Mapping a Generation in Times of Change

A glance at the dramatic changes and the way people dealt with them

Start: May 2015, Sofia

Coordination: DRA Berlin

Workshops: Sofia Platform

In all the countries of the former Eastern bloc the so-called "third generation" faced a fundamental transformation. In Germany the members of this generation are called "children of change". Living in between the collapse and a new beginning; poverty and abundance; new ideals and uncertainty of the future. Being promised that borders no longer matter and persistently feeling that those still do - just elsewhere and in a different form.

Those born between 1975 and 1985 have this in common - they had to grow up and seek guidance at a time when all the landmarks literally overnight had lost any sense, and when the experience and the social role of their parents' generation practically disappeared.

The "Generation Project" was initiated by DRA in early 2015, it was meant to make possible multilateral and long-term exchanges between organizations from Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe on the matter of their impressions and experiences of young people from these countries on how each of them experienced a radical change that took place in their country in the 1990s in the economic, social and political spheres. The first introductory workshop in late 2015 Sofia brought together the members of non-governmental organizations and foundations from Bulgaria, Bosnia, Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, Germany and the Czech Republic, in order to prepare the basis for the future joint projects.

The project partners are:

  • German-Russian Exchange (Berlin / Germany)
  • Sofia Platform (Sofia / Bulgaria)
  • Zakharov Center (Moscow, Russia)
  • Congress of Culture Activists (Kiev / Ukraine)
  • Antikomplex (Prague / Czech Republic)
  • Perspektive hoch Drei (Berlin / Germany)
  • Institute of Social Sciences (Zagreb / ​​Croatia)
  • Populari (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

The seminar started with the exchange of personal impressions from those events in each country. Later on a discussion with scientists and sociologists, as well as representatives of the Bulgarian President took place – the topic was whether citizens know their history and main goals of the educational system. "I think that no one expected that these countries had had the same approach to the transformation, but I doubt that anyone could have anticipated how different this would be in reality. “One of the most salient differences is in reason and timing of the moment when “history stood still” - summed up one of the participants after the workshop.

The project partners decided to work on two issues, which our project will focus on:

  1. Understanding the differences. What did the transformations in each country mean? What social, economic, social and political differences exist and what impact they have inflicted on the "third generation"?
  2. Working to solve common problems and conflicts. In all countries, there are untold facts and stories about the times of communism or socialism, which leads to an affinity for idealization. What does the generation know about its history and how it copes with it? What’s the extent of an explosive potential engraved in the unanalyzed family history, the role of parents and grandparents in the old system?

We and our partners will be looking for answers to these questions for the months to come.

So far we have scheduled:

  • interviews
  • discussions
  • researches
  • cultural events
  • video projects
  • exhibitions
  • lectures at the Zakharov Center
  • international open seminar and podium discussion in Berlin in the autumn of 2015

We want to tell and understand the story of the generation that found itself at the time of change. How these events influenced their self-perception and the way how they see and use their place in society? Through discussions we want to help this generation to deal with its history and its values.

The project partners want to analyze their work and compare:

  • What are the civil ways of tacking the issues of change and how effective they are?
  • Is there a room for experience exchange in this regard?

We as a civil society organization want to develop a way of supporting people who got embroiled into the process of social transformation and to bolster a pluralist and democratic civil society.

We thank the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) for funding the workshops.

Our partner in Germany is «Perspektive», detailed information about the organization can be found on the website:

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