AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Tue, 17 Jan 2017 11:01:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.5 Open Call for Hosting Locals for EoT4 /open-call-for-hosting-locals-for-eot4/ Tue, 03 Jan 2017 12:12:05 +0000 /?p=6999 Dear AEGEE members,

Wishing you a happy New Year, we are presenting you an open call for hosting the 4th edition of Europe on Track

If you haven’t heard about us yet, here is a short description:

Europe on Track (EoT) is a youth-led project in which 6 ambassadors in 2 teams cross Europe (along 2 different routes) with InterRail passes for one month to inform and interview young people about their visions of a future Europe in relation to different topics.

At each stop, the ambassadors organize and participate in local events, generating content and creating spaces for dialogue and discussion. The journey can be followed on social media via blogs, videos and photos. At the end of the trip, a documentary and quantitative and qualitative data analysis will be created as a recap.

How can you and your local get involved?

If you are interested in being one of the Ambassadors, check the call here!

Your local can apply to be a hosting antenna, which would involve organising a local event where the ambassadors can present the project to a wider audience.

Imagine a one day AEGEE event with a group of 20-30 people (or more!), some sessions and discussions, interactive games, and an event that is also open to non-AEGEEans in your city. The EoT project team will fully support the locals and provide a toolkit on how to organise your perfect EoT event.

This year’s topic for Europe on Track will be Civic Education.

The hosting local is required to:

  • Support the ambassadors by providing them with accommodation and meals for one or two nights

  • Arrange a place/room for the presentation/discussions and print materials

  • Organise a local event/activity* – in cooperation with the EoT Coordination Team

    *Possible options:
    The more you manage to organise the better!

  • Workshop

  • Signature collection for the ECI

  • Ambassadors delivering civic education classes in high schools

  • Visit another NGO or local media

  • Panel discussion with stakeholders/externals (teachers, politicians…)

  • Any other interesting idea that you might come up with!

Unfortunately, as things stand right now, there will be no economic support for the locals but we have and are working really hard on fundraising, should we be successful we will communicate that to the chosen locals.

To apply please send the motivation letter of your antenna to europeontrack@aegee.org until the 10th of February.

Europeanly yours,

The Europe on Track project team
Nicola, Maria, Tola, Luca, Hector, Denno, Eleanor, Sofia, Benedetto, Ksenia, Alp, Luka

]]> Open Call for Ambassadors for the 2017 edition! /open-call-for-ambassadors-for-the-2017-edition/ Mon, 02 Jan 2017 09:11:04 +0000 /?p=6992 Have you ever wished to just drop everything and jump on a train? Are you passionate about society and eager to explore other countries to find out what people actually think?

Then keep reading about this once in a lifetime opportunity!

AEGEE, one of the biggest european student organizations, is looking for 6 young, enthusiastic and proactive people willing to go on a one-month adventure across Europe. In collaboration with InterRail and the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘More than Education’(ECI), the Ambassadors will enquire about the current status of civic education in the different countries they are going to visit and address, through discussions and workshops, young people’s realities, aspirations and visions for the future of Europe.

The trip will start after a kick-off conference in Budapest taking place from the 21st to the 23rd of April, organised in collaboration with AEGEE-Budapest, the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri and the Civic Education Working Group. The journey will finish on the 23d of May at Agora Enschede 2017.

Practical info:

There will be two teams travelling through two different routes, each of them will be composed of a writer/interviewer, a photographer and a videomaker.

Requirements to be eligible to apply:

  • being between 18 and 30 years old, as of April 17, 2017;
  • being active in a (international) student organization or non-profit organisation with a civic education-related mission;
  • feeling strong ties to Europe;
  • being able to talk and work with people of different ages and cultures;
  • have consistent travel experience and an international mindset;
  • being responsible and reliable;
  • have a can-do and up-for-anything attitude;
  • being resistant to stress and physical fatigue;
  • being able to take initiative;
  • have an open mind!

Expected tasks:

  • administer quantitative questionnaires and conduct and record qualitative interviews;
  • deliver workshops;
  • increase people’s awareness on the importance of civic education and how to improve its current state;
  • promote the ‘More than Education’ ECI by collecting signatures;

You will find additional information and the requirements for the specific positions in the following form:

APPLY HERE by the 3rd of Feburary!

