Training for Multipliers

From the 21st to the 28th of May, 25 participants coming from different countries gathered in Folgaria, Italy, to share experience and create new tools to be used within the Memory beyond Rethoric project. The participants of the Training for Multipliers stayed for those seven days in Casa Quercia, a house managed by the group GIOVANI 2000. Its geographical position meant that it was used as a hospital during WWI, and as a orphanage after it. It is situated in the north of Italy, in the heart of the Dolomites Mountains, very close to the Austrian border. Working there, the participants could feel very connected to the story of the place and at the same time were very inspired by the natural beauty of the region.

The event involved 26 cparticipants, including 1 participant form Germany, 1 participant from Hungary, 1 participant from Bulgaria, 1 participant from Ireland, 3 participants from Serbia, 2 participants form Belgium, 1 participant from Czech Republic, 1 participant from Slovenia and 14 participants from Italy. There was also a participant coming from Russia. The aim of the event was to gather peace and remembrance messengers from different countries and backgrounds to implement activites in line with the topics and the spirit of the project. Other aims of the event were: to raise awareness about the importance of memory and how it is built; to reflect on the cost of non-Europe, on pacisfism and participation; and to encourage participants to contribute and develop project activities and follow up actions in their countries.

Photo by Mariia Buldakova

The training started with some team building activities, so the participants could get to know each other and create a nice environment, comfortable and productive, to work together during the following days. The sessions advanced and focused on the topic of the First World War, always looking at it from the pacifist side. Valerie and Katerina, the trainers, made sure to bring some light to the human part of WWI, forgotten so often. Through a variety of workshops and discussions, the participants delved into topics like the role of women, the situation of those who refuse to fight, storytelling of the war, etcetera. From there, they started talking about SCI history, seeing the link between the organization where they are currently involved and the Battle of Verdun in 1920. Indeed, that’s how it all began when Pierre Cérésole and a small group of International Volunteers came together in order to reconstruct the war damaged village of Esnes-en-Argonne, being a symbol of reconciliation between France and Germany. Among the small group of international volunteers were also three German volunteers and they built up temporary homes for the villagers and cleared the farm land. That was the first time for what nowadays we are so used to calling an “International Workcamp”. 

Photo by Marta Palau

And after a deep look into the past, it was time to come back to the present and work on creating together. The participants spent the last days of the training designing and running workshops on the following topics: Human Rights, Peace Building and the Changes in the European map after WWI. They were at the same time inventors and testers, what was very useful in order to learn about planning, group dynamics and working as a team.

All the participants that took part in this training became “Memoric Multipliers”. That means that during the following months they will all be involved in activities, events, workcamps or trainings related to the WW1 and the pacifist history, promoting a culture of peace. Moreover, the workshops will be included in the Memory beyond Rhetoric e-book and will be available to be used in the Study Camps that will be taking place during the summer in Germany, Austria and Belgium.

“It was very easy to work together; everybody had so much to offer and to contribute to the group… not only during the study session but also in the free time! We focused on the human part of WWI and at the same time, we met the human part of the Memory beyond Rhetoric project, the people that is and will be spreading its message. From now on I think that Memory beyond Rhetoric has a soul, and a very nice one!” – Marta. 

“The group we have been working with has been a great combination of participants: Some of them have a strong background regarding workcamp coordination; others, a vast knowledge of WWI and/or the story of pacifism; others great experience in peace building and conflict resolution... And all of them are full of energy and motivation during all the sessions. “ – Katerina

“My favorite part of the training was the workshop on nonviolent communication, because I think I can use it on my daily life very often.” – Farid.

“I was surprised to see the strong link between pacifism during the WWI and the peace movement today. I think that learning about the past gives the present new nuances for those who haven’t lived it. I’m even happier now to be involved with SCI! “ – Zuzana

“It was very interesting to listen to different participants coming from different countries explaining the First World War with their own words. I remember that in school I studied this part of history, but I see now that it was strongly influenced by my country's point of view. I think that after this week, I understand it much better than after memorizing my school books. “ - Stefania

Photo by Mariia Buldakova