Bricks made of Words: building Europe again through dialogue – final press realese

Grant decision number:625628

The project "Bricks made of Words: building Europe again through dialogue», co-financed by the Europe for Citizens program was successfully completed on April 30th 2023 with a direct participation of 570 European citizens.

The project selected 28 youngsters (18-24 years old) from 7 different EU Countries (Portugal, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Cyprus, Italy, Romania, Serbia) according to their orientation towards EU policies related to the selected themes (Euro skeptics and Euro supporters) and brought them together in 6 Events/mobilities held in Italy, Republic of Serbia, Romania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Cyprus and Belgium. During their travels, the selected group interreacted with local communities that were involved into each mobility.

All the participants were very Interested in sharing knowledge and perspectives about actual key themes relevant for their future, as well as for the European Unions’ future:
EU bodies | civic rights and duties
EU values (peace and tolerance)
Civil rights and media freedom
Migration and human rights
Youth policies

Starting from knowing EU history and values, EU bodies and their functioning, participants developed critical thinking on sensitive matters, debating and exchanging their thoughts with peers from other EU Countries using different innovative tools such as the Virtual Reality and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® techniques, for finally developing a document containing all their ideas and recommendation that has been presented in Brussels to EU parliamentarians during the last project event.


EVENT N° 1 Cavriglia, Italy “Memories of the Past for building the present”
THEME ADDRESSED WWII, Nazi-Fascism, civic participation
Dates: 20 to 23rd September 2022
Number of direct participants: 215

Bricks made its first stop in Cavriglia, at the MINEmuseum. The topics covered, pertaining to World War II and the massacres of the civilian population that occurred in the area, were the starting point for a reflection that the participants then developed in the hands-on workshop (VR Scenario).
On the next day and before starting the workshop, the young participants were introduced to the topics covered by the workshop, as agreed with the other European partners in the meetings held for the preparatory phase. It was necessary that before anything else the participants during their mobility received two images-in this case relating to the two sites of the Cavriglian massacres-without first receiving any information about what had happened at the site. We felt it was important to start precisely from "silent"documents to then build the dialogue.
This initial introduction was followed by a meeting with witnesses who told the participants what happened in the Cavriglian territory in July 1944. A first meeting at Meleto Valdarno visiting the sites of the massacres (the boys met Pio Secciani and Giampaolo Camici President and Vice President of the Meleto Wants to Remember
Association) and a second meeting at Castelnuovo dei Sabbioni, first in front of the war memorial and then at the MINE museum. Two significant moments for the young partcipants who were able to interact with witnesses of the time (then little more than children, Aldo Dini,the only survivor and eyewitness of the Castelnuovo dei Sabbioni massacre, and Emilio Polverini) who recounted what happened. The museum also briefly discussed the role that heritage, memory and memorials play in the narrative construction of a community.
In the afternoon, the theme was expanded with a historical reference to the Italiancontext, and specifically to Tuscany–held by Professor Mazzoni–then mentioning with historian and writer Filippo Boni also the dynamics related to the failed trials of the principals of the massacres that were not done. A condition that generated at first precisely the dynamics of divided memory. All this was to introduce participants to
issues from the past that are still being discussed today. Then an important debate followed in which participants dialogued with Professor precisely to address the points of view that made up the starting groups of the project: euroskeptics and pro-Europeans.
At this point the participants were provided with the materials to start working on building VR Scenarios during the laboratories. The VR methodology that was prepared during the prepatory phase thought sevral meetings led by ARCI, CUT and Nova Iskra.

Participants had about 3 hours to develop a project, one for each group. They had the option of choosing to build characters (identifying with the figure of the child, the woman, the witness…) or indicating in the scenario reconstruction their own point of view. We thus made 4 bases for a storytelling from which to build VR Scenario.

The participants had the chance to interact with local communities to exchange during a public debate, dinners and lunches hosted by the Circoli/clubs of ARCI Vadlarno and Cavriglia Municipality.

