[xmca] Some words about Hi Neighbor

From: Lois Holzman (lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org)
Date: Wed Dec 07 2005 - 06:29:00 PST

Vesna Ognjenovic, who leads the organization Hi Neighbor (Zdrava da Ste),
will be talking with us soon. Meanwhile, I'm pasting in some description of
their philosophy and activities so people can get a sense of the conception
of development that they work with. I hope this gives us something to chew


Zdravo Da Ste/Hi Neighbour (http://www.zdravodaste.org.yu
<http://www.zdravodaste.org.yu/> )
Zdravo Da Ste/Hi Neighbour is local, non-governmental, non-profit
organization officially registered in 1994. The Programme was initiated by a
group of volunteer developmental psychologists from Belgrade in 1992, and
during the following years expanded to a network of psychologists,
educators, social workers and others covering 24 municipalities in Serbia.

Workshop activities began in January 1992 in the collective centers for
refugees in Pionirski grad in Belgrade, and in the collective center of the
Red Cross in Bogovadja, where people from war-affected areas from former
Yugoslavia were settled. In the beginning, the Programme focused on people
in collective centers; since 1997, the Programme has included refugees
living in private accommodations, and in summer 1999, internally displaced
people from Kosovo and Metohia.
After NATO bombardment of Serbia in 1999, the Programme for Children and
Youth included a new alternative pattern of activities. This Child and
Culture Programme centered on building relations with cultural resources and
reached the children from primary schools in Belgrade region. From October
2000 the Hi Neighbour (HN) Programme for school children started to be
performed in primary schools in Serbia. In the beginning of 2002, the HN
Programme for Preschool Children was officially accepted by the Ministry of
Education and has been expanding to the preschool institutions in Serbia.
The Hi Neighbour Global Approach is an alternative based on original ideas
of Lev Vigotsky:
€ Human development is an endless process
€ HN Programme is process oriented, not outcome oriented
€ HN Programme is strongly connected with actual life
€ Workshops are an interactive source for development
Human development is an endless process
Development is not specifically related to the childhood period. The human
being is in a lifelong process of development. Development lasts from the
birth until the death of a person. Moreover, development existed before and
will last beyond these points through group activities.
Human development is process oriented, not outcome oriented
Today in use, most workshops are structured according to goals given in
advance and are oriented toward expected outcomes. In Hi Neighbour any
group interactive process is considered potentially developmental and the
workshop provides a framework for group activities which could, but
sometimes do not, occur within the framework. The openness for unpredicted
and unexpected events is built into this framework. In short, the workshop
is an open, divergent activity in which the facilitator is not a leader.
For HN human development is a process lasting through the whole lifetime.
All participants are partners in joint activities, regardless of their
gender, age, social or psychological status.
In order to build activities aiming at supporting and promoting development,
HN has constructed the overall programme activities based on a
process-oriented model. The general framework of the programme activities
does not require a particular outcome. The children and adults are
respected, active and creative participants.
HN Programme is strongly connected with actual life
Life space is seen as a common space and the basic source of further
development is seen through building relations - between people through
words, between people through expressions, and new games/plays, between
people through activities, between people through culture. In these ways, in
common creation, we were all using what we have, and also what hasn¹t been
seen before, as a possible source of human development.
The boundary between the workshop situation and everyday activities is not
strict. The workshop is incorporated in every day life. There is no
particular final point for workshop processes since they are going to be
continued after a workshop is over. The workshop is running in reality in
schools, common rooms, collective centers, public institutions and other
places where everyday life is going on.
Workshops as an interactive source of development
>From the HN methodological point of view, the workshop is a form of activity
in which every participant is inseparable from the group activities and is
actively working and learning through that experience. The main activity is
exchange within a circle - every participant is contributing to the group
process. This gives an opportunity to each participant to create a social
event using various expressive modalities. It also prevents the situation of
focused dyadic interaction in which some members are favored while others
are passive. It prevents making small and favored circles within the
existing circle. Exchange in a circle emphasizes the equality of all
During workshops participants express themselves through various modalities:
using words, voices, songs, performances, drawings, painting and movements .
It was evident from workshop reports (made by participants or recorded on
tape) that children and teachers, people of different ages, genders, and
backgrounds manifested a great capacity for group creation. We believe that
subtle social processes are reflected through products - stories, drawings,
songs, poems, drama plays - individually and jointly created.
Facts about Hi Neighbour / Zdravo da ste
€ Non-governmental and non-profit organization
€ Founded 1992, officially registered 1994
€ Founded by a group of developmental psychologists from Belgrade
€ Activities aimed at protecting and promoting development during war and
post-war crisis
€ Provides support in building social communities
€ Serves 25,000 beneficiaries from ages 0 ­ 90 years annually
€ 110 members in 16 teams, including professionals in the educational and
social work fields, as well as designers, engineers, artists, and scientists
€ Reaches a wide range of vulnerable groups
€ Activities include psychosocial support, cultural and social integration,
training & skill development, income generating programmes, summer and
winter camps, exhibitions, humanitarian interventions, ethno programmes, and
intercultural exchange

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