Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ever dozed off in a history class? Never again!

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AHDR is putting the pedal to the metal and kickstarting their Knowledge Product after over a month of working collaboratively to overcome challenges. That is what happens when you believe in your product from the very first creative brainstorming session – even if it IS over tea – does no one drink coffee anymore?
Check out what they have to say about the overall process!

Learning history can be fun…that’s the message we want to tell our young people.

Over the course of its 10 year history the AHDR has worked hard in producing new approaches to the learning and teaching of history… but never before has it taken the innovative form of what is currently being formulated at Home for Cooperation at this very moment.

It was a quiet afternoon in the autumn of 2012 when this new and exciting initiative was born as Daphne Lappa and Shirin Jetha sat in the AHDR library enjoying a cup of English tea (courtesy of Shirin of course) and one of Daphne’s precious chocolate bars which she kindly offered to share. This is important to note as anyone who knows Daphne well knows she can be quite possessive of her sweets! As Daphne and Shirin sat and reviewed AHDR’s ‘Nicosia is Calling’ booklet (the first education material to be produced by AHDR) they hesitantly shared their thoughts… Yes ‘Nicosia is Calling’ is definitely a positive contribution for young people in terms of learning about the old city but now with the expertise that AHDR has gained, surely more can be done… something new, something that perpetuates the shift from traditional learning and academia…

And this is when Daphne’s and Shirin’s baby was born!  Anyone in the AHDR office during the next month would hear the words “our game” being thrown into any possible conversation.  The enthusiasm was infectious! 

Being aware that we live in a society where people are still afraid to cross over to the “other” side, where prejudices and fear prevails, and children especially are exposed to biased views of the past…. the idea was to create an interactive educational game based on AHDR’s ‘Nicosia is Calling’ publications. The solid idea was to take it further… much further. 

In doing so AHDR could provide a fun and educational platform for children to learn more about the old city of Nicosia without having to rely on their teachers or schools, or even needing to leave their computer!  And how brilliant to think that a child in Morphou and a child in Paphos could be simultaneously learning the common history of Cyprus without limitations.  That these children could understand the truly multicultural past of the city through a fun and interactive platform.

Luckily the Knowledge and Innovation Fund team also felt the same way and when we pitched our idea the project was approved!

What followed was an excitement and eagerness to get the ball rolling.  Interviews were held with game developers and an incredibly creative team in Thessaloniki called Dolphins seemed like the perfect fit.  Having worked on the Balkan Tales and the Twice A Stranger projects and through their creative display of beautiful aesthetics, Daphne and Shirin were won over and Dolphins were selected as the creative partner.

Daphne’s and Shirin’s love of the project was put to the test and the team had to strive to convince person after person that this really is a great idea and should be implemented.  Luckily they found support in the positive energy of Sylvie Manti, Project development Consultant of the Peace-it-Together Network whose presence and sheer motivation was a much needed gift.

Needless to say, perseverance, determination and hard work paid off and the development of the game kicked off… We had delayed one and half months but as they say – all good things are worth waiting for!

Stay tuned to get sneak preview of the game as it develops and find out more about our pilot testing sessions which could give you the opportunity to be one of the first to try out our new and exciting game and help shape the final product!

Shirin Jetha
Projects Coordinator at AHDR

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Swiss Precision and Cypriot impulsiveness meet in Bern

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Through the Practitioners Exchange Program, Peace-it-Together officers become inspired, motivated and refreshed with a visit to the ever-so-disciplined and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking of the SwissPeace team. Ellada Evaggelou lets us in on all the fab details:

On arriving in Switzerland, the Cyprus delegation adopted a steady issue of commentary: how tidy the cities were, how lawful and polite the drivers, and how accommodating the general system seemed to be.  Going around in Bern was a breeze; we felt safe and carried out tasks effortlessly. The whole experience seemed too good to be true, and in veritable Mediterranean spirit, considered creating little snippets of chaos. Not because of malicious intentions, but perhaps we are simply genetically inclined to do so.