On the final day of the experience, we considered it essential to dedicate a few hours to final reflections on the most important issues among those addressed. To do this we have chosen to use the World Café method, a simple and effective activity in giving life to informal, lively and constructive conversations, on issues and themes that affect the life of an organization or that are of collective interest within. of a community.
The participants dealt with the theme of the construction and defense of a European memory. The value of a European memory is an essential element if you want to look at the future and imagine a change, and to defend it, it is necessary to promote events that commemorate the salient facts of European history, to organize study trips and to sensitize the younger generations to the values ​​that distinguish the European culture and European history, also through the testimonies of illustrious witnesses.
To build a path of education for European citizenship, boys and girls support, it is necessary to invest in study and educational trips, defend common values, promote synergies between local institutions and associations, build links between specific differences. Europe needs to stand up in defense of its civil rights and its freedom of expression and has the duty to fight for the recognition of human rights in the world and for the reduction of educational poverty which is a brake on the development of critical thinking. The participants agree that European citizenship means unity of values ​​and objectives, as well as overcoming all those cultural and economic barriers that prevent some nations from feeling European on the same level as the founding member states.

EVENT N° 2 Belgrade "On the roads of recent past – towards new future"
THEME ADDRESSED Civil Rights and media freedom
Dates: 11-14 October 2022

Number of direct participants: 78

The main aim was to enlarge participants knowledge about European history and how debates and media freedom can foster peace and healthy democratic process. Focus of the Belgrade event was on the potential of culture and creative processes in addressing burning issues of our societies.
During the event participants were learning about VR as a creative tool for sparking and developing debates and tackling societal issues using speculative design as a method. Whole experience of learning by developing VR scenarios during the workshops was based on history and cultural heritage presented during the visit to Museum of Yugoslavia and debates that participants were engaged in during this visit. They were able to discuss with the museum curators about mechanisms how cultural heritage influences our daily lives, how interpretation of recent history depends on current politics and how can artists help in interpretation on the topics of dissonant heritage. During the VR workshops participants produced 4 VR scenarios based on topics raised during the visit to Museum of Yugoslavia. These scenarios were based on concepts such as media freedom, freedom of expression, civil rights.
By visiting Centre for Youth Integration participants had opportunity to learn more about their social enterprise “Café bar 16, an inclusive project which improves the position of children at risk.
One of the acitivites during the event was a public debate named Passive observer or an active participant? organized in collaboration with the Faculty for Media and Communication, Belgrade. Participants were engaged debating on the topics of media literacy, independent journalism, fake news, how to young people learn about EU from media.

EVENT N° 3 Arad, Romania “Simulation of the EU Parliament / EU Council”
THEME ADDRESSED Functioning of EU bodies
Dates: 15-18 November 2022

Number of direct participants: 82

During the event in Arad, we involved directly a number of 82 young participants out of which 24 were international participants involved in all other mobilities during this project. During the mobility in Romania we organized activities connected to the functioning of the EU institutions, simulation games of the EU Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
Both days were connected to the topic of the EU, by involving participants directly in the decision-making process for them to better understand how individuals play a role in it.
The aim of the activities was to familiarize the participants with how the EU Parliament and the Council of the European Union work and take decisions or discuss and change laws and directives. This was achieved through the two simulation games organised with the participants and the following activities such as EU&Me Quizz and explanations all facilitated by two of our colleagues from Ofensiva Tinerilor team with experience in managing EU simulation games with young people.
Participants were generally very involved, and interested in the activities, they say they now understand better how these institutions function and they needed such activities in order to be able to understand the decisional process at the EU level.
The local participants were coming from different high schools in Arad, most of them being in their last year of studies and would like to be involved in such activities in order for them to help them to make a better decision for their future studies.

EVENT N° 4 Sarajevo “We are all humans”
THEME ADDRESSED Migration and human rights
Dates: 09/01/2023 to 12/01/2023

Number of direct participants: 58

During Sarajevo mobility, on the first day the participants had a chance to explore Sarajevo's most important historical and cultural sights, with BRAVO members.
After ice-breakers and introduction sessions (considering that the event hosted nearly 60 participants including local and international), participants worked on developing critical and creative thinking in group workshops aiming to develop their soft and transversal skills, based on NFE methodologies. Main purpose of the activities was to encourage participants to think out of box while questioning social narratives and working on crucial topics and tackling social issues such as identity, gender, gender-based violence, religious and cultural background, war, peace, reconciliation, deconstructing the conflict and conflict management and conflict transformation. One of the most important aspects was individual work on the same topics.

