Manon in Budapest
The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is one of the new initiatives from the European Union dedicated to the youth. It was announced for the first time in September 2016 by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker during his annual speech “State of the European Union”.
Few months later, in December 2016, the first projects started; 1,500 volunteers have participated already and more than the double will start working by end of 2017. The ambitious target is to involve 100,000 young people by 2020.
I had the incredible opportunity to interview two volunteers of the ESC, Manon and Nóra, that worked as Interreg Reporters, in the context of the Interreg Volunteer Youth, one of the numerous activities of the ESC.
In particular, they volunteered for the Danube Transnational Programme in Budapest.
Manon has worked from March to August, while Nora started in July and she will continue until December. They overlapped for a month, so they got to know each other.
Their daily work consisted in supporting their mentor, the communication officer, at the Joint Secretariat of the Danube Transnational Programme in organizing events, updating and improving the website of the program and, most importantly, to prepare articles and videos with the aim of transmitting the importance of the objectives and results of a particular project conducted in the Danube region; the most important goal is to communicate effectively how these projects are positively influencing the citizens involved. In Manon’s words: “Making Europe closer, more accessible, simply more human, improving transparency and communication, to make people understand the real and tangible value of the European Union”.
Manon is French and is 23 years old; she studied International Relations and decided to participate to the ESC during the last semester of her Master, while she was writing her thesis.
She wanted to underline how the ESC is exactly what the EU needs right now, i.e. more participation, more involvement, more cooperation across the Member States. The European Union is not only about economic bonds, but is, more importantly, founded on the idea of constructing a social and human capital, that needs to be taken care of.
She was happy to be assigned to the Danube Region as it is a very diverse and complex area, that is in need of internal cohesion from different points of view. The fact of being in Budapest was a plus, as she loved exploring this capital, so rich of history and identity; it was also the basis for her Master thesis.
Her work as Interreg Reporter has been her first volunteer experience; she already had the possibility to train her communication skills organizing events for a university association, but never in a deeper way.
She believes this experience contributed positively to her future career opportunities in different ways: she spoke English in a professional way for the first time and she improved her language skills substantially. She also learnt a lot regarding the EU and its infinite projects and, having in mind to work in European institutions later, she had the chance to meet various representatives of the institutions and agencies that will be able to advice and help her in the road she will decide to take.
She has always been enthusiastic about the European project and, after this experience, she is even more enthusiastic and ready to continue her commitment towards the EU values and goals.
Nóra is from Hungary and she is 25 years old. She also studied international relations with a focus also on international management with a double degree between an Hungarian and a French university. She had been awarded the Hungarian degree and she will soon also obtain the French one.
She started to work when Manon concluded her 6 months and she will continue to work until December.
Despite her desire to go abroad, Nóra decided that participating to the Danube Transnational Programme was the right choice for her; having an impact helping the Danube region to collaborate in order to face common challenges together was something she found as particularly interesting and important.
In particular, working at this project in Hungary made it special and familiar at the same time for her. Special as she is able to contribute, working in her country, to the international community; familiar as she already worked in a similar way when volunteering for Erasmus Student Network (ESN).
She worked for ESN for 4 years and it was one of the experiences that had the major impact on her life, personality and mentality: “a great family of students committed to quality intercultural experience by supporting and developing student mobility”. She has always invested her time and energy in ESN as she felt like volunteering paid her off much more than money could ever do. Volunteering in another European project seemed to her the natural continuation of what she was already doing.
The European Union has had a strong and positive impact on her life: during her studies, as a volunteer for ESN and now as Interreg Reporter. “Seeing the practical side of the European Project and learn how to communicate it effectively means having a real impact in the perception of the EU from its citizens”.
The contacts, abilities and knowledge she acquired thanks to this experience will be a great value added for her future career, that she sees potentially in the European institutions. She is especially interested in the fields of education, human rights and civil responsibility.
For Nóra, the main objective of the Interreg Volunteer Youth Project is to involve the youngest generation “for the open, fresh and creative approach to communication that can help in addressing a more direct and clearer message to the citizens; to involve the young people means growing future adults that understand and appreciate the EU and that can potentially become committed and talented policy-makers”.
To learn more about the project, follow these links: