EUSTORY Summit: Putting a Finger on the Pulse of Young Europeans

A generation raising its voice | Photo: David Ausserhofer
A generation raising its voice | Photo: David Ausserhofer

"In the light of current events, I want to be part of a generation actively raising its voice."

Young Europeans want to take on responsibility. This is clearly shown by the applications for the EUSTORY Next Generation Summit 2017 which will bring together 100 EUSTORY alumni in Berlin during 6to 10 October 2017. Different workshops will offer scientific, journalistic and cultural perspectives for exchanging on topics such as European remembrance culture, violence, populism in the media or online propaganda.

EUSTORY prize winners and alumni between the ages of 16 and 25 submitted 200 applications, which shine a light on the topics they consider pressing for today’s Europe. Their texts show the emotional reactions to current tests for the European community.

Elena, 18, from Italy writes: "Dear Europe, I know you are exhausted among all the changes that are breaking you into little pieces: economic crises, political changes, terrorism, poverty and inequality, injustice, a lack of liberty to express ourselves sometimes… That’s why we are here, to form a crew that will help you to mend together your broken parts. Therefore, I want to be part of this Summit."

»Re:member Europe«
»Re:member Europe«

For many, taking part in the Summit presents an opportunity for cross-border dialogue. "Intercultural exchange is the only way to develop a European identity," states one applicant. Another prize winner of the German competition emphasises that sometimes we are too easily taking the advantages of the European community as a given: "We eat in Greek restaurants, participate in school exchanges with the Czech Republic or Italy, speak English as a lingua franca and travel from one country to another forgetting we have just crossed a border." The key for sustaining a peaceful and open-minded European society, she finds, is knowledge and she is curios for new encounters.

Current political developments are worrying the young Europeans. Brexit or the election of Donald Trump – for many these events are incentives to engage with historic events and movements in order to better understand current phenomena. Participation in the EUSTORY Summit is another way to approach the current political situation in Europe and the world.

Fortunately, the young Europeans’ statements show the opposite of a passive, political disenchantment which is so often ascribed to their generation.Topics such as political populism are seen as challenges that are affecting them. Some applications display rage and a feeling of helplessness about politicians who encourage discrimination of minorities and dissenters, and even attack them with means of the political state.

Actively opposing this trend is what applicants want to do during a workshop with the Polish organisation Kultura Liberalna, where they will learn to analyse their national press coverage for populist language patterns. When meeting in Berlin, they will compare their individual results and take a closer look at European similarities and differences. Another popular workshop among the applicants will develop a tool box for detecting and actively objecting fake news and hate speech online. Separating true and false stories has become more and more difficult, laments one Polish applicant.

All applications show the willingness to actively work towards a peaceful and united Europe: "Gemeinsam, tillsammans, ensemble, razem, junto, sammen, معا. As different as these words are and whether it’s German, Swedish, French, Polish, Spanish, Danish or Arabic; they all mean the same. Together. What we have to realise, I think, is that it is not important which word you use because in the end we all mean the same thing. At the end we’re together."

When the students meet in Berlin, the Summit might also provide them with opportunities to realise which experiences, backgrounds or prejudices can get in the way of unbiased dialogue and how they can overcome possible barriers.

Find more details about the EUSTORY Next Generation Summit on the History Campus.

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