For any questions do not hesitate in contacting us at europeontrack@aegee.org or through the Facebook page.

europeontrack

 

 

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Europe on Track is back! /europe-on-track-is-back-2/ Fri, 30 Dec 2016 09:45:16 +0000 /?p=6990 Dear AEGEEans,

Since you ratified us as an official AEGEE-Europe project at Agora Bergamo 2016, we are working really hard to organise a fantastic 4th edition of Europe on Track. Now we will announce dates and topic of EoT4 and later this week we will launch the open call for both hosting antennas and travel ambassadors.

First of all, we are pleased to announce that, in collaboration with AEGEE-Budapest and the Civic Education Working Group, we are the winners of the Franck Biancheri Award. This means that we will be opening EoT4 with a conference in Budapest from April 21-23 and from there the ambassadors will start their race through Europe on-rail for a month until we wave the finishing flag at Agora Enschede on May 23

The topic of EoT4 will be Civic Education and we will collaborate with the the Civic Education Working Group and the European Citizens’ Initiative “More than Education”.

Why Civic Education?
Civic Education is learning the competencies, i.e. skills, knowledge and attitudes, required to be an active, democratic and responsible citizen. Its ultimate goal is to educate the population on democratic citizenship and make them aware of their rights and responsibilities.Civic Education aims at fostering a culture of active participation and responsibility among citizens.

We believe Civic Education is important because in a democracy we are supposed to hold the decision makers accountable, however we are not adequately trained to do so. This leaves the citizens with a lack of understanding, and subsequently a lack of democratic control and appreciation. Civic Education is one of the most important learning tools at our disposal, as it allows people to become informed and independent individuals in society. It is an education based on critical thinking, democratic participation and a common understanding of certain values and principles

EoT4 aims to understand what civic education and civic responsibility mean to you. This in turn will help AEGEE to understand how to reach out to people in order to build an active citizenship.

Why else is this important for us?
We want to empower young people to fight for better Civic Education in their countries. Moreover, one of the aims of the current Strategic Plan is to put Civic Education on the political agenda on all levels and this is not a goal of one working group but of AEGEE as a whole. We believe Europe on Track can make this happen. Lastly, we would like to send the ambassadors to high schools as well, wherever possible, in order to increase the impact of the project and ensure broader reach of our message.

Happy holidays and we look forward to working with you in 2017!
Europe on Track team

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For the first time in history: AEGEE Agora in Chisinau, Moldova /for-the-first-time-in-history-aegee-agora-in-chisinau-moldova/ Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:49:36 +0000 /?p=6885 The AEGEE Agora is the space to inspire the new generation of our members and to reconnect more experienced ones. A 5-days event filled with knowledge and cultural exchange put into practice, with over 700 people travelling to Chisinau, Moldova between 11-16th October.

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In times, when all European eyes are questioning the ideological and political nature of the European project and the discourses are focusing largely on internal matters of the EU and Brexit; AEGEE travelled outside the European Union to hold the general assembly and to discover the local reality of Moldova, a frontrunner of the EU Eastern Partnership programme.

The general assembly started on the 11th October with the ‘Perspectives and Prospects: from Eastern Partnership to EU’ Youth Conference. The event received the support of the New Narratives for Europe project of the European Commission, enabling the participants of the event to reflect on the European dimension of local discourses and exchanges. The youth of Moldova feels belonging to Europe and are wishful towards the future cooperation possibilities with other European countries.

Session about Eastern Partnership - led by AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project!

Session about Eastern Partnership – led by AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project!

Besides the general assembly of the organisation, the participants of the AEGEE Agora also got a chance to gain insight into the current social and political situation of Moldova. With the upcoming presidential elections at the end of October, with a divided society caught between pro-Russian and pro-European sentiments, with extreme rate of poverty and unmeployment, and the country’s concerning future prospects, the youth of Moldova is facing challenging times ahead.

The international participants also had the chance to reflect more on a local context very different from their own and this also supported the thematic discussions within AEGEE. Among many items on the agenda of the general assembly, the future thematic focuses of the organisations have also been defined for the next three years.

