History / Background
HERMES is a non-governmental organization that was founded by a couple of idealists with a background in formalized, competitive debate, youth work and social activism. The organization was founded with the desire to provide others with a chance to enhance their communication skills, with the goal of applying them to concrete life situations and challenges. To know how to communicate with the Other means understanding the Other – a deeper understanding among ourselves is a way of improving the world. HERMES is the (Croatian language) acronym for the Croatian Education and Development Network for the Evolution of Communication. Our NGO is therefore the namesake of Ἑρμῆς (Hermes), the Greek god of communication, a messenger and connector of worlds.
Our non-governmental association was officially founded in December 2011, and our first big goal was to bring the “Anne Frank – History for Today” traveling exhibition to Croatia. We were successful in our intentions shortly thereafter, as the European Union and the Dutch embassy in Croatia provided support for our project “History for Understanding: Reflection on Prejudice and Promoting Fundamental Human Rights through Debate and Dialogue.” Between 2012 – 2014, the Anne Frank exhibition was produced in the Croatian language, accompanied with Croatian history panels dealing with the child victims of the Holocaust in Croatia as well as child victims of the 1990s Homeland war. The exhibition visited the 4 biggest cities in Croatia (Zagreb, Rijeka, Split and Osijek) with ~6,000 student visitors being guided through the exhibition by their peers.
This nation-wide engagement soon expanded through wide-reaching regional cooperation, such as the Model International Criminal Court Western Balkans (MICCWeB) educational program (initiated in 2013) or the ‘Historija, Istorija, Povijest – Lessons for Today’ project (2014 – 2017). Along with the Model European Union Zagreb – MEUZ (launched in 2013, with 6 consecutive editions lasting until 2018), the hallmark of HERMES work have been participant-driven, longer-term educational initiatives and programs. We hope that our existing and future engagements will continue to evolve in similar organic fashion.
For the first several years of its existence, HERMES operated without an office and was managed by a team of volunteers. Today, we are happy to be officemates with one of Croatia’s most active NGOs in the domain of human rights, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights. We still operate through largely volunteer management work, with much of the training and project-coordination work falling on the shoulders of our experienced team of affiliated freelance experts.