Danube- Networkers Day in Jamena / Serbia, and Vukovar / Croatia
Carmen Stadelhofer, DANET Chairwoman and Mirjana Klapprodt, DANET Project manager, Ulm, Germany
Jamena is a small Serbian village near the river Sava and the Bosnian and Croatian border. The proposal to organise a Danube-Networkers-Day in Jamena together with the primary School OŠ “Filip Višnjić” was created in the framework of a visit of the Danube-Networkers-Delegation from Ulm in October 2014 in Jamena. The whole village was hit by flood in March 2014. The guests from Ulm brought a donation of 3.000 Euro to the primary school to help them to refurnish some school classes and to buy new school materials . This support was possible through donations collected on the base of the woolen “Danube-pieces” made in frame of the project “The wanted Danube
The first contact with the school team of OŠ “Filip Višnjić was very nice but very swift. It was clear that “Europe” and “Danubians” from other countries are “far away” in the every day life of this region. So, the meeting inspired both guests and teachers to organise a common inter-generational and intercultural Danube Networkers Day in Jamena on 29th of April 2015 with invitation of schools and other guests from the region as well as from the cross-border villages.
The school OŠ “Filip Višnjić decided to take the annual school festivity as a base for the Danube Networkers Day focusing on the theme “Danube” and life and culture of different ethnicities along the Danube. 8 schools (pupils as well as teachers) from the region participated with several classes; around 250 visitors came to celebrate together with a delegation from Ulm and Danube Networkers partners from Backa Palanka and Vukovar. The guests were welcomed with bread and salt, an old Serbian tradition. After warm welcoming words from the school teams, the guests were invited to enjoy the cultural programme at the “Dom Kulture” (House of culture, Jamena). The programme was focused on “Danube” and prepared by pupils from schools from and around Jamena, minority groups (Slovakia) and cultural associations from Jamena, Visnjicevo, Erdevik, Sid and Backa Palanka. They presented their culture, tradition, talent and skills in all their finery. It was very interesting to see how different cultural heritage can harmonise with each other. There is one thing that connects all these subjects – the Danube. Pupils were invited in school lessons to express their idea about the Danube in songs or short stories. The best of them received an award, which was a book and diploma, presented by the school director. However, this was not the only activity connected to the Danube as the school team established some more. Because the whole Danube region is well known by a good gastronomy they prepared with support of the women association from Jamena, some delicacies to present every country on the gastronomy menu. So the guests started with tasty whole grain bread in Germany and traveled to the Black sea enjoying Kolbas, Zwetschgenknödel, Pita and some other delicious pieces with or without name. But Jamena´s pupils wanted to show that they know much more about the Danube region thus they created posters for each country pointing out main geographic, demographic and historical facts. The message delivered was – Yes, we like to deal with this topic and we are interested in it.
Very inspiring but also challenging was a game initiated by the group from Germany for the younger pupils. At first they put out the Danube made out of blue fabric, then they built paper boats with national flags, wrote names and the best wishes on it and put them on the Danube.
German guest invited pupils to simulate a concert together with a Swabian song. The children imitated the instruments as shown by adults and at the end managed even to repeat some words.
It has shown again that very simple methods combined with motivation can break every thinkable barrier, be that age, language, nationality, experience, education etc.
A part of activities in Jamena was a handing over of the check in the amount of 650 EUR from the Adalbert-Stifter Gesamtschule Ulm, collected by their pupils and teachers at the Christmas Market. A school team expressed its great gratitude for this support and decided to buy other missing school materials for teaching purposes and a TV for school events.
In the last round the Danube Networkers from Germany, the school team and the pupils planted a Danube Networkers tree in the school courtyard together. This was not only a symbol of the collaboration and partnership belonging to this special day, but also a sign for friendship and interest to learn from and about each other, also in the future.
The German delegation came to Jamena with a group of 11 representatives of different civil society organizations from Backa Palanka, a small Serbian municipality on the Danube that they visited on the day before, 28/04/2015. Backa Palnka was also participating in the project the Wanted Danube. The guests from Germany got the opportunity to learn more about this small city, its population and every day live. Moreover, the Youth Club from Backa Palanka created a game “Treasure hunt” that enabled the guest to talk to local people and learn more about some concrete points of the life of youth and elderly. The Youth Club from Jamena initiated the idea to plant a tree and the Danube Networkers continued in Jamena and Vukovar with. They also decided to continue with this nice initiative in the future.
From Jamena the delegation together with the representatives from European House went to Vukovar where different groups who participated in the Wanted Danube were waiting for them. At a delicious Goulash made by members of the Hungarian Association in Vukovar the Danube Networkers got the opportunity to hear more about their live and Association in general. Furthermore they spoke with a young representative of the City council and learned more about the current political and social situation of citizens in Vukovar as well as about the relationship between Serbs and Croats. The ICT course participants voted for „The Wanted Danube“ in frame of reward „ Europa–Lilie“. A group of artist presented their work with the topic “Vukovar – my city”. Another group, people with disabilities, was delighted to talk to the guests as they also crocheted a friendship strip for The Wanted Danube. The group with participants from the English course arranged a mail exchange in English with The Wanted Danube participants from Germany. Another group, the Austrian Association in Vukovar invited to a common evening with nice German songs. At the end the guests and other participants lighted air balloons illumined by candle lights on the occasion of an European festival that was just finishing. This was a symbolic sign for the community along the Danube that is getting bigger and stronger. The agenda for the guests was so narrow that they didn´t have any time to join the hosts who planted a tree as a farewell greetings for the guests. The German guests left the visible signs for connectivity of the Danube Networkers from Ulm with their partners at all places. They shared book readers with names of the Danube countries on them, as well as their flags and some main information about The Wanted Danube. They also made presents of key rings made of friendship strips to every participants as a symbolic “Key for common Europe”. The implementation of these inter-generational and intercultural encounters was possible through support of the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung.