“ὤ μοι ἐγώ, τέων αὖτε βροτῶν ἐς γαῖαν ἱκάνω;
ἦ ῥ’ οἵ γ’ ὑβρισταί τε καὶ ἄγριοι οὐδὲ δίκαιοι, ἦε φιλόξεινοι καί σφιν νόος ἐστὶ θεουδής;”
“Now, by my life, mankind again! But who? Savages, are they, strangers to courtesy? Or gentle folk, who know and fear the gods?” (The Odyssey, Homer 102)
We are the witnesses of turbulent times in a globalized world which is beset by a severe financial crisis, unprecedented flows of refugees fleeing from war and persecution and the rise of extremist ideologies which bring back painful memories of the past. For this reason, it is becoming more imperative than ever that education should rise to the challenges of today and enable students to realize their full potential as both learners and responsible citizens in the context of a diverse, multicultural changing world.
This project aims to develop transversal and intercultural competencies against the backdrop of a real-life scenario in a webcomic entitled Ody. It will follow the journey of an imaginary Syrian refugee called Ody who has to travel across five countries, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain before he is reunited with his family who has found shelter in Sweden, a sort of Promised Land for them. Ody, which is a non-existent name, was intentionally chosen so as to compare the character to a modern day Odysseus. Homer’s timeless epic, the Odyssey, is a study in the treatment of strangers and contains all those universal truths about human values that modern Europe is struggling to discover again.
The main purpose of the project is to awaken all participants to shared European values such as democracy, solidarity, tolerance and respect for difference by making them understand their own culture better and at the same time provide a new teaching tool to European schools. Taking advantage of the possibilities of the multi-authoring tool of ComicLab and other applications of Web 2.0 tools, a six chapter interactive multimedia story describing the character’s travels will be created by the six partner schools while improving the participants’ skills in five different disciplines in the process. The chosen areas of learning bring added value to the project because the development of high skills in these subjects underpins the success of this undertaking, which is to raise people’s awareness of the problem of the refugee crisis and how it should be handled by European citizens trying to find their identity in a changing world. The improvement of the participants’ linguistic skills in English will bring them closer and increase their qualifications, the integration of ICT in all activities will grow the technological expertise that is essential in the international job market and will allow for better interaction amongst the participants, exposure to geographical information will enhance intercultural understanding and awareness of the interconnectedness of the world, citizenship education will sum up and reinforce the understanding of the countries explored and their citizens’ place in them and, finally, a closer look at the rich cultural heritage and history of the six partner countries will give us all a meaningful sense of identity and belonging in a society which has learnt from its past.
All partner countries have a large number of refugees either staying temporarily at reception centers before continuing their journey to their preferred destination or starting a new life in their adopted new home. Our educational authorities are attempting to integrate their children into school and this is our contribution.
The methodology of the project will lay special emphasis on the “learning by doing” approach aided by technology giving priority to the promotion of student autonomy, the development of motivation, creativity and imagination as the means of discovering knowledge. The use of digital technologies will become the unifying factor that will give everyone the opportunity to learn to interact more effectively, collaborate closely and understand our similarities and differences better by having to work in the multicultural environment of this project.
The successful implementation of this project is expected to have a far-reaching impact on all members of the educational community as most schools are receptive to introducing innovation in their national curricula in an effort to adapt to the challenging changes in society. The results of the project can be translated into a full school year course with detailed lesson plans, activities and tests to measure the tangible effects of learning. Its flexibility also allows for further experimentation and potential introduction of more branches of knowledge but, more importantly, it will arouse interest in other educational institutions or forward- thinking education policymakers.
With the exploitation of European web platforms, the project is expected to reach an international audience with a sensitive ear to the cataclysmic changes taking place in Europe.