The European Union is described by critics as detached from its citizens. Many of these citizens may indeed not know that on the 9th of May Europe day is celebrated or why. On the 9th of May 1950 French foreign minister Robert Schuman presented a declaration that lead to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community. This Community developed into what we know today as the European Union. This is why in Germany already the week leading to Europe day – the so called Europe week – may be used to convey the advantages of the European integration in the Länder in public events.
Therefore, on the 4th of May 2018 inhabitants and visitors of Stuttgart were invited by music, an interesting stage programme and many colorful tents to enter into dialogue on European affairs and to enhance their knowledge on European topics. For the 8th time the government of the Land Baden-Württemberg organized the European action day at Schlossplatz, in the heart of the Swabian capital. More information in German on the event can be found under: Europa Aktionstag
Visitors also had the possibility to find out more about the Four Motors for Europe. The Four Motors for Europe are one of the most long-standing and prominent networks of Baden-Württemberg. In the Four Motors tent children and adults learned more about the priorities of the Baden-Württemberg presidency (link) as well as the 30th anniversary, celebrated this year on July, 3rd in Stuttgart. In forerun of the election of a Catalonian regional president, many visitors from Germany expressed their hope for a new legitimized government to be formed in Catalonia.
The 4th of May has as well been an important day for about 100 students from the Four Motors regions. Their schools participated in the Four Motors Online project (Link). Earlier that week on the May 2 the participating students met their project partners from the other schools for the first time in person. The students of five vocational upper secondary schools from Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Baden-Württemberg and Lombardy as well as students of five general (upper) secondary schools from Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Baden-Württemberg, Catalonia and Lombardy had been working for several weeks via eTwinning (Link) (an Erasmus + online platform) on the cultural heritage of the four motors’ regions. From May 2 to May 4 they could finalize their projects together during the the Four Motors project days in Stuttgart.
Before well-known politicians like Guenther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Financial Planning and Budget and Guido Wolf, Minister of Justice and European Affairs of Baden-Württemberg took the floor at the main stage the project groups of the Four Motors Online project presented their results. All project groups mastered the challenge of presenting the cultural heritage and specific characteristics of their regions in front of many visitors of the European Action Day. Their contributions attracted notable attention.
After their presentations some of the participating students and their teachers agreed to share their experiences. The vast majority of them had never heard of the Four Motors for Europe, the European Year of Cultural Heritage or participated in a comparable European project before. At the end of the project most of them said that they would like to participate in a similar project again. Why? Many of them like Cedric Zapf (Albertus Magnus Gymnasium Ettlingen) have made international friendships. Although working in English has been a challenge to many of the students, communication between the students worked perfectly well as students and teachers describe. In some cases Spanish has helped to exchange ideas. This has been the case for a student from France and another student from Germany of Spanish decent who will most certainly stay in contact thanks to the project.
In any case, almost all students learned more about the life and cultural characteristics in the other regions. Joris Clemente for example noted that German students go to bed much earlier than he himself and his classmates. To a certain extent telling the other students about their regions made some of the students understand more about their own regions and regional identity. The teachers were not solely impressed by their students’ presentation, intercultural and language skills, but also by their computer skills. Mattia Valente from Liceo Federici Trescore Balneario, BG Lombardy also won a contest among the students and has been selected to design the Four Motors online logo.
“Tradition is not to preserve the ashes but to pass on the flame”. This being said, the participating students followed the call of the Four Motors online project and become ambassadors of their regions!