The Third day of the event was reserved dedicated to LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology.
The participants at the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop were divided into 3 groups for the training activities. All the groups were composed of people coming from different countries to make it easier for participants to get to know each other and to facilitate the integration.
Almost all the participants demonstrated interest in the activities and curiosity for the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology, which they got familiar and confident with quite fast and easily. This methodology helped them express their feelings and ideas and share them with the rest of the group. They themselves where surprised at how well LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® helped them convey their own concepts and suggestions.
During the last challenge included in the program, the one focused on teamwork, they demonstrated a good ability of communicating, collaborating and taking decisions together.
In the course of the entire activity, they managed to integrate well, overcoming any national, cultural, religious differences at the same time maintaining their sense of belonging to their specific countries.

EVENT N° 5 Limassol, “Youth for the future”
THEME ADDRESSED EU Youth policies / Structured dialogue (SD) on project themes
Dates: 20-23 February 2023

Number of direct participants: 84

The mobility in Cyprus revolved around EU youth policies and migrant rights. The activities included a presentation on "Structured Dialogue", learning what EU youth policies are and the drafting of such policies, a presentation on the importance of migration and human rights and a tour of Limassol. The main results achieved were the better understanding of what EU youth policies are, how they affect people in Europe and also of the impact of migration and human rights.

Activities: During the beginning of the mobility in Cyprus, a discussion of testimonies and some conclusions about the previous mobilities took place, regarding the outcomes and what was achieved until then. Mr. Harry Charalambous took the initiative to present the impact of structure dialogue and explain the meaning of it. The participants divided into two teams in order to discuss and write down as drafts, their policies and ideas. After the focus groups completed their assignment, one participant from each group was in charge to present the separate youth policy drafts. Participants took a trip to Limassol Old City Center, touring also the different building of the Cyprus University of Technology, interacting and meeting students, professors and staff of the University main buildings. A presentation and an open discussion held up by the two participants who presented the draft youth policies earlier about the implementation process and structure dialogue and debate. Participants worked on their ‘let’s make a statement’ draft regarding the debate which took place before.
A session of presentations and discussions took place the last day of the mobility event in Limassol – Cyprus. Corine Demetriou and Professor Nikos Trimikliniotis talked to the participants about the importance of structured dialogue in immigration and in human rights.

EVENT N°6, Bruxelles “Our voice for the future”
THEME ADDRESSED Presentation and discussion of recommendation paper to the EU institutions
Dates: 27 to 29 March 2023.

Number of direct participants: 53
The mobility of BRICKS in Brussels had an overall objective which was to present the recommendations proposed by young people in four themes to be incorporated as initiatives of the European Parliament.
In order for the young proposals to provide effective recommendations, the functioning of the European institutions needed to be thoroughly understood, for which a series of visits were planned to improve knowledge of the role and importance of the European institutions.
Thanks to these three visits to the House of History of Europe, the Parlamentarium and the European Parliament, the young participants were aware that some of the proposals that emerged in the previous mobilities had to be discarded, since they were not competences of the European Union but of the Member States; they had to be reformulated, in order to comply with European philosophy; and others had to be withdrawn, because they were already real initiatives underway. This work adapting the recommendations was carried out through a workshop.
Finally, an event was held within the European Parliament, where two Members of the European Parliament knew the details of the experience that young Eurosceptics and Euro supporters had in the previous mobilities, they knew the recommendations agreed on the four themes identified: EU Bodies/Civil Rights; EU values — Peace and tolerance; Youth policies; and Migration and human rights. After each presentation, there was a debate between young people and Members of the European Parliament to explore how young people’s proposals could be incorporated into the parliamentary initiatives of the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee and there was a commitment by MEP Javier Moreno to take some of them into consideration.
In short, the young participants were aware of the importance of knowing the functioning of the institutions in order to make effective proposals and the difficulty that politics has in establishing agreements between different ideologies and political interests. In addition, they found that many of the criticisms they had of the European project and its functioning were due to the fact that there were political movements that supported them and that democracy enabled progress in the construction of Europe and also hindered its development.

The project “Bricks Made of Words: building Europe again through dialogue” is co-founded by the Europe for Citizens Program, and implemented by: Arci Valdarno | Cavriglia Municipality | Ofensiva | NOVA ISKRA |BRAVO BIH | CONEXX-EU | ARCSS | AGENFAP | CUT .For any additional information you can contact the project leader, Arci Valdarno, to the following address:
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