2018 was designated the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Europe's cultural heritage surrounds us in the buildings of our cities, our landscapes and archaeological sites. It is preserved not only in literature, art and objects but also in craft skills, stories, food and films. Europe is changing, the migration wave established several questions - What are our roots, our traditions? Are we aware of them, are we living with respect to them? What are similarities and differences between various cultures? Do the differences endanger our own culture? How much have our traditions changed?

Six European schools from the Czech Republic, Finland, Cyprus, Spain, Italy and Turkey agreed on a two-year cooperation on this topic, these six schools realised that the "Roots" project would help their students and teachers to enlarge their overview of culture, traditions, roots and heritage and answer the above mentioned questions, that the project would help them to learn more about other cultures but also about their own culture, preserve traditions and keep or develop them.

The project included both local activities and mobilities (learning/teaching/training activities). The activities focused on roots and cultural heritage and included topics such as: life in the past, folk stories, music and dance, migration, cuisine or language. During the workshops we also dealt with several European issues.

In this project we achieved the following objectives and concrete results:

1. Development of competences of the participants of the project (communication and language, cultural awareness, creative, digital, social, analytical, and moving).

2. Printed outputs - Book of stories, a brochure about the project, a photobook, e-magazines, newsletters, and various promotional materials.

3. Online outputs - web, facebook page, Twinspace, e-magazines, logo.

4. Development of international cooperation in the partner schools and strengthening the cooperation of the schools with municipalities, libraries, community centres and houses of culture at the local and regional level.

5. Breaking stereotypes about other cultures, traditions and lifestyles.

6. Extending the knowledge of the partner countries in the field of history, traditions, customs, ways of life, and geography.

7. Extending (or gaining) the knowledge about various UNESCO sites.

8. Development of friendship with students and colleagues from the partner schools.

9. Development of awareness of the European Union issues including Erasmus+ programme.

10. Exchange of good practices and methods of work with young people

The participants were students aged 14-19 from six countries from various parts of Europe, from various cultural, social, geographical background, their headmasters, teachers, other school staff, parents and grandparents. We involved public into our activities, too, particularly responsible people from municipalities, libraries, and community centres. In the activity "Interview with older people" and creating "Book of stories" old people were involved to share their life experience. Each school involved more than 50 participants in local activities and 12-15 students in mobilities.

During the activites we used various methods of work - presentations, workshops, discussions and debates, interviews, excursions, seminars, lectures, role-play activities, intercultural activities etc. We used methods of both formal and informal education.

The project had a desired impact on the participating schools, it helped to start or extend their international partnerships and activities, the schools became more popular for next newcomers and public learned more about school activities. People not connected with schools so far could learn about the schools activities and foumd some ways of cooperation. The students and teachers of the partner schools improved their skills and became more interesting for the labour market.

Motivation of the students and teachers for future international cooperation increased and the awareness about Erasmus+ programme and other matters regarding the European Union was enlarged. The project helped the participants to become aware of the roots, history, traditions and cultural heritage of their country and to overcome prejudices and stereotypes about other cultures. This is an important fact particularly in countries where anti-European forces are getting stronger and in the times when Europe looks back to its roots.

The project will bring a long-time benefit for the schools, some of the materals, presentations, Book of stories as well as some methods of work will be used in the future and involved in a curriculum.

The schools also strengthened their cooperation with municipalities, libraries or community centres and will be also able to offer future students the gained experience. And above all, the participants gained and developed their competences and became more educated, more cultural and more interesting for labour market.

Despite the pandemic, which influenced the last project meeting planned for Spain, we managed to accomplish all the project tasks we wanted and finished our project cooperation successfully.

The "Roots" project is over, it is time to look ahead and get involved in new projects and new partnerships! 

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Author and coordinator of the project: MARTIN FROLÍK
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