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Session with guest speaker: board member of the European Youth Forum

Between 2017-2020, AEGEE is going to work towards a better Europe by building capacity and active engagement of her members in the following focus area topics:

  • Equal Rights
  • Civic Education
  • Youth Development
  • European Citizenship

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The Agora is a space for learning – as it has always been. From procedural motions and plenary requirements, from sideroom discussions to long evening talks about the future of Europe, from practicing direct democracy and the excitement of voting and elections, the AEGEE Agora has once again brought hundreds of Europeans together for one unforgettable event that will aspire them to be active European citizens.

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Thank you AEGEE-Chisinau

for the unforgettable experience and for welcoming all of us in your home!

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You can find more coverage of the AEGEE Agora in Moldova under the following links:

http://moldpres.md/news/2016/10/11/16008079

http://sfm.md/2016/autumn-agora-chisinau-2016-everybody-in-the-casa-mare/

http://diez.md/2016/09/28/chisinaul-va-gazdui-cel-mai-important-eveniment-al-asociatiei-studentilor-europeni-iata-cand-va-avea-loc/

http://diez.md/2016/10/10/recomandari-de-evenimente-pentru-ziua-de-marti-11-octombrie/

http://diez.md/2016/10/13/foto-aegee-chisinau-organizat-un-eveniment-pentru-tineri-si-50-de-voluntari-din-mai-multe-tari-europene/

http://trm.md/en/social/tineri-din-peste-40-de-tari-se-vor-intalni-la-chi-sinau-in-cadrul-unei-conferin-te/

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Last Stop of Team Blue: Naples, the City of Strong Opinions /last-stop-of-team-blue-naples-the-city-of-strong-opinions/ Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:09:36 +0000 /?p=6869 By Hanna Polischuk

And the trip of the Team Blue is coming to an end.

Arriving to the port of Naples by ferry, also provided by InterRail as well as all the trains before, the feeling of the ultimate destination made us feel a bit sad. Anyway, one more local was awaiting, so we started our preparations.13254199_616349558512685_8107840103327829189_n

Naples is not only the city of the best pizza in the world, but also a city of tradition, architecture, sea port and brave, strong opinions. Young people are not afraid to express what they think and draw attention to what they consider the important issues. A good example of the fact that the young people care and do not stand aside is the demonstration regarding the mysterious disappearance and further discovery of the tortured body of the PhD student Giulio Regeni in Egypt. We saw this demonstration while looking for interview respondents for our project, and when we saw our AEGEE member, Vincenzo as a participant, we asked him more regarding the topic and joined as well.

We organized the EoT session on the first day of our arrival. AEGEE-Napoli arranged everything in a very nice way, and even though it was grey rainy day, inside of the building we had a cozy and warm atmosphere. Moreover, the project manager of Europe on Track, Nicola Guida, and Sofia Lobakina, attended our last presentation, which was a big honour for our team members. Overall, we had 13 participants and the whole evening for the discussions.13267726_616349371846037_6546641549880635412_n

In the beginning, we introduced the project and presented the results from our trip and all the previous stops. In the next activity, which we call “Map Your Europe”, in the same way as at the previous stops, the participants were divided into two groups and had to draw Europe as they perceive it today (with or without the borders). One of the teams divided Eastern Europe, Turkey and Cyprus into 2 parts stating that one is European, the other is not. Another team just divided Cyprus and Turkey. Both of them excluded the UK. For us it was surprising to see the division of Ukraine and Russia into two parts each, that was a new approach.

444Closing our event, we had one more activity, in which everyone could express their personal opinion on the issue. There was a line with the critical points on the two edges, “yes” and “no” with “zero”, i.e. neutral opinion, in the middle. We were asking the questions, and according to their personal answers, the participants were choosing the place on the line to show how strong they agree or disagree with the statement.

