The 2022 European Summer School

From the 1st to the 4th of September, the annual European Summer School took place in Oer-Erkenschwick. 19 peer educators and five fellows met in the middle of beautiful nature at the Salvador-Allende Haus to network and to discuss about citizenship education. The Fellows introduced their newly developed workshops on social justice, which will now become part of the new Understanding Europe Toolbox.

Peer-to-Peer Education

On the first day of the Summer School, the participants reflected on the role of a peer educator in a team-setting and discussed what peer-to-peer education entails. Meanwhile, the experienced peer educators gave feedback to the Foundation team and afterwards shared their work experiences with the group. The participants found the ‘Red Line’ module and a discussion about difficult situations in the classroom particularly helpful to begin their journey as peer educators. Before a communal barbecue, the Fellows Lisa Glybchenko and Leonor Amaral presented their workshops on “Digital and Virtual Reality (VR) Peacebuilding” and “Breaking Down Disability: Removing Barriers”.

Othering and Climate Justice

On Friday, we had the pleasure of welcoming two special guests to the Summer School. The first guest was Katsiaryna Lozka, a PhD researcher from Ghent University. In a three-hour workshop, she worked with the group on how Central and Eastern Europe are constructed as different from a Western European perspective and what are the consequences of such ‘Othering’. The group engaged in discussions about the historical background of the imaginary of Eastern Europe, mental maps, cultural stereotypes and inequalities.

In the afternoon, we went to Recklinghausen for the keynote speech of the Summer School with the author, politician and climate activist Magid Magid. In the special atmosphere of the Umspannwerk/Museum Strom und Leben (an electricity museum), a presentation on climate justice and the fight against racist discrimination was followed by a lively discussion on how climate action can succeed on an individual and a political level. In numerous personal conversations at the subsequent dinner, Magid Magid encouraged the participants in their essential work as young educators.

Course topics and the digital toolbox

Starting from the EU-Crash-Course, the thematic focus of the network has expanded within the last few years. Since 2019, our Fellows have made a decisive contribution to this, developing materials on media, (digital) participation and social justice from diverse perspectives. A current challenge is now to make the material of the four focus topics available for use in our courses for students across Europe. A first important step is the introduction of the digital Understanding Europe Toolbox, which was presented to the network on Saturday. It allows trainers to tailor their courses to the needs and to the interests of the class. This year’s Fellows chaired group work on social justice – a theme that will be taken up again at the Transnational Training for Trainers (TT4T) in Bilbao this autumn.

Planning a Training for Trainers (T4T)

In autumn and winter, most Training for Trainers (T4Ts) take place in the 14 project countries. The peer educators are responsible for the programme at these two to three-day seminars. They used the last day of the Summer School to gain confidence for this task and to benefit from the individual experiences of other group members. In a trusting atmosphere, different training scenarios were played out and role assignments discussed. Full of energy to carry what they had learned into their respective teams, the peer educators made plans for the future. After four intensive days, many participants found it difficult to say goodbye to the group and the special Understanding Europe vibes.