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Trebnitz Castle – European Centre for Transnational Participation

Intercultural Encounter Projects in the German-Polish Border Region

The Schloß Trebnitz e. V. association was founded in 1992 and works in the area of education and encounter in the German-Polish border region. The association supports youth and adult education by offering apprenticeships and training programmes and coordinating international encounters. Since 2008, the work of the association has been significantly extended especially in the field of political education. There has been an increased focus on international participation in politics and society. This was followed by the establishment of a network for transnational participation which served as the forerunner of the current ‘European Centre for Transnational Participation’. The high demand for international and intercultural exchange in rural areas was highlighted by the almost 3,500 participant days that Schloss Trebnitz had already organised by 2013.

Professionalising our own International Activities

In order to continue to meet the demand for international activities in the German-Polish border region and to professionalise its own work, Schloss Trebnitz founded the ‘European Centre for Transnational Participation’. This was also a response to the tremendous increase in the association’s European activities, especially in the area of international encounter projects. In light of this we needed to create a new internal organisational structure, link existing areas and projects together and combine our knowledge. It is to this end that the Centre is equipped with its own archive in which project evaluations are collected with quality criteria. The European Centre, which has been funded as part of the ‘Strategic Partnerships’ within the EU Erasmus+ programme, aims to develop international participation by strengthening cooperation, projects and knowledge transfer in the German-Polish border region.

Doubling the Number of Participation Days

Establishing the ‘European Centre for International Participation’ enabled the association to add further to its offers as well. Around 10,000 participation days were organised in 2015, roughly 7,000 of which were carried out within our own projects. Furthermore, we were able to realise new projects and event formats which supported mutual intercultural and intergenerational exchange in the border region. One example of the results of the encounters is the song ‘European Vision’ which was created together with 50 participants as part of the project ‘European values of today and tomorrow’.

Alongside this, numerous other cooperative projects, including ventures funded by Erasmus+, have been implemented in the European Centre with German, Luxembourgian, Italian, Lithuanian, Croatian and Hungarian organisations and networking partners. We were awarded the German-Polish Prize 2014 amongst other things for our work in the border region.

Transferring the Concept to other Border Regions

With the European Centre, the corresponding development of our activities and the professionalisation of our European work, our association had become an important group and point of contact for cooperative projects in the German-Polish educational landscape. Currently, another area of responsibility has come up by the nomination to partnership representative of the federal state of Brandenburg for Poland. In the future, the European Centre for transnational participation is planned to operate in other border regions in Europe as well, thereby further expanding our networking activities and enabling new cooperative projects. Our particular focus is on the large border regions Poland-Lithuania, Germany-Czech Republic, Slovakia-Hungary and the Luxembourg area in general. Nikolaus Teichmüller, scientific leader of the ‘European Centre for International Participation’, commented: “Border regions are central areas to embed Europe in civil society. The focus of our future activities will continue to be on bringing together different countries in order to enable mutual intercultural learning in accordance with the European ideals.”