Luca, Anton and Hannah are all part of the 2019-2021 cohort. Luca studied in Groningen in his first semester, Anton in Krakow and Hannah in Uppsala. They all three got to know each other during their second semester in Strasbourg. All three decided to pursue the professional track in their third semester, leaving them spread across the continent: Luca in Sofia, Hannah in Geneva and Anton in Berlin. They are all co-founders of United Citizens of Europe and each brings a different expertise to the project.
Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Hi Luca, Anton and Hannah. Tell us a bit more about how the United Citizens of Europe project came into being and what you are trying to accomplish.
United Citizens of Europe (UCoE): The original idea behind United Citizens of Europe was to have a MEU (Model European Union) on European Citizenship and golden visas. The pandemic forced us to change our format and our overall initial idea. In the end, we decided to carry out live interviews on Instagram, hosting guests with a relevant background in the European institutional and civil society sector. The original team was composed of five members; only two of us are still here. When contemplating whether or not to continue with the project, we knew we wanted Anton to join because of his creative mind and attention to detail.
EM: Your project was initially envisioned as part of the Eurocompetences II course. Unlike many other projects, it has continued even after the second semester. Was this longer time frame something you had initially planned for, or did it arise naturally?
UCoE: It was definitely not planned. When you do a project with university colleagues, you get tired of the project very fast. Especially after seeing little to no interest by some members, it gets frustrating and you start losing interest as well.
However, when we finished the Eurocompetence II report, we started wondering what to do with the online platforms (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) and we knew there had to be a way they could still be useful. However, it has to be mentioned that what UCoE was during Eurocompetence II is not what it is now.
EM: Tell us a bit more about what happened to your project after the second semester. How did it develop? How did you find time to manage the project and write your thesis?
UCoE: It developed organically. We just wanted to use it as a platform to inform people about what is going on in Europe and with the EU’s external actions. We began doing this through our podcast and our social media platforms. Then, we decided to use it as a platform to showcase our analytical skills, at which point we created our website and began publishing articles there.
We do this whenever we have time, and we are a very small team. We do our best to be constant but sometimes it’s complicated considering everything that is going on. Juggling personal life, work, and university life is already complicated. Putting a project on top of that is basically an added stress. What kept us going was seeing the positive feedback from other people.
We recently had a call for contributions and we received an immense amount of applications. We could not believe how many people were – and are – interested in this project. It really warms our hearts.
EM: What was the greatest challenge in continuing your project after your second semester? In what ways did you have to adapt?
UCoE: Finding the motivation is definitely hard. There were some days where we wouldn’t receive positive feedback and it would make us feel uncertain about the whole project, especially in the beginning. In the early phases, we were always questioning everything: whether or not it looked professional enough, will we have enough guests for the season, why did guest X cancel last minute, will we have enough articles, why aren’t we getting enough recognition, and so on.
We overcame those fears with practice; we accepted the reality that sometimes things do not go our way, but we are putting a lot of effort into it. For example, many interviews were canceled last minute and when our podcasts were recorded on Instagram live, there were often technical issues. Finding last-minute replacements was not easy, but we managed every week. Now we are getting better at doing what we do, so it takes us less time to write things, edit podcasts, and have graphic design ready. With time, we have also started gaining followers which has really helped us to grow, especially if you operate mainly online like we do.
EM: You are currently looking for new contributors. What are you looking for? What can Euroculture students expect when collaborating with United Citizens of Europe?
UCoE: We are looking for young minds that are ready to showcase their talent in any format. Whether it is in community management, writing articles on different issues, or showcasing their talent in communications through our podcast or live-streams.
We have a very diverse and dynamic work environment. We are always up for discussion and creating good connections. Throughout this year (almost a year actually) we were also able to build a network with other realities and whoever embarks on this journey will definitely get in touch with them too.
EM: Thank you for your time! Could you please tell us what are your plans for this project after you graduate from Euroculture?
UCoE: The project is going more and more in the direction of a think-tank and we are really enjoying seeing how it is evolving. We don’t want to reveal too much to avoid jinxing it, but stay tuned to see what is coming next!
EM: Is there anything else you would like to add?
UCoE: Our platform is always open to anyone who wants to be interviewed and share their experience or promote a special project.
Picture Credits: Personal file