The CU Faculty of Arts (FF UK) has come top nationwide and second in Europe in the Charlemagne Youth Prize, awarded by the European Parliament for projects supporting European unity and understanding. Gathering plaudits in Brussels was the concept of presentations about individual countries, which has been organised since the 2008/09 academic year by the Erasmus Club of the Faculty of Arts under the title ‘Evropa dělá školu’ (‘Europe Meets School / Europa macht Schule’).
“The aim of the project is to give schoolchildren an idea of the cultures and countries that Erasmus students come from,” said the project’s chief coordinator, Ivana Herglová, in describing the concept, which she conceived based on the German organisation Europa macht Schule. It is aimed at incoming students, who prepare a presentation about their country then realise it at selected schools with the aid of a tutor to interpret for pupils. These presentations are most frequently incorporated in language lessons or as something different for geography, history or art education lessons.
The Charlemagne Prize was awarded in the German City of Aachen by former President of the European Parliament, Hans Gerd Pöttering, and received by Renata Kopřivová, who became involved in the project immediately after her return from her Erasmus study period and works as an interpreter for the majority of German projects. She is also a co-coordinator in the organisation of presentations.
Every student approaches their presentation on their country and culture differently – some go through a fairytale with the children in their host class, some give a general geographical presentation, e.g. by teaching children traditional dance or painting. Sometimes art students prepare e.g. highly specific projects about German Expressionism or Christmas in Finland; there is a wide variety of approaches. What is important is that children and students enjoy themselves.
“Based on the response of school pupils, the most successful projects have been students’ presentations about their home towns. Children are interested in things that they’re familiar with, like for example photos of schools. I have taken part in projects for first- to ninth-grade classes and I’ve never seen any unhappy children,” said Renata Kopřivová.
The competition for the European Charlemagne Youth Prize has been organised by the European Parliament every year since 2008 in cooperation with the Charlemagne Foundation and is subsidised to the amount of 10,000 EUR. The second-placed project in the competition receives 3,000 EUR. This sum will be used by the project in the coming years for the creation of a website and the realisation of student projects.
Around 15 volunteer tutors involved in the Faculty of Arts’ Erasmus Club participate in the ‘Evropa dělá školu’ project every year, accompanying Erasmus students to schools and, if needed, translating the project into Czech. Tutors are mostly students of language-related subjects or translation/interpreting, giving them an opportunity to do their mandatory work experience.