Teen Flying University
„A nation that loses its memory ceases to be a nation – it only becomes a collection of people, temporarily occupying the territory.”– Józef Piłsudski
My name is Tomasz Cebulski. I am a political scientist with a professional passion for genealogy and guiding. For years, I have been reconstructing historical narratives of families, events, and places. After 20 years of educational and popularizing work mainly for English-speaking audiences, in 2020 I decided to develop an educational project – the Teen Flying University for students from Poland.
This project is possible thanks to the financial support of the Alfred Landecker Foundation and Humanity in Action.
The idea is simple and based on my previous experience of working with students at memorial sites and museums like Auschwitz-Birkenau or Museum of History on Polish Jews – POLIN.
My genealogy research and guiding firm POLIN TRAVEL and drone film interpretation project SKY HERITAGE PICTURES are also involved by sharing administration and experience.
The Teen Flying University is an educational project for young people aimed at raising awareness of local history and promoting memorial sites. The project consists of two parts. The first is a theoretical series of direct and online lecture and workshop meetings.
Together with my guest lecturers, we will familiarize young people with the secrets of the historian’s workshop. We will rediscover the history of the local community, local memorials. Within the educational workshops on work and safety in social media and creating photo and video content.
The second part of the project is collaborative fieldwork on the maintenance and interpretation of local memorial sites. Together, we will maintain cleanliness, introduce new markings, create descriptions on the spot and the Internet, take care of interpreting history and collecting testimonies to keep the memory alive for the next generations.
The preliminary photo-video contest aimed at activating students to their research and discoveries of historical sites is very popular among young project participants. On the project’s FB website, we present to the students a series of 6 to 10 photos taken in their cities, non-obvious photos, often zoom-in framed, but taken in historically important sites. The task of the students is to track down these details and take a good photo showing the entire context of the place and a one-sentence description of its history. This competition has great educational value and encourages young people to be active and visit historically important sites. The publication of photos and descriptions in the form of posts on FB makes these places more easily recognizable among young people and results in an interesting debate about the importance of these memorials for the youth in contemporary city life.
TASKS FOR STUDENTS?
The second part of the project will be of more practical nature. After conducting a survey of local memorial sites and getting to know their contemporary significance, together with young people, we will choose one place that requires intervention, cleaning, marking, refreshing, and reminding the local community. Equipped with theoretical knowledge and the appropriate consent of the hosts of these places, we will set off to restore one of them to its former glory, as well as take care of its description, interpretation and digital showcase on the Internet. An important advantage of the practical part is the need to activate young people around real field activities, detached from screens and remotely transmitted content. I am convinced that the best way to build lasting memory of historical events is to build narrative at and in relation to a physically existing site of memory. Of course, this type of outdoor activities will depend on the general pandemic situation in the country and the region of our potential activities.
For historical and personal reasons, I chose four cities for the project: Nowy Targ, Kraśnik, Czarny Dunajec and Jordanów. Part of the on-line training will be held in mixed groups of young people from up to two cities in one lecture. Such meetings will also serve to exchange good practices and ideas.
Theoretical part: April-May 2021
Practical part: May – June 2021
TEACHER / LEADER?
The project is designed to relieve the teacher / group leader and provide him with educational support for the content provided at school in subjects such as history, WOS or Polish. The primary task of the teacher / leader will be to select interested students and provide ad hoc assistance in informing students about the next steps of the project. Of course, the teacher / leader, if he wishes, will be very welcome as a substantive tutor of a given group, a student of the entire training panel and a tutor during the practical part of the project.
Awakening social activism of youth around local memorial sites.
Raising awareness of the richness of local history, local forms of commemoration and their universal message.
Raising historical, verbal and social competences of students.
Transfer of knowledge through meetings with local experts and custodians of memorial sites.
Presentation of the opportunities and methods of promotion of historical narratives in social media and practical aspects of creating visual content.
Intervention at and care for one of the memorial sites.
An additional, very important aspect of the project will be ‘detaching’ students from the computers and screens during practical part of the project.