Surprising for us all was the first and  we thought the easiest question, “Do you feel European?” There were not many optimistic answers, and it seems the EU fails to have appreciation in the South of Italy. However, on the question about trusting the EU institutions, most of the participants answered “neutral”, and those who said “yes”, explained it by better functioning according to the Italian ones; those who answered “no” blame the institutions in leaving all the responsibility of the refugee crisis on other countries and is failing in managing it. Finally, the last interesting question was regarding the borders, “Is opening Schengen to other countries a good idea?” We got a big “Yes” from everyone, but it was agreed that this should be done until it is safe.13239382_616349235179384_623226194745115593_n

Having such a productive discussion, taking some interviews on the streets, talking to Project Team members of “Europe on Track” and taking part in the demonstration was how we ended our trip as the Ambassadors of this wonderful project. We would like to express our huge gratitudes to the Project Team, all the locals who hosted us and helped with everything, and special thanks to Interrail for making all this possible! I personally would like to thank my team members, Benedetto and Ksenia, with whom we spent all this time together, travelling, learning, answering to the challenges and making a change!

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If you have a chance to become an Ambassador of the Europe on Track #4, don’t hesitate, do it!

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All EU need is love! /all-eu-need-is-love/ Tue, 16 Aug 2016 18:08:20 +0000 /?p=6821 By Chikulupi Kasaka

Team Red of Europe on Track 3 arrived at their last stop, Verona, on 14th May. We were warmly welcomed by AEGEE-Verona, special thanks to Erika. The event that AEGEE-Verona organised was titled “ALL EU NEED IS LOVE”, a pre-event of AgoraBergamo, AEGEE’s General Assembly.

AEGEE-Verona event took place from 14th -17th May and it welcomed Team Red travelers as well as Agora participants from different antennas across Europe. More than 20 participants participated in the event. On the day of arrival, the hosts made the participants learn a little bit of Italian culture. They introduced everyoneverona_6 to Italian gestures, very useful when in Italy. The gesture exercise was exciting and funny; even some participants shared some gestures which resemble the ones used in their particular countries.

On the 15th day of May, the organisers prepared a trip to Garda Lake. Unfortunately, the weather was not the best, so the organizers successfully rescheduled the activities of that day, so participants learned how to make an amazing Italian ‘Tiramisu’.

On the 16th of May, we attended the indoor workshop at the University of Verona. In the morning, participants had a session on “Nationalism versus Europeanism”. The session was chaired by Erika and it gave a chance for the participants to discuss what they feel about Europe, Schengen and Mobility.

Then, Europe on Track 3 travelers conducted a session about youth Mverona_3obility and Erasmus Plus. We presented Europe on Track project and later on we discussed about youth Mobility, where the participants had an opportunity to share their experiences in terms of mobility, traveling in Europe or abroad as well as their experiences with exchange programs like Erasmus Plus.

The participants were given the assignment to draw the borders of Europe. They were given a blank map of Europe which has no borders and they were asked: “Where does Europe End”. After ten minutes, the participants had their maps drawn. It was very interesting for the travelers, who have been conducting the same exercise in different cities, to see for the first time, the cultural borders of Europe. Indeed, it was great to know different ways of understanding the term borders and the fact that one can draw it.

Finally, the participants werverona_1e given two questions to discuss and present afterward. One question was, “Should the Schengen Area be Expanded?” And the other question was “Should some countries in Europe be allowed to temporarily close their borders due to refugee crisis?”. The responses were; YES Schengen area should be expanded to some countries, so all Europeans can have equal rights regardless of where you travel in Europe. With regard to borders, NO border should be closed rather the particular countries should concentrate on migration policy to control and coordinate the movement of refugees.

On the same day, after lunch break, the participants parted Verona and went to the Garda Lake. At the Lake, the activities were to give “Free Hugs 4 Europe” and the second activities were to write their wishes for Europe on the Balloons. The participants were divided into 3 groups and were given a different direction to talk to people in the lake. The activities, in the end, encompassed the theme for the pre-agora event “All EU Need is Love” and people at Garda Lake felt the love from AEGEE participants across Europe.

 We are really grateful to AEGEE-Verona for being such a great hosts and an awesome antenna! Keep rocking and see you soon somewhere in Europe!

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To Schengen or not to Schengen, that’s the question! /to-schengen-or-not-to-schengen-thats-the-question/ Mon, 15 Aug 2016 17:12:48 +0000 /?p=6810 By Chikulupi Kasaka

From the 11th to the 13th  of May 2016, Team Red from Europe on Track 3 occupied Udine land in Italy. The team had quite a good experience despite the rainy weather. On the 11st May, upon arriving at Udine train station, we received warm hugs from Davide and the team of AEGEE-Udine, that made us feel at home.

