Crossing Europe with Europe on Track 2

By | June 14, 2014 at 2:06 pm | European Bodies | Tags: , , ,

In 2013 the Europe on Track project got launched, sending out young people to cross the European continent searching for answers to questions like: ‘Why should more young people become actors in the European Project?’ and ‘How can we get young people more engaged in the European agenda?’ The project turned out to be a huge success, even winning the Charlemagne Youth Prize in 2013, so a second edition was organized this year. The AEGEEan spoke to the travelers of this edition to find out more about their motivation, journey and memories they keep.

From April 9th until May 10th six young Europeans decided to take up the challenge, and cross Europe by train in two teams. Team Blue was formed by Yana Brovdij (AEGEE-Wien), Javier Castillo (AEGEE-Las Palmas) and Wessel Reijers (AEGEE-Enschede), while Team Red had Monica Nica (AEGEE-Aachen), Lucia Sobekova (AEGEE-Bratislava) and Gergõ Kalamár (AEGEE-Budapest) as team members. Both teams started their journey at NWM Leiden, but split ways immediately. Team Blue travelled eastwards, visiting cities like Berlin, Praha, Warsaw, Minsk, Kyiv and Budapest, while Team Red went to the south, visiting cities like Zaragoza, Patra, Léon, Naples, Zagreb, Sofia and Pécs.

The first question to ask, of course, is why these six people decided to join the project. Although the exact reasons vary, they all mention their love for travelling and involvement with Europe’s future. Gergõ actually thought he had tried everything in AEGEE, but then realized he had never participated in an AEGEE-Europe project. “I thought this project was the best opportunity to meet a lot of young people, travel around Europe and do something really useful for our future.” Yana shares a similar motivation, telling us: “This project was giving me an unique opportunity to combine the three passions of my life: European affairs, writing and travelling.” Monika adds to this: “I believe it’s crucial for Europe’s future to meaningfully include young people in the decision-making process, and it’s time for politicians to listen to what they have to say.” Wessel thinks there is also a role for AEGEEans here, saying: “Since we as AEGEEans proclaim to have a certain vision about Europe, it is important to stay focused on the ‘why’ of this vision.” Next to developing Europe, they also wanted to develop their personal skills. “I am a Media Communication student, so I wanted to put my video skills into practice”, Javier tells us.

Travelling for a month normally means that you are leaving your home, but for one of the travelers it was actually a chance to go back home. As Yana tells us: “I have been living abroad for eight years, so it has been great to be able to visit my country and see my family, especially during this hard times.” The other travelers however weren’t this lucky, so they missed things from home, varying from Spanish food (Javier) to family and friends (Gergõ) or the ability to sleep in the same bed for more than two nights in a row (Monica).

The journey wasn’t only a matter of missing things though, since the travelers all had a hard time picking their favorite moments of their travels. Wessel says it’s hard to pick one favorite moment, but he had the most memorable time in Minsk, Belarus. “The people in Minsk were simply amazing, we had a great time talking to them and making music together, and there is a great sense of hope for the future amongst young people in Belarus.” Javier had a similar positive experience with citizens of Prague they met in the tram on the way to their hostel. “We met some musicians from different nationalities and we decided to go to a really underground pub and talk for hours about our experiences while travelling.” Yana tells us there were a lot of unforgettable moments, but the visit to Ukraine stands out for her. “Due to the events of the last months in Ukraine, being able to visit Maidan and see the places where people gave their lives for the better future of their country was very emotional.” For Gergõ it was really hard to pick one favorite moment, because every moment was great. “I loved to run to catch a train, it was fantastic to travel, the places we visited were beautiful and the people we met were wonderful.”

The travelers agree that they didn’t come home only with great memories, but also a changed vision about Europe, AEGEE, places they visited or all of the three mentioned before. “I have really hanged my vision about certain places I visited; especially about Belarus and Ukraine”, Wessel tells us. “It was great to experience the actual spirit in those countries and the disposition of young people to really change the status quo.” Javier adds to this: “It gave me an overall view of what youngers think about Europe, and it made me feel lucky to live in a really big country that we call the European Union, where it’s so easy to travel and to meet people all around the continent.” To Monica it changed her view on Europe in a positive way. “Europe on Track gave me more confidence in Europe’s future, meeting so many dedicated, professional and positive people.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that all of the travelers would go on a journey like this again. Most of the travelers agree that the concept right now is close to perfect already. As Wessel tells us: “I would keep most of the project the same, because in general it’s really an awesome project!” Yana even wants to take a second round of Europe on Track to the next level. “Not only would I do it again, I wouldn’t mind doing something similar for the whole year, because the experiences you get are unforgettable and you learn and grow so much in the process.

Want to stay updated about the project? Follow Europe on Track on Facebook!

Written by Svenja van der Tol, AEGEE-Nijmegen


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