The meeting, held on May 20-21, was the opportunity for participants to share information and experience, as well as develop competencies and gain new knowledge.
Martyna Bogaczyk, new President of the Education for Democracy Foundation (EDF), presented the “Region in Transition” Program and changes in the EDF Management Board: Anna Kertyczak was nominated the Vice-President and starting from May, she also took the position of the “RITA” Program Coordinator. Then Renata Koźlicka-Glińska, the Polish-American Freedom Foundation Program Director presented other Eastern programs of PAFF, including the newly established Leaders of Change Foundation that will be the manager of the Lane Kirkland Scholarship Program and “Study Tours to Poland” Program.
In workshop groups, the participants in the meeting presented their projects and shared experiences gained during their implementation. That made an opportunity to meet people involved in similar area of activities, with whom new initiatives can be generated or new methods of working discovered. The Ambassadors also participated in the so-called skill workshops where they learned about tools necessary for project evaluation. They also got to know how to perform needs analysis and discussed the issue of establishing international partnerships.
The first day ended with a scientific accent. Thanks to Robert Szczęsny, expert at promotion of science in the countries of the Region, the participants of the meeting learned about the projects dealing with science popularization and use of experiments in physics, chemistry, mathematics or biology teaching. Robert Szczęsny told them also how education can change and stimulate local communities in Ukraine, Tajikistan or Georgia, thanks to grants from the “RITA” Program. The presentation was supplemented by Anna Woźniak and Ewelina Grądzka, coordinators of “RITA” projects implemented in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, who spoke about their experiences from carrying out science (e.g. astronomy) popularization projects in cooperation with foreign partners.
On the second day of the meeting the participants attended expert workshops – they could select one out of six discussion groups, held at the same time, on situation in selected countries and regions, that is in Ukraine, Crimea, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Central Asia. The discussions were moderated by experts, who also told the participants about the current political, social and economic situation, transformation and challenges in these countries and regions, and answered the questions asked by the participants.
The meeting was also an opportunity to present selected projects subsidized under the “RITA” Program. Thanks to the representatives of the Good Will Foundation, Education Foundation, FERSO Civic Society Education and Development Foundation, and Postcard Cultural Association, the method of oral history documenting, the rules of acquiring volunteers from the European Voluntary Service and experiences gained during animation and cultural activities involving a local community were presented.
The “Region in Transition” (RITA) Program of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, which has been implemented by the Education for Democracy Foundation since 2000, is addressed to NGOs and educational institutions which want to share Polish experience in social and economic transformation with their partners from the East European countries, Caucasus and Central Asia. To date, over 900 projects have been awarded grants under the open grant competitions.