Date of Implementation: 2011 – Ongoing
Supported by: National Endowment for Democracy, Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union, UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), BMW Group, Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo, and The European Commission’s Education, Audiovisual, and Cultural Executive Agency (EACEA), Robert Bosch Stiftung
“Ordinary Heroes” comprises a series of reconciliation-focused educational and creative multimedia activities in towns and cities throughout BiH and the greater Balkans region. The project’s primary activities include: 1) multi-ethnic, contact-based “Heroes in Training” participatory youth sessions; 2) Ordinary Heroes Multimedia Festivals; 3) the Srđan Aleksić Youth Competition and; 4) the development of the Ordinary Heroes Digital Archive.
Heroes in training
The “Heroes in Training” youth sessions are designed to help youth participants understand the psychological processes that take place at an individual level as well as the external influences and factors that contribute to one’s choice to act as a rescuer, bystander, or perpetrator. PCRC has organized sessions for more than 5,000 youth in municipalities across BiH, the Balkans and internationally.
In addition to the Heroes in Training participatory youth sessions, PCRC the “Srđan Aleksić Youth Competition” which gives young people the chance to discover, collect, and share stories of peacebuilding, moral courage, and inter-ethnic cooperation from their communities. PCRC aims to inspire Bosnian youth by encouraging them to take an active role in the promotion of positive examples of Bosnian citizens who are making a difference in the lives of others.
These types of projects are important because they strive to raise the awareness among the young people who will one day run this country and determine its future. Stories such as these show that people have always been people, above all else, regardless of their national, ethnic, religious, or other identities.
Over the past year, PCRC has been incorporating social media and digital approaches into its Ordinary Heroes Peacebuilding Program. Given the now-ubiquitous nature of social media, we deemed it essential to adapt “Ordinary Heroes” into spaces of online interaction and merged methods of preventing and countering violent extremism (PVE/CVE) with the pro-social messages and lessons of “Ordinary Heroes.” The social media components of “Ordinary Heroes” have primarily been implemented through our work with the Resonant Voices Initiative and the “Using Social Media to Counter Violent Extremism Online” training and mentorship program.
Since 2021, lessons and stories from the Ordinary Heroes project are included in the teaching manual on “Holocaust & Peace – Lessons from the Past for the Future” for teachers and educators in BiH and Western Balkans.