On the 12th May, Team Red had one mission: to find out the views and opinions of the youth in Udine concerning Youth Mobility. AEGEE-Udine prepared an amazing event where Team Red facilitated a wonderful session that many participants attended. At 5:30pm, the workshop started with Europe on Track travelers explaining and presenting the project. It was quite interesting to see one participant interested to know more about how the Interrail Pass works, since the stops of both routes are connected through it. Our team explained that Interrail is an European company that sells Interrail train passes online to travelers from all over Europe. Interrail.eu is the joint Interrail webshop of 32 European railway companies.In some countries, one needs to reserve seats at some costs, but many of them are free and had enabled Team Red to cross the Western European countries starting from Brussels.udine_2

At first, Team Red conducted a Quiz about Youth Mobility and Schengen Area. In discovering and experiencing borderless Europe, participants were given another exercise to draw the borders of Europe. Participants were divided into two groups and were given blank maps of Europe to draw borders on them. The question put forward was “Where Does Europe End? The exercise is geared toward finding how many youths are aware of what Europe is and where it ends. At the end of exercise two different European maps were presented.Afterwards, we asked participants to share the mobility and exchange programmes they have attended. Many had benefited from youth Exchange programs and enjoyed mobility within Europe. In terms of mobility, many participants have enjoyed traveling within Europe with school programs, conferences, internships, AEGEE-projects, etc.

After knowing that participants have enjoyed borderless Europe and traveled within the Schengen zone, the next session was a group assignment. We divided them into two groups, that were given two separate questions: “Should the Schengen Zone be expanded?” and “Should the Schengen countries be allowed to temporarily closeudine_1 borders to refugees?” After a few minutes of group discussion, one member from each team had to present their responses to all participants.

To the question: Should the Schengen zone be expanded? The group said: Yes, it should be expanded to countries like the United Kingdom. Because the youth in Europe needs to enjoy mobility. Also, if the Schengen zone is expanded, it will make it easier to increase youth opportunities for employment. Lastly, the group suggested that, if the Schengen zone is expanded, it will enhance the “European Spirit” to all youth and make them feel as one. On the other hand, to the countries which are unstable and face wars like Turkey, there needs to be a special criteria for them to meet before they can be included in the Schengen zone.

Should the Schengen countries be allowed to temporarily close borders to refugees? The youths in Udine were uncertain due to the serious contemporary challenges that Europe is facing. According to them, on the one hand, some countries should be allowed to temporarily close their borders for security reasons as well as to manage the refugee flow. On the other hand, those countries should not close their borders because of the risk that restricting mobility in Europe poses to the European project. There might be a risk of not being able to restore the previous borderless Europe.

Do you agree with these opinions from youth in Udine? Share your opinion with us!

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Faces of Europe – Summer competition! /faces-of-europe-summer-competition/ Mon, 25 Jul 2016 10:41:58 +0000 /?p=6710

Summer is the time to widen your horizons, discover diversity and meet new friends. Have you had a great traveling experience this summer? Did you cross borders, break stereotypes, merge in a different culture? Did you discover something new about Europe, or did you change your mind about what the European identity is? And most importantly, would you like to share your experience? Then take part in the competition “Faces of Europe – Summer stories”.

Faces of Europe is a photoblog launched by the Your Vision for EUrope project of AEGEE-Europe that aims to show the diversity of our continent. Europe is rich of cultures, identities, habits and traditions. Through the photoblogs we want to share and visualize the amazing stories of everyday Europeans in an up-close and personal way.

For the summer competition are looking for tales about unusual trips, new experiences and unexpected encounters. We are searching for new perspectives, interpretations and viewpoints on Europe.

If you would like to participate in the summer competition then:

  1. create a photoblog of yourself or a person you met during your summertime. We would like to have the photoblog consist of a picture + a text of around 150 words which tells the story of the person portrayed. The style of the photoblog submitted should be in line with that of those published on the Facebook page of Faces of Europe.
  2. Send the photoblog to facesofeurope@aegee.org before the 28th of August.

We will publish the 15 best ones in the month of September. For questions you can contact us at facesofeurope@aegee.org.

