Updates: "Promoting Positive Images through the Media" project expands.
First examined in ONE COUNTRY 10.3, a Bahá'í project to heal ethnic tensions in southeastern Europe is further taking root.
"Promoting positive messages through the media: the Happy Hippo Show" of the Royaumont Process is taking root in several European countries, while receiving the backing of public figures. Most important among the project's successes have been the adoption by the Ministry of the Education in Romania of pilot programmes in three schools in Bucharest during the current school year, and the cultivation of excellent relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina government officials. The content of the shows were also widened after input from Bahá'í specialists: Hossein and Roshan Danesh, who gave a workshop on conflict resolution. Three seminars have been held since the last Bulletin report, in Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia. And in other countries, the HHS continues to prompt discussion and similar ideas. An international seminar for the countries so far involved - Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania and Slovenia - is planned for the end of October in Romania.
Contact with representatives of the Ministry of Education in Romania led to the inclusion of the Happy Hippo Show in school curricula. Bahá'ís also met with the National Press Agency and a representative of both the External Affairs Ministry and the Community of Independent States, Calin Stoica, who asked to be part of the international seminar. He also said he would discuss the project with the Romanian parliament. A Romanian demo show was held on 18 September, where the Royaumont Process, the Bahá'í International Community and UNICEF were introduced. The show was attended by enthusiasts from the government, media and education. Television stations, in particular two local television stations outside the capital, have been receptive to the HHS. Participants of the Bulgarian seminar have produced a video, a puppet theatre and a newspaper column on drug abuse. Television stations in Bulgaria were also interested, with a popular talk show host committing herself to co-hosting two pilot shows soon.
Implementing the HHS has provided occasions for building relationships with Bosnian high ranking officials, including the Minister of Education, Culture, Science, Sports and Communication, his deputy and the Bosnian Ambassador to France. During a mission to France in early September, the Bosnian delegation attended a dinner at the home of a member of BIC-OPI, Paris. This was the result of a one week trip to different entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina by an official of the government of Luxembourg accompanied by a representative of OPI Paris during which over 60 personalities had been visited.
The Bosnian seminar was held from 19 to 26 September with 21 participants from the media, the education sector and NGOs. An opening dinner was attended by participants and officials, including the Minister of Education. A press conference was also organised during the seminar, attended by over a dozen members of the media and the country's 5 television stations, all of which covered the opening of the seminar in their evening news programmes. Sarajevo's main independent station also interviewed the Luxembourg Ambassador Ronald Mayer, Dr. Hossein Danesh and a representative of OPI Paris and the rehearsal of the demo show was broadcast with an interview of Shamil Fattakhov on the national TV news programme.
The latest seminar, held in Macedonia from 27 September, was oversubscribed, with twice as many applicants as available places. More details on the upcoming international seminar are being sent to the National Spiritual Assemblies concerned.