The Fall of the Berlin Wall marked a new era in perceptions of European identity and the European integration process. In the context of marking the 30th anniversary of this memorable event, the International Summer School, co-organized by the University of Bicocca Milano and universities in Sarajevo, East Sarajevo and Mostar, with support from the EU Info Centre and the Embassy of Italy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, gathered students from sixteen countries in Sarajevo and Mostar in order to jointly discuss and rethink the culture of tolerance.
“Our history that has shaped the European Union is that of a peace project –but we need to keep the idea of a peace project alive more than ever. Our challenge, our task, is to demonstrate every day that we are stronger together and that is what you are doing here. We learn from our experience, we learn from our history and we are discussing the culture of tolerance,“ said Gianluca Vannini, Head of Section for Social Development, Cross Border Cooperation and Civil Society of the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While speaking to students, Vannini reminded them that European values of tolerance, respect for diversity and reconciliation are crucial to understanding our history – “Be open-minded, be compassionate, have understanding and exercise tolerance – that is your investment into your own present and the future. Our actions do make a difference. “
As part of the seven day intensive programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina, students took part in various academic and cultural activities aimed to provoke deeper knowledge and understanding and provide a new perspective on the culture of tolerance in the context of the European integration process. A multimedia exhibition “Rise and Fall“ by Matteo Ceschi and Jim Marshall presented a unique artistic dialogue between the cities of Milano and Sarajevo. The artists also took part in the student conference which examined the European models of democracy and reconciliation from a transnational perspective.
“We are very happy to cooperate with the International Summer School – it brings new people and ideas about BiH and the region and I am happy there are new people who want to cooperate and exchange experience. I know you come from all over the world, but for you to understand how specific this country is you should understand that tolerance is not something automatic – you need to learn to appreciate and practice it, which is not an easy task. This is also the idea behind Erasmus+, to enable travel, exchange experience and learn from each other,“ remarked Nicola Minasi, Ambassador of Italy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The symbolic addition to the students’ efforts was Rikardo Druškić‘s artwork “Awakening”, young BiH artist’s biggest canvas produced so far. “My cycle ‘Awakening of Consciousness’ tries to rethink individual and collective consciousness and how I, as an artist, can contribute to the changes in the society. I was inspired by the ideas of peace, tolerance, reconciliation, which are the topic of today’s programme and students’ conference. I am happy to have the opportunity to contribute to the work and ideas of students of the International Summer School,“ Druškić said.
Cultural diversity, respect of tolerance and collaboration showcased by the artists and students presented a reminder of the strength of diversity as one of the key European principles. The presented artworks and the conference conclusions underlined the need for collaboration, tolerance and understanding as principle values of the European integration.