intro: cooperation is a basic principle to sustainable development, and diversity – biodiversity as well as cultural diversity - is an essential resource. An economy of equity, oriented to filling the gap between richness and poorness, is based on these principles. This is why the most advanced educational programs aim to enhance cultural exchange and networking towards sustainability.
creating new bonds: intercultural dialogue forms the basis for mutual understanding, respect and, above all, tolerance. That’s why DaimlerChrysler - an automobile company with worldwide operations - and UNESCO jointly launched the Mondialogo School Contest to motivate students to explore and appreciate the cultural diversity of our planet. The ‘Mondialogo School Contest’ is a unique approach where students between 15 and 18 years of age from around the world get into contact and dialogue with one another. Launched in September 2003, the initiative has been conceived to help students to take an active interest in others and to build bridges towards a harmonious coexistence.
students’ networking: to do this, Mondialogo contacted thousands of schools around the globe, particularly those from the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network, and invited teachers and their classes to join. Intercultural dialogue between the students played a crucial role in the contest. During the project phase, all participants were encouraged to create new bonds and even forge new friendships while learning the importance of openness, respect, tolerance and mutual understanding as prerequisites for living together in peace...
getting involved: in the ‘Mondialogo School Contest’ school students worldwide were encouraged to form project groups under a teacher’s supervision. In an exchange with students from a partner school from another continent, they had to develop project work on the topic of ‘intercultural dialogue’. The task called on students to become involved with the cultural identity and heritage within their own group, to explore new forms of cultural expression and to engage in an active dialogue with the students of their partner school. The task gave students a maximum amount of freedom to explore their own ideas and build on their own creativity. All forms of expression and media in any category were permitted: develop a game, compose a piece of music, make a work of art, record a video, film, play or poem, create an Internet page, etc.
In order to meet the contest requirements, the project work with the partner school had to reflect the following points:
helping to communicate: to enable as many school students as possible to enjoy and benefit from this exciting and enriching experience and allow entrants to make many new contacts, Mondialogo created conditions that facilitated dialogue between schools to take place. They provided every participating school with the address of a partner school in another continent and promoted communication between the two. Moreover, they established an individual team area on the Internet, where participating schools can introduce themselves, post their daily schedule and create their own team page, which can be accessed – if desired - by everyone on the World Team Map. Once participating schools are matched together, the teams can exchange ideas and information directly with their partner team and keep an extensive dialogue diary within a special dialogue area.
- discussion, reflection and appreciation of the cultures within one’s own group: how many cultures are there in the group and what is special about them? How do they differ? What do they have in common?
- discussion, analysis and appreciation of other cultures, cultural forms and expressions. The group could, for instance, examine the cultures of the partner school and try to learn as much as possible about its values, rules, customs, etc.
- active dialogue with students from other cultures and countries.
Furthermore Mondialogo distributed disposable cameras to both schools. They could take pictures of the team and their school, document their project and send the pictures to their partner school. There was also the option of using alternative means of communication, such as phone, fax and post.
the party: to promote intercultural dialogue between students and schools Mondialogo decided to reward the students and teachers of especially committed partner schools by arranging for them to meet in person. Taking part in the international ‘Mondialogo Symposium’ in Barcelona, Spain in September 2004 thus became one of the highlights of the contest. This is when two ‘Ambassadors’ from the 25 most committed partner teams together with their teachers met the representatives of their partner schools and other participants. During a festive ceremony, three outstanding partner teams received a symbolic donation to be used for the benefit of their schools.
The ‘Mondialogo School Contest’ concluded its first year in September 2004. With the participation of 1,481 teams from all over the world, it showed how simple ideas can produces major changes thanks to networking and a smart use of ICT.