Re: [xmca] Some words about Hi Neighbor

From: Lois Holzman (
Date: Mon Dec 19 2005 - 18:43:40 PST

I think Vesna has given us a lot to respond to and I sincerely thank you,
Vesna, for taking the time. One of the many things that inspires and
impresses me about the activities of Hi Neighbor is what you refer to by
saying "it is open" and "Through common activities, wherein the obstacles
put by traditional social roles and labels vanish the human exchange occurs
in a genuine way and enormous capacity for learning for development becomes
transparent." I have a sense of what you mean, both because I have had the
privilege of participating many times and because my own work shares these
characteristics. However, I wonder what meaning others might be making...


> From: "zdravo" <zdravo@EUnet.yu>
> Reply-To: zdravo <zdravo@EUnet.yu>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
> <>
> Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 23:46:35 +0100
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Some words about Hi Neighbor
> Dear Ana, Lois, Linka, Volker
> Two weeks ago we sent sentences and Lois and Ana invited us to tell
> something about our activities through which they were created by youth. It
> was not quite easy to join conversation that goes in many directions but
> diversity is good opportunity. Well, let me try to say something about our
> work based on ideas of Lev Vygotsky and to make short story out of pretty
> long history of our work.
> War in former Yugoslavia started in 1992, the only sources we could rely on
> in those difficult times were the inner sources, inner strength, that is,
> what was available then. A spark, but strongly motivating spark, we only
> found it in the work of Lev Vygotsky.
> His socio/cultural approach is a powerful source for building common and
> constructive response to "drama of life" /the expression of Anna S. / . The
> interactive field becomes common space of general exchange between age
> groups, between different people, and that is where remarkable potential
> lies. The center-margin relation is rendered highly relative and whatever
> turns out along the way is a joint activity. What is really happening
> and how does it look like, in the very circle? It is limited neither by the
> number of people nor by a strictly defined target group. It is open. We
> started by using all modes of human expression. What was happening, what it
> was like in practice, is this: participants dealt with tasks that displaced
> them from everyday reality; but not in a way of escaping from it, but of
> living in it in a richer and more human way. So words for example, were made
> free from their conventional, everyday communication. And thus freed they
> won the freedom of producing and building more and more new stories. But the
> stories are not all that came out, it was tremendously important to keep
> integrated the entire potential each of us carries. We do not favor one mode
> of expression along that single line, but all possibilities were kept
> wherein interactive frame.
> Our activities were marked by Vygotskian orientation. We were keen on
> meeting people sharing this orientation. The closest connection we found
> with East-Side Institute for Social Therapy in New York. What we got from
> this community? We got a possibility to transform our existing activities
> into new, a different form of activity - performance. Owing to our encounter
> with them things that are happening now are related to our challenging
> meeting.
> At this point, we wish to return to the youth sentences and pay attention to
> the history of this creation and to look upon it once again. Our practice
> built within social space strongly contested by war and conflicts taught us
> about life as we live it, or to say it more precisely it taught us about
> social sources of life. Through common activities, wherein the obstacles put
> by traditional social roles and labels vanish the human exchange occurs in
> a genuine way and enormous capacity for learning for development becomes
> transparent. Majority of these young refugee people participated in Zdravo
> da ste programme since their childhood and their creative participation does
> not represent their life experience - it is their life experience.
> It seems to me that there is not the proper time for our inclusion, but
> better ever than never. Vesna
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