To commemorate the 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall, the U.S. Department of State is launching a special exchange program, Telling Our Stories, for Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The goal of Telling Our Stories is to create a regional network of Generation Z and Y (Millennials) digital storytellers – students and teachers – committed to reaching out to their peers, on various digital platforms, in ways that are grounded in solid understanding of the history of communism and post-communism and meant to inspire civic engagement.
This three-part anniversary exchange contains the following program components:
- Understanding Communism – European Tour (August 25 – September 7, 2019): This ten-day segment will include multi-generational meetings, workshops, and relevant sites visits in three countries in Armenia, Czech Republic, and Romania to understand the variety of post-Communism realities and the varying approaches to transitions
- S.-Program – Translating Knowledge Into Action (October 20-November 2, 2019): The U.S.-based segment will provide participants a deeper understanding of the post-communist transition from U.S. and global perspectives. By contrast with the history and the reality of oppressive regimes worldwide, special attention will also be paid to youth civic engagement and political activism in the U.S. and methods of raising awareness and civic participation, as a cornerstone of democratic countries.
- Final Summit and Hackathon in Prague (December 7-8, 2019): American experts and university students, international experts, and Digital Communication Network members, will facilitate a hackathon to create compelling multi-platform stories, reflecting the themes of the program: post-Communist Eastern Europe and avenues for youth engagement, to overcome challenges and obstacles in their individual societies. All youth participants in the exchange will be invited individually or in teams at the hackathon. A regional network “Telling Our Stories while Living Them” will be launched with the purpose of sharing digital stories grounded in facts, to contribute to a better understanding of both the communism past and the challenging path to a democratic future. A montage of the best digital products resulted from the hackathon will be presented, as part of the Digital Communication Network end of the year event, including simultaneous streaming to events throughout the region.
Participants should include educators (Generation Y – born after 1980) and high school students (Generation Z) with 1.) a proven interest and passion for areas such as history, civic engagement, and socio-political issues, and 2.) desire to build and use digital storytelling skills. Educators should have a proven track-record of creative teaching of drama, history, journalism, literature, psychology, political science, social studies, and sociology Students will be chosen from clubs or classes which promote curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and leadership skills, as they apply to social issues. English proficiency is a must.