It all started from an on-line debate, and now it is about to become an AEGEE-Europe project. Last December, the Culture Working Group (CWG) set up a Skype debate about History textbooks and how they are influenced by nationalisms in Europe. EurStory is a newborn in AEGEE, but it’s ready to rock the Network and to make ‘History’!
We cannot deny that nationalism in textbooks leads to lots of contradictions on the ways the subject is taught in many countries. Kristóf Papp, president of AEGEE-Budapest, saw a brilliant opportunity in the past debate held by the Culture Working Group about Textbooks & Nationalism and decided to take the lead on making a project about European History textbooks come true. This is how EurStory was born.
“I felt this project was perfectly describing me”. Kristóf grew up in a small city close to the Croatian border, which has a great Ottoman influence. Besides, during several AEGEE events, “I met the different aspects of the interpretation of History in the Central-European region”. All these facts, combined with his passion for History, pushed him to take up the challenge of leading such an ambitious project.
But what is exactly EurStory about? “We want to show Europe that there is a History we are all part of, and that we all have different points of view”, Kristóf explains. There is still a big amount of sensitive topics in European history. EurStory aims to observe and gather the different points of view on relevant historical facts from high school textbooks, and to highlight both their similarities and differences.
The Project Team of EurStory gathered for the first time last May in Brussels, and agreed in their objectives and outline for the project. According to Kristóf, “in order to present all the information, we want to publish comparisons and debates, interesting facts reachable for students as an additional source, and a website with a timeline”. The second part of the project aims to lobby for changes in school textbooks, and to “free them of nationalistic approach”.
The project is still in the planning and recruitment part, but there are some other challenging goals ahead: “we are planning to have a Training Course where we can teach people how to represent the different aspects of History”, Kristóf says. And then comes the cherry to the cake: the Project Team of EurStory plans to visit high schools and give workshops all over Europe, in a similar way like the YOUrope needs YOU! project did in its time.
Positive feedback from the Network and externals
Even though EurStory has just started walking, it has already found a strong support throughout the Network. So far, it has supporters and team members from almost every region in Europe, thanks to its presence in several European events such as the Spring Agora Rhein-Neckar or some Summer Universities. Kristóf admits that the whole project has been changing since the beginning, because of the feedbacks received: “I think I can say that people is excited about the project and everybody has been trying to help us with their opinions and comments”.
Marta Astorgano, member of AEGEE-Barcelona and History student, led a workshop in the TSU between AEGEE-Barcelona and AEGEE-Las Palmas. Looking back at the workshop, she is happy with the outcomes it gave: “we had a couple of members who were really touched by our goals, got in touch with us and asked to be a part of the project”. However, she admits that it’s hard to make most of the members keep its interest in History. “I understand that it’s a heavy subject and it needs concentration, so in a workshop at a Summer University is normal that people lose their attention quite easily”, she says.
Furthermore, EurStory counts with a strong supporter who might be quite well-known for many AEGEEans. It’s Dr. James Skelly, who has taken part in some panel discussions in AEGEE’s Statutory Events. Kristóf Papp approached him in the EBM Valletta, and was offered lots of materials and support from the beginning: “he [Skelly] said it has a huge potential. Since the EBM I met him several times, and we were discussing about the possible working method. He suggested to make the comparisons between exact events, which became the fundamental base of the project”.
A great idea that expects great outcomes
“We have lots of hours of reading, writing and contrasting ahead us, but I hope the outcome is great, because the idea is”, Marta says. There are many ways you can get more information and get involved in the project: the EurStory project team members plan to give a workshop in Autumn Agora Zaragoza, and you will hopefully see them on stage, too!
You can also reach them through:
Let’s all make history in AEGEE!
Written by Anna Gumbau, AEGEE-Barcelona
Pictures by Dasha Onokhova, AEGEE-Moskva