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Historical Archives of the European Union

Memory and continuity: Students create exhibit on Greece’s accession to the EU

Greek middle school students in the HAEU’s education programme applied historical methods to create a multi-media exhibit on their country’s accession to the European Union. The HAEU education team has made elements of this exhibit available online.

05 September 2022

HAEU_Greek exhibit_education

What does it mean to be European?

To answer that question, young Greek participants in the education programme of the HAEU spent the last academic year learning about and conducting historical research on Greece’s accession to and membership in the European Union.

The middle schoolers, who attend the Zanneio Model Junior High School in Piraeus, Greece, participated in a series of workshops, conducted oral history interviews, wrote texts, created works of art, and eventually produced an exhibition for display at their school.

HAEU educators Veronica Chincoli and Leslie Hernández Nova, along with the students’ English teachers Sophia Kitsou and Angeliki Papageorgiou; their art teacher Efstathia Angeli; and their Modern Greek and History teacher Konstantina Tsagkridou guided this intensive learning experience on history and memory.

A critical dialogue between past and present

As project coordinator Sophia Kitsou reminds us, the young adolescents involved in the project were born long after Greece’s accession, and have no personal recollection of war or of any of the major tensions between Greece and the EU, such as the economic crisis of 2008/09.

Thus, the HAEU educational programme presented an interesting opportunity for students to develop a more nuanced, and even critical understanding of the history of Greece’s membership. Especially effective was the programme’s concentration on oral sources, whereby students learned techniques to interview members of their family and community about their thoughts and recollections of Greek accession.

Interviews, explains Sophia, teach students ‘not only what people did, what they saw and what happened to them, but also what people thought and felt at the time, what they believed was happening and why, what they assumed other people were doing and why, what they wanted to do, and (equally important) what they now think they did or actually happened’.

In addition, collecting oral evidence was an occasion to develop the students’ critical thinking and analytical skills: they had to select information, cross-check it, look for bias, and handle contradictions and incomplete accounts.

‘The students gained insight into the multifaceted relationship between Greece and Europe and got engaged in a critical dialogue between the present and memories of the past’, she expressed.

Communicating knowledge

In the final part of the educational project, the students’ work in history, Greek, art and English culminated in the curation of an historical exhibit at their school on Greece’s membership in the EU.

In Sophia’s words, the exhibition ‘had it all’. Not surprisingly, these young people successfully interwove traditional elements such as archival sources, objects, texts, images and art with the kinds of interactive elements that one now expects of a museum or archives, such as QR codes linking to audio or video. For Sophia, embracing digital technologies aroused curiosity and captivated the young viewers’ interest.

In conclusion, Sophia remarks on the important impact the exhibition had on the students. ‘It put them on center stage and made all of the students at the school understand that they are capable of producing high-quality work. […] It gives schooling a purpose and it means that students’ ideas, perspectives and views are heard and taken into account.’

The HAEU is happy to make extracts from the students’ exhibition project available online.


For this article, the HAEU thanks Sophia Kitsou for contributing her written description of the project, which is planned for publication in La Rivista dei Ragazzi MCM-La Storia delle Cose

Feature Image: ‘Euro box. Together we save, together we spend’ by Irena Drosou

Last update: 05 September 2022

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