INFO IN ENGLISH
Dragonfly is an ecological and cultural educational program for children, organized by the editors of the first politically free journal after 1989 in Hungary, Liget [Grove]. The program is based on a beautiful magazine for Hungarian-speaking students in Hungary and the neighbouring countries and a regular teacher training program.
Working since 2008 with state approval it is appreciated by various educational and cultural organizations. The program currently works in 53 institutions and is free for the schools.
The experts of Pressley Ridge Hungary Foundation and International Parents’ Alliance co-operate in designing the workshops and meetings of the program.
FUTURE MEMORY PROJECT
Targeting 11–14 years old Roma girls living in socially disadvantaged areas of Hungary, the Future Memory project is based on Dragonfly’s unique educational methodology that integrates experimental, environmental and art education to facilitate an enjoyable learning process for the students and to provide them with a safe and understanding environment by educating the adults they are most often in connection with.
Researchers have determined that many of the same brain structures are involved in both remembering and forecasting. They looked at activity in the brain’s default network, which includes the hippocampus as well as regions that involve processing personal information, spatial navigation, and sensory information. They found that activity in many of these regions was almost completely overlapping when people remembered and imagined future events.
In our western culture, the life script is something like: go to school, move out of your parents’ place, get one or more college degrees, find a job, fall in love, get married, buy a house, have kids, retire, have grandchildren, die. However, these milestones of life are not available for disadvantaged children, because there are no such life scripts in their environment that they could learn from and imitate. Therefore, when picturing their future life, these children revert back to the failures of their parents and grandparents, re-enacting their wrong decisions (e.g. early pregnancy, dropping out of school). Research also shows that by simply talking about ideas and plans, the brain creates so-called “future memories”. These can be further strengthened by interactive drama games thus providing disadvantaged children with a pool of future memories and the possibility of imagining a different way of life.
WORKSHOPS AND GROUP MEETINGS
The two teachers who work with the students in the two locations organize weekly interactive workshops for the students. The activity plans are worked out by the trainer and the educational experts and sent to the teachers who can make slight modifications to adapt them to the needs of the students.
It would be useless to work only with the children, because most of their problems are rooted in their family background and the widespread social exclusion of the Roma. We have to create a safe environment for them by counselling their teachers, families and the local administrators, as well.
In order to create this environment, monthly group meetings are organized for all stakeholders. The meetings are designed by using the Art of Hosting to create a safe background community for the students, but are also important for the schools, because they show an ideal communicative method that can be applied to unite adults for the best interest of the children. During the activities family members do not necessarily join the same group as we intend these meetings to help in building a strong community where adults feel responsible for all the children, not just their own.
The Art of Hosting offers a blend of some of the most powerful methods to create open and meaningful conversation that leads to commitment and good results. It is based on mutual respect, which is essential when dealing with the Roma who are often humiliated by the Hungarian authorities. Working with a range of collaborative methods – like The Way of Council, Appreciative Inquiry, ProAction Café, storytelling and more – the trainers the approach to their context and purpose. Each meeting has a different topic targeting one of the specific objectives (e. g. victimization, gender roles, education, career plans, networking).
The students receive a scholarship at the last week of each month they have successfully participated in the program. Experience in similar projects shows that it is better to give the scholarship towards the end of the month, because by then the socially disadvantaged families typically run out of money, and this relatively small amount can make all the difference. As this source of income will only be available if the child attends the workshops regularly, the family must support the child’s attendance.
TRIPS AND EXCURSIONS
The program also offers a day-long trip to Budapest where the students from Salgótarján and Tiszafüred will meet and get to know each other. One of the group meetings will be an excursion in both locations with a picnic so that the adults can get to know each other in a different, relaxed atmosphere.