As war rages and wreaks havoc, Europe is more than important these days. That’s why I decided, through Europe day, which took place the 9th May, to highlight it in this article and talk about the positive sides of Europe.
Why Europe day?
Europe day commemorates the day on which the building of the European Union is said to have begun. The purpose is to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historic ‘Schuman declaration’ that set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable.
In what Europe is an opportunity for young people?
As European citizens, we should be aware about the opportunities that Europe brings to us. Unfortunately, I noticed that not enough people know about those.
First one that I had the chance to experience is Interrail. It’s one unique pass that allows people to travel around Europe by train. There are few kinds of passes: a global pass, you can travel whenever you want in a given time (it can be 2 weeks, 1 month…), but also within-country pass to travel in a specific country. If you are 18 years old this year, you have the chance to participate in the contest “Discover EU” where you can win a free pass. Discover EU is an initiative of the European Union which offers young Europeans the opportunity to travel across Europe by train. Funded by the European Parliament, the project aims at supporting 18-year-olds to become more independent, develop soft skills and embrace European values.
Second one I could experience is Erasmus+. You all heard about this program, but you maybe don’t know how much this experience can change your life. Living abroad is an opportunity that everybody should experience once. It allows us to take distance with our everyday life, to make a change, to grow. Because the people you will meet abroad will bring you something different and inspire you. You will not come back the same, but in a positive way. It allows you to express, feel and speak in another language, which in my opinion can help you to reflect on yourself more and open up to people deeper.
European Solidarity Corps
Third one is the European Solidarity Corps, one of the Erasmus+ programs. This is again one experience I am familiar with, and that I am even living right now in Croatia. I think this is the experience that made me grow the most. Because compared to Erasmus, that is the student life, ESC is bringing you responsibilities. You have deadlines, meetings, but it’s actually a great feeling because the projects you will work on are useful and correspond to yourself, to what you want to bring to this world. You will jump totally into a new culture, into a way of life and way of thinking that will mark you forever. And also, an open-minded spirit that you will keep and that will help you in the future.
Last thing I wanted to point out, are the conferences or events financed by the European Union. I have a precise example in mind which is the LEAP Summit that took place from 12th to 13th of May in Zagreb. The motto of this event is “Where changemakers leap into actions”. LEAP Summit is an event with a mission to educate and inspire a future generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, leaders, and trailblazing changemakers. It is a multidisciplinary conference that has influenced more than 10.000 people from 40+ countries over the years. This is just one example among so much great projects that allow young people to get free tickets and have access to a knowledge that they would never have the opportunity to discover if those programs didn’t exist.
All of this allows people and especially young people to have access to diversity. To open their mind, to get another point of view on the world. To open their doors. To make them understand international relations. To make them meet new people from a lot of different backgrounds and horizons.
Why is diversity so important?
Speaking about diversity, “United in diversity” is the motto of the European Union, first came into use in 2000. It signifies how Europeans have come together, in the form of the EU, to work for peace and prosperity, while at the same time being enriched by the continent’s many different cultures, traditions and languages. Those things are precious and preserved by Europe. At least, the purpose should not be that every country looks the same, but more that they all have something unique to bring to others.
And this is the strength of diversity. Diversity is inspiring. The free movement of people allows us to have access to this diversity. We should be more grateful to have this opportunity to discover so many new things in our own territory, that is Europe.
What I learnt by living in the Balkans is that young people are all trying to escape eastern countries, believing that they will have a better life in Western countries. The reality in my opinion is that there are pros and cons everywhere. In a country like Croatia, you will be safe, but you will not have so many opportunities as a student. On the contrary, in France, you will have a lot of opportunities, but you will be less safe. This is all a question of priorities. That’s why I think it’s important to be aware of all the pros and cons about the countries of Europe, to learn but also to make a better choice later in the future. But of course, the system is not perfect. There are many contradictions that are not helping at all poorer countries of Europe, for example taxes.
Peace and unity: what are the solutions?
Peace, because it was achieved as a result of the decades-long collective effort. This was respected until that Putin decided to ruin it, putting his ego above millions of people that are suffering and dying while I am writing those words.
Yes, Ukraine is not in the European Union, but yes Ukraine is in our continent, close, too close. Dino, my colleague that wrote many articles about Europe had this idea to put the strongest and richest countries of Europe into a federation, and push the poorest ones to evolve and improve themselves in order to join it.
I think that what we should do is improve the interconnection between European countries. Erasmus, exchanges and opportunities that I talked about before need to be put into more resources, more money, but mostly more promotions because opportunities are here but not known enough. The goal is to improve the interactions of people, especially youngsters.
To conclude, Europe is powerful, and offers opportunities, peace and diversity to its citizens. But mostly, Europe is also an opportunity for young people to travel, learn, be educated, empowered, and be open-minded. So, check the opportunities and go for it!