Human Rights and Tolerance; Time Travel project in Serbia

In 2012 Kalmar County Museum started a partnership with the Serbian civil society organizations Fund B92 Media Company and C31-Centre for Developing Children’s Rights Culture. The aim is to develop innovative pedagogical approach in human rights education based on the use of history and the Time Travel method. Developed approach deals with sensitive issues of human rights and tolerance in an unstable post-conflict Serbian society, combining experiences of both Swedish and Serbian partners. During February 2013 the method was successfully piloted with a group of elementary school children and pedagogues in Fund B92’s Cultural centre REX in the 1930s Jewish charity building situated in the oldest part of Belgrade.

The program complements school curiculum in a multidisciplinary manner – using the Time Travel method followed by workshops, discussions, films etc. to provide better insight in the concept of tolerance and pluralism, encourage students for critical thinking, respect for “the others” and solidarity.
The project team decided to travel back to April 16th 1941, 10 days after Belgrade was heavily bombarded by Nazi Germany and on the day that German occupational forces announced that all Jews must register or they will be shot. The students “stepped into the shoes” of their neighbours – Jews, Serbs and Roma people – discussing who they should help first in the destroyed city, whether Jews should register or hide, if this German order will divide them. Issues that are connected with present day problems that burden the community.

In the evaluation many students clearly stated that this method is more likely to raise awareness on questions of discrimination and tolerance and foster respect for cultural diversity in the past and nowadays then traditional methods of common teaching in schools.

They also stated that preparatory and Time Travel workshops made them re-think concepts of tolerance, cultural diversity and social cohesion in relation to their everyday life, and that they would like to participate in more similar activities as they found them very important for further development of democracy.
This gives project team members, both from Sweden and Serbia, reasoning to further finetune the project and turn it into a regular program for school visits that will use Fund B92 building as a learning place – inspired by Kalmar läns museum concept of Historic Environment Education combined with other methods developed through Fund B92  and C31 educational projects.

Masa Avramovic, Maja Cecen