How do I experience myself in Europe?

Youth in Action: Action 1 - Youth in Europe/
                                          1.3. - youth democracy projects
Outlined by the motto „How do I experience myself in Europe?“ young adults of the age 18 to 25 years from Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany get together in the European Youth in Action programme which is aided by the European Union. Overall there will be four meetings from October 2009 until April 2011. The youth democracy projects of the EU aim to enlarge the active participation of young adults in democratically systems.
The the project of solaris FZU gGmbH Sachsen “How do I experience myself in Europe” is adapting those interests by two main goals. The focus on the meetings is the topic of participatory democracy and how young people can participate in the EU.  In the final stages there will be a theatre play created by the participants.
Due to the formation of the theatre play and the dialog about the different political systems of each country the young adults will get actively involved in participatory democracy.

Kick off Meeting in Chemnitz, Germany (11.10-23.10.2009)
The first meeting of the project in October 2009 was held in Chemnitz and Plauen. The young adults were hosted by the association of „Kontakte in Europa e.V. through co operational relationships.
The kick off meeting was used to give the young adults an impression of each participating country. Each country was shown a presentation about their homeland, the culture and the democratic system.
A game about the EU helped the youth to test their knowledge in an easy competition. Afterwards they heard about the possibilities for young people within the programme Youth in Action.
After all the information it was time to get started with the theatre work. A first brainstorming helped on the consideration what kind of theatre play is possible. Shall we do a musical or a pantomime play instead? A long discussion was hold. In connection with the brainstorming the participants went to the theatre in Plauen “Behind the scene”. After the illuminating visit and loaded with new ideas the group started a theatre workshop.
The participants took part in a lecture about the German constitution as well as a visit to the Saxon parliament for a basic orientation of the political system in Germany. The following discussion was filed with comparisons between the homelands. Finally the visit to the archive of the former bequest of the former “Stasi” records provided an insight into the history of the GDR.
During the meeting the group used the national evenings to present their homeland and typical food and music. Everybody enjoyed the characteristically dishes of each country.

Meeting in Kunfeherto, Hungary (17.05-30.05.2010)
Finally in May the second meeting was expected. After a warm welcome of the partner organisation HEEDA the group started right off into the topic of the political system in Hungary. During the visit the situation of two minority groups in Hungary was of particular importance.
A member of the national parliament was talking about the position and prestige of the Roma minority in Hungary. Being the president of the local self government of Roma in Kiskunhalas he was reporting realistically. How is this population group appreciated in the community? Are they seen as Roma, Hungarians or Europeans? A second visitor was talking about the situation of handicapped people in Hungary, a marginal group in the community as well. The two speakers and the following discussion in plenum helped the young adults to exchange their opinions.
In two excursions the participants gained insight of the culture in Hungary. The visit of the memorial park of Opuszatszer gave an insight of the history of the country. A panorama picture with a height of 15m, a120m length and a diameter of 38m showed the conquest in the 11th century. With the trip to Budapest and the visit to the parliament building the young adults experience a big European metropolis.
The work for the theatre play was characterised by enjoying the own creativity. By testing different masks the group decided to expose masks into the play. Furthermore the participants were working on the script with great expanse.

Meeting in Jelenia Gora, Poland (21.11.-28.11.2010)
The third meeting in Poland was used for an intensive work for the theatre play. The group eagerly build on the scenery. Plaster masks for each participant were made. Some brave youths were building the plaster masks from their own face print even though it costs some of them quite an effort to have the plaster on the face. The creation of papier mache mask was preferred by everybody.
The partner organisation in Poland was organising a conference in Liberec with the help of the University Ekonomiczny in Wroclaw. In different presentations, discussions and statements the young adults recessed “the impact of the economic crisis on the Czech and polish part of the euroregion Neisse with the focus on the labour market”. The conference related directly on the personal environment of the participants therefore the discussions about the topic were making a lasting impression on them.
The students of the University Ekonomiczny in Jelenia Gora gave us a warm welcome. The group was exploring the city with the help of students of the tourisms management faculty.
The last day in Jelenia Gora was used for a guided tour thru the district Cieplice. The guide gave a colourful impression of the significance of the faith in Poland now and then. His experience with former displaced people – who he was guiding thru their old homeland - gave an insight of the special history of Silesia.
By this the third meeting was again filled new impressions and experiences.
All participants said goodbye until February 2011. The last meeting will be hold in Chemnitz again. In the art factory of the solaris FZU gGmbH Sachsen the premiere of the theatre play will be realised.

Final Meeting in Chemnitz, Germany (06.03-12.03.2011)
The fourth and final meeting of the project was realised in Chemnitz again. The highlight of the meeting was the debut performance of the theatre play in the end of the week. But before we got to that point there was lots of work to do. The group decided on the method of the shadow theatre. Therefore the required props needed to be built. The participants decided on showing advertising spots about their home country in the theatre play. The short stories were funny presented which made the audience laughing loudly.
Besides the theatre work there was a program with different activities. At the beginning Frank Heinrich – member of the German parliament – talked about his work and the political system in Germany. To get a better idea of the work of the institutions of the European Union the group realized a political business game. The participants had to protect the civil population (in form of an egg) of a fictitious state. Creative ideas and the communication skills of the group were needed.
Like at the kick off meeting in 2009 the participants got an insight view of the history of the former GDR while visiting the memorial place of the closed juvenile detention place in Torgau. Afterwards the trip to Leipzig – the city of the “peaceful revolution” – completed the historical tour.
After the successful theatre play on Friday the group went to a Bowling centre and reviewed the experienced of the last week.

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