Rural development

Internationales Begegnungszentrum St. Marienthal (IBZ) | DERREG


Why is the IBZ a good practice?

1. IBZ tries to make use of its geographic location within the border triangle (the own property is right at the border river) by organizing and stimulating international encounter within the region.

2. focus on elder persons: the experience of WWII has caused latent prejudices among a large share of elder people in Central Europe. The displacement of Germans from Polish and Czech territories as well as from Eastern Poles to Western Poland has left mental traces. IBZ engages in reconciliation activities to develop a mutual understanding among elder people, so that these elder people could teach tolerance to their descendants.

3. focus on youth’ political education: IBZ understands the European Union not only as an economic or top-down political process but also a social one. It teaches European school students political participation and democracy. Children are also invited to discuss how Europe might become their home. A good example is the Trinational Youth Parliament, in which school classes from GER, CZ, and PL learn European decision taking by playing through political mechanisms. They should develop visions for the cross-border region.

4. focus on religion: Given the religious background of the IBZ, it engages in the mutual understanding and reconciliation of different religions and religious groups. Currently, the relations between Muslims and Christian Europeans are a major issue.

5. focus on language and cultural learning: The IBZ initiated a ‘learning region’ called PONTES within the Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa in order to stimulate a trinational educational region. This aims at teaching people the languages of each of the neighbours, but also at facilitating the acknowledgement of educational degrees across borders, or the promotion of intercultural competency.

6. focus on ecological matters: in all its activities, IBZ stresses ecological issues. The IBZ has won several awards for being a sustainable institution and providing transferring relevant knowledge during its own activities and events.

Thus, the IBZ follows an integrated approach, in which several development topics of the region are addressed (cross border location, language, culture, history, legal issues). It also tries to combine the European, the national and the regional level, and to teach people to think the different scales all at once. A strong focus always lies on the encounter and development of mutual understanding between different social groups of the EU.