At a time a lot of young people all over Europe are struggling with unemployment; big national banks collapse. At a time our world leaders talk about the crisis in Greece and the European currency ‘Euro’ is questioned by national governments. At that time I participated in a ‘Youth in Action’ project called ‘Living Entrepreneurship’. A program sponsored by the European Union in which the main aim is to share points of view and talk about European issues.
In retrospective I can say it was worth the travel and the energy. Personally I got inspired by the project in which I learned a lot from the different participating countries (Netherlands, Slovenia, Poland, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey and –organizing country- Romania) and in which I realized that to improve certain things in the future it is important to stay critical. The first short part of this article is my personal –critical- view on the program. The second part is a brief overview of the week.
First of all
The idea of ‘Youth in Action’ is that young people all over Europe interact. More understanding, exchange of ideas and creating some kind of ‘European citizenship’ are the key words for doing that. After this week I still support this idea enthousiastically. Either way, if I see how a serious program like this one is seen by some people -and especially the organizations that sent them- there’s only one conclusion that can be drawn: be critical on what the European tax-payer is paying for.
This project had a budget of around € 15.000. Specifically: an amount of € 18,- per person on a daily basis + a reimbursement of 70% of the travel costs. This generous offer –again, provided by the European tax-payer- in my opinion should be paid back with 1. Respect for the program; 2. A certain intrinsic motivation and participation. There were a lot of inspiring people who lived up to these expectations. There were also a lot of people who did not and who saw this week as a paid-drinking-vacation. For me it was good to see how this works and how national agencies show a lack of responsibility when it comes to sending people abroad. Intercultural exchange is one of main things when building European citizenship but especially when a big proportion of these projects is paid for by European tax-payers this should be controlled more. To a certain extend this can be blamed on the participants. On the other hand, the responsibility should be looked for at the European Union being an institution that easily hands out money to national agencies that abuse this. Stay critical on this process was something important I learned this week.
Monument for the revolution in 1989
The week on itself
For me it was a busy week. Intercultural exchange while tasting Romanian beer was done during the night. This meant that getting up at 9am for your daily responsibilities (for some this was resting from the tiring beer drinking, for some this was actually participating in the program) was a tiring experience. It was very interesting to see how the ‘new-European-countries’ (=Balkan countries/Eastern Europe) are being organized and still influenced by their communist history. It was great to see how a lot of young people were very eager to learn from each other and how points of view and ideas were exchanged. This was all done by activities carried out in international/intercultural groups. People talked about initiatives that should be developed to stimulate entrepreneurship in their respective countries and the way in which the European Union could intervene in doing this (and to be honest…Officially I became an entrepreneur yesterday. I started my own company by signing up at the chamber of commerce: the program inspired me I guess! ;)…). One of the days was dedicated to a city-game in which we explored the beautiful city of Bucharest while doing all kinds of assignments.
Exploring the city. In the background: Ceauşescu’s palace
It was a great week in which I got to know a lot of interesting people, in which I got inspired to start my company and from all this initiate a project –my own project- in one of the forthcoming years. This short review of the week should be finished with a compliment to the Romanian staff. Everybody knows that there’s always room for improvement but but at least it was great to see how the Romanian organization tried setting up a full and interesting program to let those who were eager to learn actually learn something.