In mid-2017, we started cooperation with schools in Bujanovac, through the organisation of extracurricular activities for students and seminars for teachers. The first step in working with teachers was the seminar of professional development “We and the Others”, accredited for the competences of intercultural and interethnic cooperation, especially adapted to the cultural specifics of this community and intended for teachers of social and humanistic sciences and languages. From April to December, at the Faculty of Economics in Bujanovac, we held three such seminars for teachers from 2 high schools and 4 elementary schools.
The training included 2 days of lectures, after which the participants applied the acquired knowledge and skills in working with students, through research or experimental lessons. The emphasis was on the actuarial ways of presenting research, so that, after a few weeks, public presentations of research in schools or public spaces were organised.
At seminars, the theme of interculturalism was addressed through the prism of local social history and the history of everyday life, as well as through the discussion of stereotypes, imagology and attitude towards the “others”. The introductory lecture and workshops were about prejudice, positive and negative stereotypes, as well as how images about others were formed. Historian Sanja Petrović Todosijević spoke about the basic concepts and consequences of prejudices through history, and the workshop that shed light on stereotypes and prejudices in modern society was led by psychologist Vera Erac.
At the subsequent lectures, the topic of local social history and the history of everyday life was discussed. Sanja Petrović Todosijević talked about the importance of researching social history in multicultural communities, gave the theoretical framework and presented the research methodology. After that, artist Ivana Bogićević Leko presented possible, interesting and important topics, illustrated with examples of high school research in other multinational environments, conducted within previous Group 484 activities.
On the second day a discussion about family history started, through the workshop of Ivana Bogićević Leko “From the Family Albums”. At the workshop, old family photos became a reason for discussion about habits, customs, consequences of social changes on the everyday lives of people. The workshop suggested that old family photos and objects could be a relevant historical source – a source of information for research. In the continuation, Tamara Cvetković from the Group 484 Educational Program presented an example of family history of Bujanovac through photographs, subjects that could be explored based on photographs, as well as ways of examining family history in literature and visual arts. By the end of the day, participants in groups elaborated and presented a research plan that would be implemented with their students and presented in the following few weeks.
The teachers who participated in the seminar also attended the public presentation of the previous groups’ research, so that the participants of all three seminars had the opportunity to get informed about the work and research of their colleagues from other schools. Within a few months, fifteen local social history studies of Bujanovac were conducted and presented. The influence of social changes and the development of music trends on the ways the youth were dressed and entertained were examined on two occasions by “Sveti Sava” and “Sezai Surroi” high schools. “Sveti Sava” had a research called “Urbanization”, through which the architecture of Bujanovac and the surroundings and construction changes in the past hundred years were presented in a humorous way. Frequent topics were also the food habits and culture in different periods in history, where “Ali Bektasi”, “Naim Fraseri” and “Branko Radicević” elementary schools were particularly active. The research of “Branko Radičević” school dealt with the social and economic conditions that influenced what students ate in school, and the presentation had an activist character: the call for school canteen to be reopened and accessible to all students. “Vuk Karadžić” elementary school had a humorous and interesting research “Folk beliefs in our region”, in which students from higher classes collected data from different sources, interviewed and searched for the origin of beliefs in supernatural creatures, both the ones that brought happiness and misery, etc.; as well as the research and the experimental lesson on children’s games and toys with lower-grade students. The topics of the research were also: tradition and bridal, religious and other customs of various communities in Bujanovac, as well as research on important persons that influenced the development of the town.
70 teachers from two high schools and four elementary schools from the territory of the municipality of Bujanovac went through the training, as well as about 100 students who participated in research and presentations. We all enjoyed the process together and established fruitful cooperation, which will continue next year.
Project: Our town, our schools
Objective: contribution to the development of interculturalism, both in the school environment and in the everyday life of children and adults in Bujanovac.
Implementers: Group 484 (Educational program “We and the Others”) and the Coordination Body of the Government of the Republic of Serbia for the Municipalities of Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa
Support: Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation