Reflections on Med Culture Regional Workshop (Wesam Mohamed, ITP 2015)

Written by Wesam Mohamed, Museums and Heritage Specialist, Library of Alexandria (ITP 2015, Egypt)

In October 2018 I went to Amman, Jordan to participate in the regional workshop organized by Med Culture Supporting resilient communities in raising awareness on cultural heritage values and citizenship engagement. The workshop aimed to promote a process where local communities start taking responsibility for their own heritage assets. It was designed to look into the potential for cultural heritage to encourage participation, integration and cohesion in society and to provide a better understanding of the notions of citizen engagement and education in heritage, as well as useful and inspiring approaches to these issues.

Med Culture is a 5-year (2014-2018) regional programme funded by the European Union to accompany partner countries in the south of the Mediterranean in the development and improvement of cultural policies and practices related to the culture sector.

The workshop aimed to engage cultural operators and activists working in related fields – human rights, gender, etc – to become professional trainers of trainers, leaders and advocates for culture. The participants came from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. The aim was to increase the pool of professional trainers in the region and enhance their skills through acquiring new methodologies and tools. The workshop explored issues of diversity and identity, interpretation and representation, hidden stories and how they empower people to see the environment around them and the development of advocacy and awareness campaigns and their impact on their communities.

Thanks to Med Culture, this was my first visit to an Arab country. I am really grateful for this opportunity to be more engaged with the heritage of the Arab world and to connect with Arab colleagues from different countries. From the very first moment we had a feeling that we were long-time friends. The participatory approach of the workshop supported our engagement with the programme’s objectives.

With the participation of Elena Mamani from Cultural Heritage without Borders, Albania, we could learn about cultural heritage case studies from the Western Balkans and the challenges they face to preserve their heritage. We continued working on interpretation theories and practice with the Museum and Heritage Consultant Diana Walters from Diana Walters Ltd, UK. We learned a lot from Diana’s long experience in the field and from all the group work activities under her guidance.

We had a visit to Amman Citadel which is a historical site at the center of downtown Amman. It is one of the seven mountains that originally made up Amman and it was inhabited by different cultures from the Neolithic period until the time of the Umayyads. After the visit we had to present in groups about ideas for enhancing the interpretation of the site and its components. My group chose Augmented Reality applications to promote the interpretation of the remains of the Umayyad Palace.

I was glad to meet Hiba Aboulhosn, Med Culture Communications and Networking Expert and Christiane Dabdoub, Med Culture Programme Team Leader who gave a wonderful session about advocacy and organising campaigns. It was also a nice opportunity to meet Jasmine Andreaus, Med Culture Event Coordinator, who supported our participation in the workshop in many ways. It was also great to meet Izz Al-jabari from Life Skillscenter for Human Development who was our ‘energizer’!

Wesam Mohamed