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Words of Europe: art and participation in Hungary

The project coordinated by Arci Solidarietà makes a stop in Budapest for the sixth phase of the project aimed at active citizen engagement, in view of the upcoming European elections in June.

14 February 2024

Words of Europe, a project supported by the European Commission through the CERV program (Citizens, Equality, Rights, and Values), has reached the sixth of the ten planned phases over the course of two years: after defining the Words of Europe through meetings, debates, and brainstorming, the project continued in 2023 with various panels aimed at analyzing the key words that emerged in the meetings and a series of workshops on the European Union, covering topics such as history, institutions, organizations, fake news, and digital media literacy.

Between the end of 2023 and the beginning of the year, the works of Work Package 6 were concluded, which involved meetings on the co-design of the participatory model, with local meetings to imagine the method of involvement on the Words of Europe and final workshops to test this model. One of the events that characterized the sixth phase of the project took place at the Mechatronikai Technikum in Budapest, involving a group of 25 17-year-old students. The workshop, organized by one of the Hungarian partners of the project, the Subjective Values Foundation, provided a space to discuss relevant social issues through art and play. After a brief introduction, the students brainstormed artistic tools such as music, poetry, painting, collage, photos, videos, and clay sculptures to raise awareness about specific issues.

Divided into smaller groups, the students chose a social issue and an artistic tool to express it. From 3D models to painting, each group addressed issues such as climate change, racism, stereotypes, poverty, addiction to social media, and rising prices. The creations became symbolic means to initiate meaningful discussions on current issues. Group A chose 3D modeling as a tool and created a meteor striking the Earth using a computer, metaphorically depicting how the climate crisis is making the planet uninhabitable, reminiscent of the plot of the famous Hollywood film "Don’t Look Up." Group B created a sculpture with clay on racism, focusing on police excesses against black people in the United States. Group C also used clay to symbolize the danger of stereotypes and prejudices against different social groups. Group D created a collage using magazines to address the theme of poverty and hunger. Group E created a painting to draw attention to the dependence caused by social media. Group F created a collage on the theme of rising prices (e.g., gas) and the decrease in quality of life.

After creating the artworks, the groups presented and explained the relevance of their choices. This moment facilitated the sharing of perspectives and expanded the understanding of the themes addressed. The variety of approaches highlighted the richness of diversity in thought and creativity among the participants. To conclude the event, Dixit cards, a popular board game, were used. Participants chose cards by linking them to social issues and shared the reasons behind their choices, providing an additional opportunity for reflection and connection among students. The students participating in these workshops are not just passive spectators but become active creators of knowledge and change.

This process not only emotionally involves them but also equips them with the necessary skills to critically analyze the world around them. With the completion of the workshop in Hungary, the Words of Europe project continues to grow and engage. The next stages will take this journey to other European countries, fueling dialogue and democratic participation through the power of words and art.