Giving young people from different countries the opportunity to meet, and encouraging them to join in shaping the life of a common Europe is the main goal of Network St. Marienthal. Founded in 1994, it has been organising intercultural youth seminars in cooperation with the International Encounter Centre of St. Marienthal since 1997. These seminars provide a forum for sharing ideas and experiences, and are used to continue projects that were prepared by the various partner groups.
For one week the participants work and spend time together, thus establishing contacts across national and cultural differences. The seminars enable the participants to get to know each other more closely, see others from new angles and overcome national stereotypes.
We tried to establish every year two 7 days – seminars, which didn’t work out a few times because of missing fundings. In the last years this has been a historical seminar, focusing on the meetings with temporary witnesses from the Shoah /3rd Reich in Germany and the intercultural/creative seminar with various „european“ topics. From 2015 on we will have a new established interreligious seminar and intercultural/creative seminar with the focus „Fall of the wall“ and also meetings with contemporary witnesses of that time. Both in period of autumn.
From the very beginning Network St. Marienthal has focussed on bridging the gap between East and West European nations, as is reflected by the variety of countries involved in the projects. Participants in the intercultural seminars come (in alphabetic order) from the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The issues investigated by internationally composed work groups during the intercultural seminars are as diverse as life in Europe itself. In the past, participants for instance
* surveyed the relationship between Poland and Germany,
* dealt with environmental issues,
* wrote and performed a genuinely European theatre play,
* designed web campaigns for sustainable tourism in the partner countries,
* made films on subjects such the situation of minorities in Europe,
* and even carried out practical repair work on a listed old barn on the German-Polish border.
Thus, in a figurative as well as a very literal sense, the participants in the different projects joined in an effort to build the “house of Europe”.
The young people taking part in these projects learn a great deal as they go. They pick up a variety of skills, organisational, technical, and others. They practice their foreign language, presentation and team working skills, and do so, as it were, on an international stage.
Many of those who experienced the intercultural seminars have stayed in touch, through social networks and otherwise. They have been carrying on the vision of a Europe united by citizens who understand that only by joining hands and peacefully working together for a common future can we tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
The Seminars has been funded with support in the last years among others by:
Deutsch-Tschechischer Zukunftsfond (german-czech future foundation)
Youth in Action Programme from the European Commission