Evolution of The MitOst’s Strategy

Darius Polok

The MitOst was founded in 1996. I would say that for the first ten years until 2006 it was a network of German speaking young activists in Germany and Central Eastern Europe. So we had members from Slovakia but those members were coming from the universities where they learned German. And the language connecting us was German. This was kind of normal at that time as German language was at that time let’s say a second language communicated beside English. And it was kind a normal development for us. And I think this was also unique element of The MitOst. We were German speaking activists network all around Eastern Central Europe. And it was a part of our identity. 

Now for the younger generation German is not the communication language anymore. We are doing projects in other areas and we are doing projects in English and Russian in Ukraine and Russia. So we changed our strategy and right now it is not the language anymore. It is also not a geographic area. Right now we have the two main aims. On the one side it is the aim of supporting civil society and supporting citizenship education and on the other side it is the cultural exchange in Europe and with the neighboring regions. Based on our experience of developing innovative formats for education and also for the connection of activists I would say that right now we see us as a kind of intermediator between the activists very often small-scale NGOs and on the other side private foundations and also public bodies. In some cases like for example in Easter and Central Europe but also in Turkey we are working with the federal ministries where they support our programmes. 

Let’s take one example from Russia. We were working in the region of Perm with one of the programme called Citizenship Activity Everyday. Each year we have around 50 participants in the programme. We train them in project management and in doing small-scale projects. And here the regional administration of the Perm region is supporting this programme as our partner. So we are looking very directly for a partnership with the public administration. We think that in moment when we get this public administration on board and they are convinced of the programme the sustainability of the programme is in a way saved or it is possible. In some other cases there are the private foundations and in other cases there are also other NGOs and we are applying together for some money. So the relation to these parties is very different. In some cases we are giving them advices, we are supporting them in developing programmes. In some cases they are partners. And in some cases we are applying for money and they are just supporting our activities with money.

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Darius Polok

Darius Polok

Director of MitOst in Berlin, Germany

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