"Our project is an attempt to put into action the ideas of mutual communication about values of life. It is an attempt to address students and teachers, brought up and indoctrinated with different historic facts, representing different cultures and nations and declaring different values. It is an attempt to establish a dialogue which is not able to be realized without serious and conscious partners - Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic or Turkey. It is an attempt to show students how difficult communication, finding compromises and positive moods can be, how difficult it is sometimes to fight for our rights.
We are optimists and believe that the investigation of such serious topics can improve awareness of each other’s uniqueness, pride to traditions and willingness to know others, their values and opinions. We believe that this interaction will bring results which the European Parliament aimed for when it appreciates each individual or a group which fights for us all!
We highly respect the ideas which have joined our partnership and we will be proud if we get a chance to revive our ideas and to be active citizens at the birth of new Europe."
Two years later...
Evolving from the European Coal and Steel Community in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome as the "European Economic Community" reformed by the Treaty of Maastricht as European Union had the major aim of co-operation among member nations. Each member, irrespective of its size or power is an equal member to the rest. The citizens are allowed to move and work freely throughout the Union and exchange goods and services avoiding extra taxation. Member states promote a common foreign policy and up to a point economic integration by the ones who adopted the common currency.
The wealth of the European Union though is the people. Under the Union, citizens from all member states accept and respect each other despite their differences. The plethora of languages and the diverse cultural wealth enriches the unique character of the Union. It is not surprising that the European Union remains the focus and dream for millions of non-EU citizens to come, receive high quality education and health care, live, work and prosper.
Under the educational programmes such as Comenius or the new Erasmus+, students and educators have a great opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from various countries and acquire knowledge, experiences and skills beyond the traditional and conventional education systems of their countries. Schools and others take advantage of these programmes to exchange practices and visits and get to know first hand how the rest of Europe functions. In addition to this, they have the privilege to experience a different culture and learn to respect each other. Most important though, participants have the unique opportunity to meet and discuss with their peers daily issues and come up with ideas and further actions to resolve problems.
The European Union proclaimed symbolically the year 2013 as the year of the European citizenship. The partnership studied the characteristics of multicultural societies, noting their pluralistic nature, functioning of democratic societies, founded on mutual respect of each society's cultural identity and uniqueness. Each multicultural society consists of different social and ethnic groups but also enriched by citizens of different nationalities.
The partnership "Differences Unites Us" is a project of five partner schools from Slovakia, Cyprus, Turkey, Lithuania and Czech Republic. The topic, on which the partnership was created, was based on the November 2009-July 2014 Vice-President of the European Commission, Mrs. Viviane Reding´s ideas: "It is about Europe, it is about you. We want to build Europe with you, for you and for future generations."
The heterogeneous composition of the partnership gave a wide spectrum for comparison of the state of multiculturalism with the advancement of society.
During the 2 year-long work, partners endeavoured to understand the importance of the idea of a multicultural society and find out to which extent the ideals of equality and mutual respect resonates in the political arena within each nation. Additionally, the feelings and beliefs of native people in each nation regarding multiculturalism have been researched and identified. The project tried to stimulate long-lasting, viable solutions on the students’ mind-level as to how to inspire their fellow peers and furthermore their society and to get people support regardless of their origin, race or conviction.
It was with great sorrow and grief that all watched hundreds and even thousands of people, including innocent children, lose their lives in their struggle to leave war devastated areas. It is regretful to watch the lines with thousands of refugees trying to reach Europe. It is a crime for few human traffickers to exploit all these people and often abandon them with no remorse. It is the humanistic role of civilised and developed nations to provide their assistance to these refugees and extend a hand of support and hope.
The partner countries have a dream...
The dream that our ancestors will be able to experience the multicultural society - the essential and pluralistic society.
The dream about a society where native Europeans and newcomers live hand in hand in mutual respect and admiration, for mutual joy and progress.
The dream about one society where all people are equal independent of the colour of skin, the cultural conviction and confession, simply active, conscious, educated citizens of new Europe.
The dream about a free decision where one would like to live, study, work and start the family.