Story

Promoting Collective Memory and Heritage through Gaming – the Story of Yoldez

Yoldez is a young Tunisian architect specialized in cultural heritage management and historic preservation. She has always been involved in various civil society organizations working on the safeguard of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in Tunisia and in the MENA region. In 2015, she joined "Sousse Demain", an NGO aiming at restoring and preserving the Old Medina of Sousse. Though the Medina is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, it remains endangered by the threats of urban sprawl and violent extremism. 
By encouraging the protection of shared heritage and collective memory, we foster dialogue, support diversity in different communities and enhance mutual understanding, which in turn creates peaceful societies.
Yoldez Halleb, Tunisia

"Sousse is a popular migration hub. People from all over the country are moving to this coastal city looking for a better life. Unfortunately, the reality is different: they face social stigma, deplorable living conditions and a lack of sense of belonging. This pandemic was an unfortunate addition to the existing struggles of the people of the medina of Sousse, who observed a significant increase of violence. This notably nurtured young people’s distress, as they also experience a problem of reconciliation with their past, divided between culture, politics and religion.

As I was looking for innovative peacebuilding solutions to regenerate the city and keep its youth away from violence, I decided to create an educational game together with my organization and with the support of UNESCO and UNOCT joint project on the prevention of violent extremism. "MediWander" is a digital game that takes a creative, technological approach to promote the Medina’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage among secondary and high school students. Since it is challenging to motivate youth to find greater interest in heritage and to introduce them to the fascinating history of their medina, our game is designed to make heritage an appealing and youth-friendly topic. Ultimately, the objective is to gain knowledge and skills to engage in peacebuilding efforts through solidarity and respect for diversity, education, critical thinking, dialogue, engagement and action.

Collective memory and heritage constitute the identity of a people. Beyond monuments, documents and landscapes, it is a tool to build peace and resilient societies, where there is greater tolerance. Heritage is a multi-faceted tool, it is a great economic source for the community revitalization and, beyond that, if we offer people a better access to their own heritage, we allow them to value their culture and foster their identity. By encouraging the protection of shared heritage and collective memory, we also foster dialogue, support diversity and enhance mutual understanding, which in turn creates peaceful societies.

This unique experience motivated me to expand these kind of innovative initiatives at a global level. Recently, I have moved to Antigua, Guatemala, to start the CERPA project with Ms. Ana Lucía González Muñoz. CERPA is a great example of the role of Heritage in peacebuilding, promoting the rescue of intangible heritage through the conservation of ancestral techniques. We want to ensure the transmission of these techniques within people from different communities and backgrounds (students, priests, Mayan spiritual guides, artists, etc.) to foster social bonding and dialogue.  We are designing a project for kids entitled “Heritage from around the world” to transmit specific tangible techniques such as making roman mosaics or Mayan pottery through workshops and educational short courses. This project aims to introduce kids to cultures from all over the world, teach them tolerance and respect for diversity, while playing and making art."

- Yoldez Halleb

 

The virtual mobile game MediWander was developed to attract and sensitize youth of Tunisia to discover the richness of their heritage by providing an interactive alternative to the classic tour-guides of the Medina of Sousse, in English and in Arabic. The game takes advantage of the city’s rich history and its numerous sites to offer the player a highly engaging and educational experience.

Learn more about Yoldez’s initiative here. 

Download the mobile application / game here.
 

Following the success of the Arab World Heritage Young Professionals Forum, and continuing their sense of engagement and purpose beyond the participation in the Forum, five young professionals implemented follow-up projects in the region, making heritage accessible to all, and leveraging it as a channel for peacebuilding in the communities. Through these projects, the participants put to practice the skills acquired during the Forum, particularly through the communication approaches, and took concrete actions towards the recommendations made by them in the Action Plan for the region.