In fall of 2017, 47 Goethe Institutes in Europe came together for a joint project called Freiraum (German for free space). In order to better understand and deepen the local context, each institute chose a partner in its own country. The Goethe Institute in Vilnius invited our association to become a partner in this project, and so we became involved in this international project.
The Freiraum project looked at how freedom is talked about in different European cities. What is the image of freedom when it is discussed by citizens, scientists, and cultural figures? What are the problems in different European cities? In order to understand how differently freedom is perceived in Europe, the project has paired cities in pairs.
Phase 1: What is freedom for us?
In the first phase of the project, we tried to answer the question of what freedom means to us. On 23 September 2017, we organised a workshop “Freedom” at the Goethe Institute. We invited young people to join us and decide for themselves what freedom means to them. The aim of this event was to formulate a specific question that would reflect Lithuania’s relationship with the concept of freedom. The idea that emerged was then visualised in a three-minute film and screened at the International Congress of Goethe Institutes in Warsaw.
The workshop was attended by four invited guests: Berta Tilmantaitė (journalist, photographer, lecturer and one of the Nanook Multimedia co-founders), Marius Repšys (film and theatre actor, awarded the Golden Cross), Jonas Ohman (Swedish translator, journalist and founder of the Blue/Yellow organisation) and Marius Povilas Elijus Martynenko (poet and writer, who has promoted Lithuania in European Slam Championships).
From the left: Elijas, Berta ir Marius.
During the workshop, discussions focused on freedom of education, accessibility and opportunities after graduating school.
A few moments from the workshop:
The ideas expressed in the workshop can also be heard in this video:
Phase 2: Vilnius and Bucharest
At a meeting of all the partners involved in the project in Warsaw on 4-6 December 2017, our association was fortuitously brought together with the Institute of Political Science at the University of Bucharest.
The topic addressed in Bucharest was related to tolerance and freedom of expression in society.
As many as eleven members of the association travelled to Romania to deepen their knowledge on this topic, to spread the ideas of tolerance and to try to solve these problems from an international perspective.
In Bucharest, our team met with the staff of the Goethe Institute in Romania, who helped us to gain a deeper understanding of what tolerance means in Romanian society.
From the left: Auksė Bruverienė (then Coordinator of Cultural Programmes at the Goethe Institute), Emilė Paskočimaitė (member of the Board of TJDAA) and Elena Kloppmann (intern at the Goethe Institute and organiser of the Freiraum project in Lithuania)
Moments from the Bucharest meeting:
A day later, our team started its journey to Timisoara, where our association took part in the PLAI Festival of Ideas. We had a stand at the festival where we organised discussions, workshops and invited people to talk about tolerance. We invited the youngest participants of the festival to create handicrafts that would reflect their sense of tolerance.
Participating in the Freiraum project gave us the opportunity not only to understand more about Romanian society, but also to turn to the Lithuanian context with even more questions and more experience.