from nine stations including the newly signed RTSH, discussed topics for the 4th season of current affairs talk shows and brought many ideas for expansion and improvement.  RTSH, "Albanian Radio and Television" in English, brought a director and cameraman to the meeting, as they are producing a 15-minute segment on Okruzenje, covering the programme as well as the gathering of editors from across the region.

Okruzenje, or Vicinities in English, is still the only regional current affairs talk show that brings together guests from different countries and backgrounds to discuss topics that impact daily life in the Balkans. The editors reviewed and critiqued the recently completed third season, the most successful so far, including roundtable discussions in Sarajevo and Belgrade. Building on the third season, they brought forth new ideas and recommendations for expanding both the topics and number of shows as well as the general visibility.

Okruzenje co-host and Executive Director of the CDRSEE, Zvezdana Kovac, hosted the meeting. She was joined by Hedvig Morvai, Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans, a partner of the Okruzenje project, and Nenad Sebek, Okruzenje co-host and Spokesperson for another project partner, the Regional Cooperation Council. 

All of the TV partners pledged their full commitment to the fourth season and to the show in general, expressing the positive feedback that they continue to receive from viewers and station management alike.

The editors especially pushed for additional roundtable discussions in the next season. In addition to the studio-based regular-season programmes, the CDRSEE will organize four roundtable discussions at different locations around the region, inviting the editors and locals to take part in the discussions and in a local event.

In addition, many TV partners have agreed to rebroadcast previous season shows, to add more coverage and visibility in the off season.

Season IV of Okruzenje is again supported by the EFB as well as the German Federal Foreign Office and the RCC.



HEC meets in Tirana to start production of new JHP workbooks

Jan. 30 - Feb. 1, 2015, Tirana, Albania -- The JHP's History Education Committee gathered in Tirana for a productive meeting to begin the process of creating two new JHP volumes for the CDRSEE's flagship project.

As part of the second phase of the Joint History Project, this was the first gathering of historians for the production of the new Joint History Project Volumes “post-1945” and “post-1989”. Under the guidance of Prof. Christina Koulouri, the series editor, and Costa Carras, from the CDRSE Board of Directors, editors and contributors to the project discussed the content list of the new books.

More than 20 people took part in the meeting, which was held at the Tirana International Hotel and Conference Center.

Important was to find a balanced presentation of historical source material from the whole of Southeast Europe that would be equally interesting and relevant to readers from all countries alike. The next meeting will take place in April, when a first selection of source material will already be available.