Catherine Dimitriadou, Niki Theodosiou: Exploring the borderland of Western Macedonia: Reflections on an ERASMUS Intensive Programme

Abstract
 
In 2010 an Erasmus Intensive Programme was developed by the University of Western Macedonia, entitled “People and Space in the Borderland of Western Macedonia: Tracing historical, social and intercultural features” (P.S.BoWMa) (www.eled.uowm.gr/ip). Twenty seven higher Education students and nineteen teachers of different disciplines from three different countries (Greece, Slovenia and the Netherlands) were given the opportunity to approach the challenges of ‘exploring’ pluralism, diversity and the cultural particularities with regard to the local history, the social structure and the cultural identity of the communities living in the area. The project consisted of seminars, workshops and experiential, hands-on inquiry activities guided by both social scientists and artists. Within this framework, the borderland of Western Macedonia was transformed into a vast international classroom where the participants were involved in literacy practices through outdoor activities: meeting “in situ” with people, visiting locations and historic monuments, shooting footage, hiking and camping in the area of Prespes, recording sounds and conducting interviews. Moreover, the participants were engaged in web-based exercises and produced multimedia teaching material for primary education students. The effectiveness of the program was assessed through observation, interviews and questionnaires. The participants were urged to reflect on their motivation and expectations, the interaction and cooperation they experienced, the content and process knowledge they acquired, the strengths and weaknesses of the programme, as well as to make suggestions for the future. The results, as they were pinpointed within the framework of a master’s dissertation submitted in the School of Education in Florina, are presented in this paper.