Looking forward to receiving your summer stories!

Your Vision for EUrope team

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What do Greeks think about a borderless Europe and the refugee crisis? /what-do-greeks-think-about-a-borderless-europe-and-the-refugee-crisis/ Sat, 16 Jul 2016 16:16:01 +0000 /?p=6684 By Hanna Polischuk

The next stop where we experienced the refugee problem and raised the question about the borderless Europe was Greece. We asked some students, whom we met in Athens and Patras, for their opinions. Most of our respondents have already been travelling around Europe either for holidays or for education and cultural exchanges. Many of them have gained international experience by being members of international organizations and studying in other countries via Erasmus amongst others.

Fly athens

On the question if there are borders in Europe, almost everyone said that they are, but only in our minds:

I think that borders are mostly in the European minds, because now with everything that has been happening, we have more prejudices towards what’s going on in Europe and the people who are coming to Europe. The government is following that mindset, which means that they create policies resulting closing borders.

Theodora Giakoumelou, 19

However, it is not possible to notice the border problem inside the Schengen area:

If we talk about the Europeans, there are no strict borders, but the other people outside of the EU have problems to visit Europe. I know it from the experience of my friends from Asia and Africa.

Dimitris N., 22

There are not really visible borders in most of Europe, but if you check better, you can see that in some countries there are completely no borders: you can go between countries just passing by, while in other countries it’s harder to do that, you have to follow some procedures or some paperwork, especially if you go from the West to the Eastern side of Europe. Nowadays, it is going harder and harder to realize that once we did not even care if there were borders, but now, with the refugee crisis, they are coming back to the reality. Many countries are even building a visual borders.”

Dimitris Bouloubassis, 23

For Greek people as well as fo13265980_615852725229035_4493971792193996963_nr other EU members it is very easy to cross borders and travel from country to country. In the world passport rating Sweden, Finland and Germany are ranked the country #1, for which most of countries are open (visa free). Greece is a bit lower in the list; however, it also has a high position. Many Greek students confirmed that it is not hard to travel for them.

When we went onto the streets, we met many refugees. As we understood from what we saw and heard from locals, the refugee problem is growing bigger every day and Greece accommodates currently more than 50,000 refugees at its territory:

Many refugees, especially in the Greek islands like Samos, Chios, the ones that are actually very close to Turkey. I believe the number is something like 50 thousand people or something, which is related to the population, it is low I guess. But imagine all those people have gone through this situation with women and small children, it is difficult. So, it is not so much problem for us as it is for them I guess.

Orestis Panagiotidis, 21

Greek youth feel mostly safe in their country, being able to understand the reasons why people moved there:

I feel safe because I do not think that these people want to harm us, Greeks. They want to find a new home and job. So, I don’t feel afraid, and I am fine with them.

Vasiliki Petrakou, 21

I think that it is difficult for them too, and I think th13237683_615852638562377_227857386974934013_nat we should have solidarity and help them to integrate here in Greece. Because there is a war at their home, I would be afraid too. It is not safe not only for me, but also for them. It is difficult; ok, I am afraid, but it is not only me here. I live with other people, so… If I had a war in my country too, I would go away, it is true.”

Yiota Mitropoulou, 20

Yes, I feel safe in Greece. I am very proud about the behavior that Greece shows to refugees, and I think that the other European countries do not have the behavior that they should have. So, it is important to inform people about the problems that refugees have, to be more open-minded about these problems, and to understand that we need to help to solve these problems.

Dimitris N., 22

I think that the refugees are the people who have a lot of problems in their countries and they come to Greece or to other countries because they want to find a better life. So, I think we must help them, because all of us, we are the same, we are people, and we should help people who have problems. So, in a lot of cases refugees do not make lots of problems to people who live in the places where they come; but in other cases a lot of them make problems because in such conditions in which they live, they have nothing to eat, they don’t have a house for living. So, it is possible that they will start robbing because they do not have money to eat. And so, it all feels strange: in lots of cases you feel safe, in other you don’t feel safe.”

