CDRSEE wraps up Uniting Differences teacher training workshops

23-24 January 2015 -- The CDRSEE organized and carried out the third and final training of teachers event of the Uniting Differences project, as it wraps up its pilot project to provide teachers with tools to help keep Roma pre-school children in Croatian public schools.

The training workshop was held in Međimurje County on Jan. 23 and 24, 2015. The 18 pro-school teachers who attended were given the opportunity to learn new methodologies for teaching in diverse classrooms, and were given tools to build trust and improve communication and understanding with the parents of the Roma children.

The event held in Sveti Martin na Muri was the final training workshop. Now, project organizers will turn to evaluation. They will look at the impact of the project, gathering insight from local organizers, teacher associations and the teachers themselves. Equally important will be the feedback that will be collected by the Roma pupils and their parents.

The impressions and outcome will be published after an assessment roundtable is held in Croatia.


CDRSEE kicks off new year with Uniting Differences Teacher Training event

9-10 January 2015 -- The CDRSEE opened the new year with a teacher training workshop in Sveti Martin, Međimurje County, Croatia, as part of a project to help integrate Roma children in Croatian schools.

As part of the Center's Uniting Differences project, 19 pre-school teachers took the opportunity to learn new methodologies for facilitating early learning in diverse classrooms, in particular where Croatian children learn side by side with their peers from the Roma community.

The workshop touched upon cultural awareness skills and trust-building with parents, and also elaborated on the specific challenges that language barriers pose.

Participants engaged in a role-playing game to help get a feel of how actions of the majority population feel from a minority point of view. Teachers also practiced children's games that contribute to establishing classrooms where all children feel welcome.

The teacher training session was the second in the project that is designed to provide teachers with tools to help keep Roma pre-school children from dropping out of Croatian public schools.


A Non-National Way of Looking at History Should be the Normal Way of Looking at History

16-18 December 2014 – CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac took part in an important international conference in Berlin on European Commemoration, sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office, which focused on remembrance in societies.

The commemoratory conference recognized the Centenary of the First World War, and through that considered three central questions – the significance and aims of remembrance in societies, the major dividing lines in European memories, and strategies to support a joint dialogue on remembrance and European identity.

The overall theme was well expressed by Dr. Gunnar Dedio, producer of the documentary drama “14 – Diaries of the Great War”, a multinational production using pictorial material from 21 countries, presented via diaries and personal accounts from many individual perspectives. Dr. Dedio called for an effort to make a non-national way of looking at history the normal way of looking at history.

Prominent university history professors and representatives of many civil society organisations took part. The opening speech was given by Prof. Alan Kramer of Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland. Ambassador Andreas Meitzner, Germany’s Special Representative for the Events Commemorating the Start of World War I, and Ronald Grätz, Secretary General of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (IFA), also spoke to participants.

The participants, including the CDRSEE, played a major role in the impact of the conference. As the German Federal Foreign Office said in its justification of the project, the particular background and experience of each participant indeed helped shape the understanding of the multitude of perspectives on the memory of the European war. The conference was a testament to the importance of taking an interdisciplinary approach to history, culture and politics.  


Uniting Differences: Teacher Training event

Dec. 12-13, 2014 Uniting Differences, the CDRSEE’s programme to help keep Roma children from dropping out of the mainstream Croatian school system, held its first Teacher Training Event in Medjimurje County, Croatia.

The workshop sparked much discussion about what can be done to help integrate children in schools. The Uniting Differences programme is a pilot project which targets pre-school children in paricular, as a smooth integration into the school system can help children remain in the education system for years to come. In Croatia, only an estimated 10 percent of Roma children complete primary school.

The Uniting Differences project is founded in a teaching methodology book as well as training events to help teachers model methods that will work in their own classrooms.

Two more teacher training sessions are scheduled for January 2015.




JHP II Teacher Training Seminar in Vukovar, Croatia

Dec. 5-7, Vukovar, Croatia - The CDRSEE held a successful and productive weekend teacher training seminar, attended by 27 teachers, which also served to tap teachers’ experience and ideas as the Joint History Project embarks on its next phase and the publication of two new books.

In the Teacher Training Workshop, Prof. Bozo Repe from the JHP editorial team presented the ideas behind the new volumes. Then, the moderator team, composed of Prof. Repe, Dr. Snjezana Koren and Mr. Kresimir Erdelja, all of the JHP’s History Education Committee, ran workshops during which teachers compared how the periods of the "Cold War" and the "Post-1989" eras are told in schools in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia.

