By Bryan Trannin Bayne
Choosing, starting, and managing a project often are daunting tasks. The Euroculturer conducted a series of short interviews to showcase some of the many projects Euroculture students came up with in the Eurocompetence II course. These interviews were designed to give current and future students an idea of what has already been done and to learn from previous experience.
We asked each student the same three questions: What was your Eurocompetence II project? Did you put it into practice? How was your experience? Here are their testimonials:
Virginia Stuart-Taylor – Uppsala 2017 – War on Truth
Our class in Uppsala 2017 decided to plan, fund, and run the ‘War on Truth’ international conference on the topic of fake news, bringing students and locals into contact with leading figures from academia, think tanks, the media, and start-ups from across Sweden and the Netherlands. Held in May 2017, only months after Trump’s 2016 election, misinformation and fake news were crucial issues, making the conference well-attended and a big success.
The hardest part of working together on the project was the ideation phase and picking a feasible, realistic, and sufficiently stretching project. We looked to examples of previous Eurocompetence II projects for inspiration and scope but also scoped out our own skills, interests, available resources, and pressing issues it would be worthwhile to address. Once we settled on running a conference, the division of roles within the team and execution of our individual responsibilities was easier, and regular meetings helped us make decisions, keep on track and manage the project. Overall it was satisfying to complete such a tangible project as a conference, with our post-conference report being a good physical outcome.
Stella Meyer – Göttingen 2019 – Connecting through Food
As our semester moved online due to the pandemic, we had to come up with projects that could be implemented online. My group created a food blog on which we shared authentic dishes from around the world including some background info about the dish and its country of origin. We also encouraged people to share a little bit about themselves and why they chose to submit this particular recipe. We called it “Connecting through food” as this perfectly described our intention: we wanted to create a space where people can learn about another culture through its food and know it is authentic because it was shared by someone from that particular country. It also allowed people to take a culinary trip in times of lockdowns and take their minds off of things.
Setting up the blog was fairly easy and even though we never met in person, we had an excellent group dynamic and were all on the same page as to what we wanted our project to look like. We first asked friends and family for recipes and the stories behind them so that the blog wouldn’t be empty once we launched it. It came in handy that all of us were from different countries and had been at different universities throughout our studies. At the end of the semester, we had 23 recipes from 13 countries! Getting people to submit recipes was actually a lot harder than we had anticipated and it took a lot of effort to promote our project. Nevertheless, we learnt a lot and gained new skills like website design and food photography. But most of all, we really enjoyed the blog ourselves and decided to continue with it after the official project deadline – check it out if you like!
My advice would be to do something you enjoy and don’t mind putting in extra hours for. If you would like to contribute a new recipe, click here.
Guilherme Becker – Groningen – 2018 – EU4Groningen
My Eurocompetence II project was called EU4Groningen and was basically a social media project to raise awareness of the people of Groningen, Netherlands, to the May 2019 European Parliament elections. We started the project in February.
On Facebook and Instagram accounts created and designed essentially for this project, my group launched a series of posts that showed along two months the connections between Groningen and the European Union. The posts were split into different topics, such as history, economy, politics, and sports, by means of interviews, videos, pictures, and a lot of research.
I personally felt it was a great experience in many ways, from the brainstorming sections to putting the ideas into practice, publishing all materials, and then observing the interactions and evaluations. I also believe it was great because everyone in the group worked as a team, supporting and helping each other in the most difficult times. Stress and pressure to hand projects and papers out can be overwhelming sometimes, therefore it is important to work together and cooperate with one another.
Hannah Bludau and Luca De Cristofaro – Strasbourg 2019 – United Citizens of Europe
Our Eurocompetences II project was originally intended as a model European Union event and conference on European citizenship. The project, called United Citizens of Europe, was aimed at students and young professionals and was to take place in May 2020 at the University of Strasbourg. The goal of our project was to bring students and experts together, inspire the generation of future diplomats and politicians, and raise awareness about European citizenship.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our plans to implement the project were quickly thrown out the window. When it became clear that the pandemic would not end anytime soon, our instructors advised us to find solutions to conduct the project in an online format. In a bid to save the original goal of the project, we decided to conduct weekly livestream interviews on Instagram with experts on the impact of the pandemic in EU countries.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic completely destroyed our ability to implement our original project idea, our project group was able to effectively transfer the project into an online format. Needless to say, we initially felt demotivated to continue the project and were skeptical that we would even be able to accomplish the goals and acquire the skills intended for the course. However, transferring our project to an online format proved to be an effective solution, not to mention a rewarding one. Shortly after we completed Eurocompetence II, we decided to continue to pursue United Citizens of Europe. Almost a year after the original United Citizens of Europe was born, our project is still very much alive. We have since changed our goal and content, expanded our platforms, broadened our interests, and have a completely new team, but the origin of our project will always be rooted in Eurocompetence II.
Editor’s note: the United Citizens of Europe are currently looking for a wide array of collaborations. Check their website for further information.
Picture Credits: Pexels, United Citizens of Europe, Connecting Through Food, War on Truth