Akis Tripolitsiwtis, 21

In the opinions of many Greeks, the European Union has failed to solve the refugee crisis. As the EU is trying to find a compromising solution, and it is really hard (almost impossible) to find a compromise between so many countries, the problem becomes bigger instead of being solved. The latest solution was an agreement with Turkey and Greece in order to stop refugees from going further. But even with huge efforts and the financial support, only two countries cannot cope with such a huge problem.

So, should borders be more open or closed at all? This question is difficult because on the one hand we all strive for the mobility, and at the same time we want to be secure and protected:

I think that the borders must be open, but in cases when people come from other countries, they should not create problems to people who live in the country they visit. For example, in Greece we have many economic problems, and many people don’t work, because they don’t have work. So I think when people want to come for vacation, is ok; those who come for living is also ok, but I prefer to take the work which they might take instead of me. This situation is very difficult for us.”

Akis Tripolitsiwtis, 21

13227200_613653185448989_3924533945965814428_nIn my opinion borders have to be open, but when you visit a place, you have to respect the local culture, traditions etc. You have to explain them not to implement them in your life, but you have to respect them. So, open borders with respectful physicals, let’s say. That’s my opinion

Orestis Panagiotidis, 21

When we talk about the Greek-EU relationships, what positive and negative points can you think of?

“Positive? Hmmm… Because we’ve been born and grown up in Europe and having all the privileges of the EU already, we do not perceive them as positive. But, of course, being able to travel around Europe without a passport is a great positive point; Schengen is great, as well as Erasmus and other mobility and educational programs. As for negative points, I think right now when the European Union is facing a great amount of existential problems, meaning that we do not really know what we are doing with the EU, how do we want to change it in order to be able to adapt to the new circumstances, both in economical and the social field.

Elena Panagopoulou, 24

What would you wish for the future of Europe? The most common responses are: being more united, open-minded and helpful. Here some of the responses:

13226936_613653178782323_5795814118772003586_nI would like to say something to be changing the European Union at the moment, because I think that Europe is not only the EU but it really affects the situation around Europe. So, I would like to say changing something in how the European Union is working right now.

Erifyli Evangelou, 21

They should understand that it is not only our problem, of Turkey and Greece, and the Eastern Europe; it is a problem that affects us all.

Vasiliki Petrakou, 21 and Yiota Mitropoulou, 20

I wish a more united Europe in terms of diversity, borders also, and understanding, because if Europeans cannot understand each other, there is no solid future for us. And there is no actually future for this generation. We need to understand our needs, and satisfy everything that needs to be covered. There are actually should be more reforms.”

Dimitris Bouloubassis, 23

To be more open-minded and to feel as European citizens instead of feeling the citizens of a single country that has borders, and to be more secure about economics, about technology. I think there are many people who have the abilities to succeed.

Dimitris N., 22

It was a big pleasure not only to discover this wonderful country, but also to hear the voice of youth, which gave us the insight about the situation and attitude in the country. We sincerely hope for the improvement of the refugee situation and rational, effective actions from the EU side. We would like also to express our gratitude to AEGEE-Athina and AEGEE-Patra for helping us with organization of our activities, for their hospitality and care. Moreover, huge thanks to Interrail for the opportunity to cross borders fast and with comfort!

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Team Blue Is in the Country of Democracy /team-blue-is-in-the-country-of-democracy/ Fri, 08 Jul 2016 09:55:43 +0000 /?p=6637 By Hanna Polischuk

After such a warm hospitality of the three Turkish cities that we visited, it was hard to leave the country so soon. However, our route was already planned, and two wonderful Greek locals were waiting for us Our first stop in this country was Athens, the city of the famous Acropolis, democracy, Agora and gods.

AEGEEans from this amazing locals organised a city tour which described us the ancient and modern Greece. The main discussion was about democracy and how it developed through history. We could feel the past when we went up to the Acropolis, the ancient citadel of a great historic significance. But we only felt like real Greeks after tasting gyros and drinking a couple of glasses of frape.

13227116_613652232115751_6734689722210336571_nWe also attended a very interesting exhibition regarding the refugee crisis, “Suspended Step Cartoons”, aimed at showing the real picture of the refugee crisis and organized by The Association of Greek Cartoonists and The District of South Aegean Islands. It had indeed a great success: the hall was full of people exploring the works of over 20 cartoonists. All those works were really touching and frustrating; they made us think and be more aware of the scale of the problem. When we interviewed one of the cartoonists, Vangelis Pavlidis, he could not hold the tears while talking about this. Here you can understand why.