On the second day of the seminar, participants visited the Vukovar Hospital Museum and the Ovčara Memorial Centre and Memorial Cemetery. It was a weekend of intense discussion, which touched upon a difficult past that is still very fresh in the memories.

The seminar was the first of a three-part series planned to take place simultaneously with the production of the two new JHP volumes. This allows JHP developers to meet with teachers during the key production phase of the new books, facilitating the inclusion of teachers’ insights and perspective in the development process, while continuing with the training seminars that have been so successful in the first phase of JHP.

The CDRSEE just last month received European Union funding for the JHP to create and publish the new books, covering the Cold War and the period of transition in Southeast Europe, for the multi-perspective history teaching programme. The grant also includes funding to continue building the teacher trainers’ capacities for new trends in transnational history research through seminars such as this one.


Uniting Differences: 2nd Training of Trainers

Nov. 21-22, Medjimurje County, Croatia -- The Uniting Differences programme successfully held its second Training of Trainers workshop, as part of the project to help integrate Roma children into the Croatian public schools. 

The workshop was held in the border town of Sveti Martin na Muri, in Medjumurije County, just 10km from Slovenia and 15km from Hungary . A total of 16 teachers took part, all from from the County of Medjumurije but with different broadly different experience and background.  Teachers with 20 years in the classroom exchanged ideas and insights with teachers with just months of experience, and the dialogue was seen as productive.

Ms. Zsuzsanna Szabo from Hungary and Prof. Hristo Kyuchukov from Bulgaria were the experts on site guiding the workshop. Prof. Lorin Anderson, the American professor who edited the book that serves as the foundation of the programme, held a videoconference with the participants.

The teaching methodology manual gave the structure to the workshop and was disseminated to participant. Four specific activities were carried out during the workshop.

The Uniting Differences programme is aimed specifically at giving teachers tools and strategies to help keep Roma pre-school children in mainstream Croatian schools.


CDRSEE fields panel on World War 1 history education at Univ. of Graz

Nov. 22, Graz, Austria -- The CDRSEE organised a history education panel on "Teaching World War I", as part of the University of Graz's Centre for Southeast European Study's conference on Histories of 1914, Debates and Use of the Origins of World War One in Southeastern Europe.

The panel included members of the CDRSEE's History Education Committee, and was moderated by CDRSEE Programmes Director Corinna Noack-Aetopulos. The panel was informative and well received, and various social websites brought up the conclusions of the discussion.

One interesting conclusion of the overall conference was that the time fame of WW1 remembrance, from 1914 to 1918, does not apply equally to all countries. In Southeast Europe in particular, conflicts right before and immediately after these dates are more relevant in public memory.

The representatives who took part in the discussion were:

  • Halil Berktay (Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey), Progressive Politics, Retrogressive Textbooks: A Turkish Paradox;

  • Vassiliki Sakka (University of Peloponnese, Greece), "WWI through a Greek Perspective: Echoes from the trauma of "National Division";

  • Snjezana Koren (University of Zagreb, Croatia), The First World War in Croatian and Serbian Textbooks since 1918;

  • BozoRepe (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), First World War in the Slovene Consciousness and in the Teaching of History.



Board of Directors convenes in Thessaloniki for 22nd Meeting

The Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe Board of Directors gathered in Thessaloniki this weekend, celebrating the successes of 2014 and mapping out the future as the CDRSEE embarks on new projects and expands its flagship programs.

Nearly all board members were in attendance, including founding members Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Mr. Nikos Efthymiadis and Mr. Costa Carras. Dr. Erhard Busek, Chairman of the Board, led the meeting with the support of Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac.

The board officially convened on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014, and successfully carried out all necessary official business. Members focused on the new phase of the Joint History Project, which will culminate in the publication of two more multi-perspective history books, covering the Cold War and the period of transition in Southeast Europe, including the Wars of the 1990s. The board also supported the continued expansion of Okruzenje, or Vicinities in English, the current affairs TV talk show, in the region and beyond. The board was pleased with the success of the other CDRSEE’s projects: Teaching for Learning, Uniting Differences, Hands on the Balkans and the Thessaloniki Open 2104 -- European Debating Tournament. The Board fully supports the creation of other similar projects, as they target youth and are based on the fundamentals of democracy.

The meeting wrapped up with a visit by the Serbian news agency Tanjug, which carried a story on the CDRSEE projects and mission. The first story and interviews can be found here:

Interviews with our first chairman, Mr. Matthew Nimetz, and our current chairman, Dr. Erhard Busek, as well as with other board and staff members, will be posted by Tanjug in the near future.