We even talked about exchanging our own Centers’ buildings with the gorgeous river-side main offices of SwissPeace in Bern, if such an agreement could be reached.

And then we started talking with our hosts at SwissPeace. In multiple meetings with researchers and practitioners, technocrats and administrators, conversations and exchanges flowed. Buildings and side-walks disappeared from the forefront of our minds, and we slowly realized that the essence of the city and the organization wasn’t the skin-deep analysis we had done thus far… it was their personalities, openness, the depth and severity of their work, their generous nature. Our conversations commenced and continued with the understanding of the vast potential of people coming together to communicate on something we are all passionate about, peace. The NGO-SC and Management Center directors and Knowledge Innovation Officers of the Peace it Together network found a unique opportunity through the Practitioners Exchange Program to converse about product development, innovation and research, collaboration and sustainability.

A heartfelt thanks to Michaela, Anita, Ursula, Andrea, Andreas, Sidonia, Marco, Roland and Matthias for their openness and generosity, with their time, ideas and good spirits. Although I would still like to make a suggestion to commission the making of murals (modeled after Van Gogh’s Sunflowers) on the empty walls outside the NGO SC and Management Centre!

And the winner is…

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The polls are closed and the results are in. Our hub officially has a name!
Check out what Kristy Eliades, one of our communication officers, has to say about the entire process.

“When I first joined the PiT team I found myself often wondering what on earth I could offer. The team talked in abbreviations and I nodded my head pretending I knew what they were talking about for about a minute, and would then get frustrated and ask consistent questions. Surprisingly, this didn’t annoy anyone. Instead it was a source of laughter for the entire team. I had over ten years’ experience in advertising and marketing in the private sector but very little experience in NGO work. Sooner or later however, I learned how to merge my knowledge and gain from the team’s experience in the third sector and by the time we got together to discuss the development of our online hub, I was already abbreviating my ‘work-words’ too.

Branding was the one thing I’ve done before, and possibly a chance for me to feel like a true asset – but I had worked long enough with the Peace-it-Together team, to know that nothing would ever be the way it ‘usually’ is. Not even the brainstorming sessions.

In advertising when the branding process begins account executives fly in and out of the office in a panic, marketing strategists’ research for weeks on end and the creative team usually comes up with the best ideas in the shower – right after the creative meeting is over. It is also a confidential process that usually takes place amongst a team committed to working on their own and in private until the new product is launched.

With PiT the branding process began with casual chit chat amongst the team, sending e-mails asking for feedback from the network officers and collecting an impressive 200+ initial suggestions. The process was all-inclusive from the very beginning, and although it’s not something I’ve ever experienced before, I still got the same buzz I get from any creative session. Everyone had their own gems to add. The creative juices were flowing just as naturally (if not more naturally) than they do at top agencies.

At the final stages we invited all stakeholders including our network partners and the winners from our Knowledge and Innovation fund to a creative brainstorming session where we put up all initial suggestions on the walls and spent the afternoon picking at fruit and cheese and introducing even more new ideas. We then agreed on  five shortlisted names … and opened the voting process to the public!

The five shortlisted suggestions were: CohesionLab, Mahallae, InnovEX, Social Cohesion Lab, ExchangeLab. And as of March 1st the online polls were closed.

The final winner, with a whopping 42.86% is…. (drum roll please)

mahallae

The name was voted for by the general public through surveymonkey and will brand all the network’s online efforts. Mahallae will also be translated into a domain name for the platform which we will be developing by the beginning of summer.

Mahalla (Greek Cypriot) and Mahalle (Turkish) both mean neighbourhoods. We added an ‘ae’ to pluralize the word in Latin and also make it an autonomous (and new) word on its own. For an extended description of the word’s multi-regionality and meaning, check out the wiki description here.

Thanks to the team for involving me in this weirdly honest branding process. This brutally authentic approach to market launching is not something I will be forgetting any time soon!”

Kristy Eliades
Communications Officer
NGO Support Centre