Later on, we gathered together with young Greek people in the university to know what they think about the biggest current problems in their country. We divided them into three groups in order to discuss three topics: EU-Greece Relationships, Youth Unemployment and Refugee Crisis in Greece. One person per team, the moderator, stayed in the same place, while the others were moving to another group in order to have a chance to discuss all the topics.13245487_613652105449097_3672689756546245210_n

As a result, the problems highlighted in the first topic were weak Greek economy, lack of trust to the EU institutions, false image of the country, lack of unity, unbalanced social states, wrong politics and lack of the migration policies. The solutions offered consist on easy steps: learning from the mistakes, understanding the European values, improving the communication and cooperation, fostering and developing the civic education, enforcing the equality among the EU countries, and finally increasing the involvement of the citizens into the decision-making process.

As for youth unemployment, most of the problems were the same as in every European country; however, the unemployment rate in Greece is higher than in most of them. Among the main obstacles to improve the situation are scarce job opportunities, lack of communication between universities and job market, prevailing of connections above knowledge and experience, no willingness to do manual labor jobs while striving only for the ‘prestigious’ jobs, and thus, creation of undesirable supply of workforce in a single field that has no more demand. The unemployment problem exist for many years and the clue is near; there are many ways to improve the situation, but it has to be organized and fast.

The first step will be understanding the real job market’s needs and encouraging the most needed professions; then, improvement of the communication between universities and enterprises, their mutual development of the internship programs; and lastly, the development of the open-mindedness and youth entrepreneurship through the mentorship platforms.

Regarding the last topic of discussion,  the refugee crisis, lots of problems were named. Among them are war and insecurity, racism and discrimination, bureaucracy and corruption, no cooperation between nations, and no fixed political agenda. Young Greeks see the ways to deal with those problems in unity and cooperation resulting to a common policy, integration policies, simplification of the procedures, increasing support and humanitarian help, changing the current government while voting reasonably and implementing the necessary reforms throughout the EU. When there is a problem, there is always the way to solve it, and most of the solutions depend on us.13233157_613651182115856_3997036037883047431_n

After an intensive day in the capital, we departed to Patra early in the morning. The language in the train was not understandable but by the detailed explanations of Dimitris, we managed to get to the next city without any problem. At the bus station we were warmly met by the president and treasurer of AEGEE-Patra. While Ksenia and Benedetto decided to have some rest at home, the rest of the team went to open the swimming season. Even in spring the water in the Ionian sea is warm. After the refreshment and cultural night program we began the serious day. Even under the hot sun we found some young people who shared with us their opinions about the borderless Europe. 13241348_615852195229088_387481140209867202_n

We organized a parliament simulation being the main topic of discussion “Is Schengen Dead or Alive?” Everyone had a chance to express the opinion, and there were many arguments for both sides of the question. The biggest debates were about security versus refugees. From one point of view, it is important to take care about refugees and help them integrate into the Greek society. From the other one, there is a fear that terrorists can pretend to be refugees, and that letting them in will weaken the security and increase the chance of an attack.

Among the reasons to open borders were solidarity, support for the victims of the war, sharing the burden, protection of the human rights and respecting the Schengen agreement. On the contrary, the opposing team explained the necessity to close the borders mainly because of the terrorism. They suggested to enforce an European army with border guarding and intensifying passport control. We should  help people who are leaving their homes and past life behind in order to survive and protect their families without any doubt. At the same time, there is a need to cooperate among all the EU states in order to unify and improve the general security.13256100_615852255229082_6559252599137052595_n

We were actively engaged in both discussions but we let the participants speak out. In the political EU world there are similar discussions going on and on without any clear final solution nor strategy.

By what we understood, if the government does not take any actions, its people will change the rulers. We live in a time of changes and fights for democracy and human rights. Whenever you come to Greece, you feel it more than anywhere else. We are very grateful to AEGEE-Athina and AEGEE-Patra for this amazing experience and their warm hospitality. Also, we would like to thank again Interrail for this opportunity!13267791_615852268562414_4512342797948786114_n

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