Continuing the journey in Croatia – recent activities by Udruga Balkon
As more structures throughout Europe join Colours of a Journey, Udruga Balkon, our partner organisation in Croatia, has extended its activities in Zagreb and Kutina – two cities with migrant reception centers.
In addition to the initial exhibitions held in public libraries, Dugave and Travno, Udruga Balkon has continued exhibiting the drawings of migrant children in Gustav Krklec, a Primary school attended by migrant children based in Zagreb, and in Vladimir Vidrić, the primary school in Kutina attended by children based in the Kutina Reception center. The exhibition in Kutina was done in collaboration with our partners from KCM Kutina (Kulturni centar mladih), a youth organization from Kutina.
Both of these exhibitions were set up by a collaboration of local and migrant students and the teaching staff of the schools – the selection of drawings and the curation of the exhibitions was done entirely by the students and teaching staff. They decided to emphasize the drawings made by students from their school and the children familiar to their communities.
The migrant children, who are also the artists of the drawings displayed in the nearby Hotel Porin, take classes in Gustav Krklec, and so decided to present their migration stories in front of the classes that attended the opening ceremony. This enabled them both to practice in Croatian and to enhance their public speaking skills in front of the children and members of the NGO’s that attended the ceremony.
Unlike in Zagreb, the migrant children in Kutina usually stay in school for a very short period of time, often not more than a few weeks, as their families are reallocated to other places in Croatia or Europe. Unfortunately, there none of them were in the school when the exhibition opening took place. Local students and the community of Kutina welcomed the exhibition and recognized its importance for showing their students the perspectives of migrant children, their neighbors and fellow citizens.
The Exhibitions were displayed for more than a month and will continue their journey around more libraries in Zagreb that expressed the wish to host them.
Media literacy workshops
After a few months of exhibiting the drawings in libraries and schools in Zagreb and Kutina, Udruga Balkon designed a series of media literacy workshops aimed towards students in primary schools and high schools. The idea behind the workshops is to increase students’ engagement in the topics of migration and visuality through non-formal education, to provide an alternative perspective to often stereotypical media content on migration and to show them various types of representation in the media. The workshops are designed in two formats: multiple 45-minute blocks for schools and intensive blocks for other institutions such as cultural centers and libraries.
The first workshop was conducted in cooperation with primary school Miroslava Krleže Zagreb in KCR Ribnjak (Cultural Center Ribnjak). A fourth grade class attended the workshop where they discussed issues of migration, media representations and refugees. A selection of drawings from CoJ were given to children for analysis, to consider links between their own personal experiences and those of refugees, how their pasts differed and to what extent their visions of the future overlapped and, or varied.
These workshops will grow and develop as they continue take place over the coming months with children in primary schools and high schools in Zagreb. Other structures and partner organisations are welcomed to join the process, share experiences and increase the visibility of the project in their local communities.