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Activities with students of Camillo Cavour Technical Gymnasium in Rome during the project "Balkan Kaleidoscope"

Direct participants / protagonists in the Balkan Kaleidoscope project are the students of the fourth grade of the Technical Gymnasium "Liceo Camillo Cavour" in Rome.

The project was attended by 32 pupils from three different grades: IV D, IV G and IV H.

Activity coordinators are:

- Alessandra Carlini, professor of Camillo Cavour Technical Gymnasium;

- Giuliana Cresce, project manager for Spes

- Fatima Neimarlija and Maria Enrica Braga, tutor of Spes.

Processed topics:

- Yugoslavia before the beginning of the 1990-1995 war: the reconstruction of the state through geographical and political maps;

- Josip Broz Tito;

- Economic, political, national, and religious structure of Yugoslavia;

- Proclamation of independence and war in Slovenia, "Ten Day War";

- Proclamation of independence and war in Croatia (Knin, Vukovar, Dubrovnik, Zadar, ...);

- Proclamation of independence and war in Bosnia and Herzegovina: siege of Sarajevo and other cities such as: Visegrad, Prijedor, Mostar and Srebrenica;

- Declaration of independence and war in Kosovo;

- NATO intervention; bombardment of Belgrade; civilians, victims of bombing;

- War refugees: Croatia, Serbia (Serbian Krajina) Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo.


The topics above were presented so as to providing the grounds for their own research and information collection process and as the grounds for further individual in-depth approaches to the selected topics. The main format applied was and interactive workshop structured as the trainer’s introductory presentation followed by the debate, questions&answers that took place in the classroom.

During the process of classroom work, the multiperspectivity principle was applied in different methods:

  • Introduction to the topic to be discussed and better understood by the students / showing the videos (archives footage and films),

  • Reading and analyzing articles from newspapers, questions and answers by the students launching a specific topic and inviting discussion.

  • Personal narrative and testimonies: meetings and interviews with the witnesses whose direct testimonies made the biggest impact on students,

  • After the "testimony" in the classroom, there would be silence, and then the students posed countless questions and subtlety.

Upon the completion of the introductory cycle in the classroom, the most burning five topics were selected by the students, which are:

- The role of women in war;

- Getaway, emigration and integration in the new countries of residence;

- Multireligious coexistence;

- War testimonies

- Public discourse and the role of media in increasing the ethnically motivated hate speech

Each student had the opportunity to choose the topic that he was most interested in and five groups of 6 students each were created. Each student reaserch group appointed a group leader.

The task of the group members was to independently research and collect information on the chosen topic. To achieve this, students used all sources of information: video, articles published in newspapers from that period, books, historical records, snapshots of daily news in the period 90-95, and other official or alternative sources.

After the survey was completed, each group formulated a questionnaire on the argument it was studying, and the questionnaire, at one time, used to interview four persons of different religious background originating from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo*, living in Rome.

The persons who agreed to be interviewed by the students are:

- Nada Jovićević, born in Sarajevo, where she escaped with her mother and sister in 1992, was born and raised in a religiously mixed family;

- Ado Hasanovic originated from Srebrenica, studied film direction in Rome, he is currently filming several short films and lives between Sarajevo and Rome;

- Majo Ivkovic, originally from Sarajevo, from which he escaped with his Orthodox girlfriend in 1992, was born and raised in a Catholic-Muslim family;

- Agim Saiti, a political asylum seeker from Kosovo, a former primary school teacher and a local radio director in the Roma language in the town of Peja.

For conducting and formulating questionnaires the students had 3 weeks of individual research work at their disposal. During an independent three-week study with students, we met each other for several times for consultation and feedback.

After defining the final version of the questionnaire, the Spes tutors, in cooperation with the Citizens Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Rome, "Bosnia in the Heart", contacted the above mentioned persons and schedule interviews.

The places of the interview were at Spes headquarters, but also in the workplace of the interviewed students who "took them out of school" and led to organize and come to the place scheduled for the interview.

It is important to note that this methodology and history teaching approach which was introduced at the very beginning of our meetings and presented to the students as the guiding principle for their individual work has prompted a remarkable interest among them and resulted in a positive interaction and group dynamic.

Learning and research process they participated in have encouraged their intensified cooperation in exchange of opinions and enhanced the communication among students; The research work they conducted, interviews they made, articles and analyses they have read strengthened their feeling of empathy and a more profound understanding of the situation in the neighbouring conflict zone that took place in the recent past. Their self-confidence was improved and presentation skills developed giving them also a sense of freedom throughout entire learning process. The use of different sources of information and learning materials (written, internet, documentary films, personal narratives, interviews with the witnesses) combined with “field work”, going to places "out of school" for meeting the people who actually lived through the war conflicts in the Balkans, was proven an efficient learning methodology and additional inspiration for the students to continue to explore the very same topic, but also some other historic events.

After the interviews the students made short videos as an illustration of the topic.