Workshop: Branding nationalism the American way

 During the last Agora in Zaragoza, ‘Nationalism‘ was elected as the topic for the upcoming EBM in Lublin. Different thematic sessions workshops have been prepared to give a deeper insight to EBM participants about it, such as the workshop ‘Branding nationalism the American way’ that Réka Salamon (AEGEE-Aachen/AEGEE-Debrecen and Speaker of the Public Relations Committee) will give.

The AEGEEan: How exactly do you brand nationalism the American way?

Réka Salamon: The name of the workshop aims to refer to the spectacular American fashion of wearing their national identity on their foreheads (sometimes literally!). We are often mislead by a biased media presentation or misguided by our own stereotypes against the Americans but the massive amount of their national symbols and their reapparance in every possible surface, penetrating every possible aspect of their daily lives from food commercials to cinematography, from political speeches to civic education… the concept is simply astonishing. But is the USA really the greatest nation on Earth – how the Americans are often trying to present it – or it is only based upon a series of exaggerations and blind patriotic images?

AEGEEan: Why is it important for Europeans to learn from this American way of branding?

Réka: Not only AEGEEans, but also young Europeans in general tend to be caught up in the ‘continental mindset’, meaning, we possibly have a great knowledge of the European culture and it’s 1000-year-old traditions and tendencies up until nowadays, during the time of the EU integration and crises. One aspect of bringing the American viewpoint into all this is to discover what is behind the nowadays commonly used annotation of ‘United States of Europe’ and how Europeans can learn from the American model mainly by means of establishing a unified pro-European vision for all the citizens. The other aspect the workshop is to provide the Europe-bubbled mindset with a fresh global perspective by drawing a comparison between the European and the American model.

The AEGEEan: What can AEGEE members learn from your workshop?

Réka: AEGEE members will be introduced to the background concept of American patriotism from a brief historical perspective up until nowadays. The participants will be invited to take an active part in sharing their own impressions and stereotypical thoughts about the American culture, which ideas will be challenged and eventually “lessons” will be learnt. What is the impact of the iconic American patriotism in the everyday lives of American citizens? Is it a wildly manipulative articifial imposition or a heartfelt attachment for their motherland? From reenacting famous speeches to debunking the idea behind Captain America, learning and entertainment is granted!

The AEGEEan: What makes you the perfect person to give this workshop?

Réka: I have already given various types of presentations and was presenter at progress meetings during our statutory events. I completed my Masters in English and American Studies at the University of Debrecen, Hungary. I was also working in the US for a few months and had the opportunity to meet the living-breathing images from my textbooks. Yes, they are normal human beings (smiles), with a very unique mindset when it comes to their attachment to their country and this is something i have always found admirable and intriguing at the same time. Learning about the American culture in its past and current developments is one of the personal interests of mine.

The AEGEEan: What do you epect of participants joining the workshop?

Réka: I expect the participants to bring a lot of enthusiasm and dare to share even the craziest ideas they might have! I am also curious to meet fellow American Studies students, but in any case, the only thing is to be active! I would like to fulfil the participants’ expectations and meet the learning objectives of the workshop and have a mutually satisfying and fun time together!

Interested in this workshop? The exact infomation about time and place of the workshop will be announced during the EBM, but will also be available online in the EBM Lublin 2014 – Official Group

Written by Svenja van der Tol, AEGEE-Nijmegen