Background to the SMILE Project

SEEding the future

One of the challenges facing countries from South-Eastern Europe (SEE) is how to deal with the internal diversity of their populations. However, these countries have made progress in addressing national and cross-border issues of identity, as well as cultural, ethnic, and religious differences. Governments and civil society have to continue building the desire and capacity for national reconciliation and regional cooperation. United by a common European perspective, the SEE countries together can and should address questions of tolerance, human rights, and education in citizenship and democracy.

The SMILE project works to build regional cooperation in the fields of intercultural learning and human rights education. Through seminars and workshops, we hope to bring together adult educators from across the SEE countries in order to provide networking opportunities, and to offer tools and ideas for increasing reconciliation and intercultural learning across the region.

The Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (IIZ/DVV) recognizes the importance of fostering reconciliation in South-Eastern Europe. Hence, IIZ/DVV has generously assisted partner organisations from the region in securing financial support for the SMILE project from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The goals of the SMILE Project

The goals of the SMILE project are connected to the general goals of the project activities of IIZ/DVV in the South East Europe region, with a special focus on the intercultural aspects such as:
  • reflecting on a global dimension, or understanding how people, places and environments are all inextricably interrelated and that actions have repercussions on a global scale
  • developing a critical awareness of our cultural imprint, and the influence of the norms and values of one’s country of origin, and the inherent ethnocentric bias
  • understanding, respecting, and valuing differences, and relating those differences to our common humanity
  • understanding the nature of conflict and practicing strategies for dealing with it

The innovations of the project

The project brings together adult educators, teachers, and experts on intercultural learning from different ethnic and religious backgrounds with the belief that personal encounters are the fastest way of overcoming negative stereotypes.

Furthermore the project activities provide the participants with opportunities for both personal and professional development and involve them in building sustainable measures for regional cooperation and local initiatives.

Finally the project promotes field-tested European training practices and approaches in intercultural learning, and encourages participation in adapting those practices to the situation in SEE.

The specific aims of the SMILE Project

  • to promote intercultural learning and cultural awareness.
  • to practice and train adult educators in unconventional teaching and learning approaches
  • to train adult educators/ teachers with new participatory teaching methods such as the Future Creating Workshop, the Socratic Dialogue, etc.
  • to develop grassroots initiatives in intercultural education
  • to design training modules on intercultural learning
  • to foster regional cooperation in South Eastern Europe