Education for the Present, Democracy for the Future: the Franck Biancheri Award Winning Conference in Budapest

From the 21st to the 23rd of April, AEGEE-Budapest hosted the conference “Education for the present, Democracy for the future”, which was the winner of the Franck Biancheri Award 2017. The event was organised together with Europe on Track and the Civic Education Working Group, with the support of the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri. We talked to Álvaro González Pérez, one of the participants, to get to know more about it. 

The AEGEEan: Why did AEGEE-Budapest decide to organise the conference? Which where the highlights of the event?

17966029_10154510445332045_2652364364842065136_oÁlvaro: AEGEE-Budapest had been dreaming of organising another big thematic event since their popular Agora in 2012, so the opportunity to help bringing to life such an important conference as  “Education for the Present, Democracy for the Future” was something they did not want to miss. Furthermore, and as the participants of the conference had the opportunity to learn in detail, civic education and democracy are two topics very much discussed currently in Hungary.

Regarding the highlights, there are way too many for me to mention all of them, but on a personal level I would underline on one hand the fact that the conference fired the starting gun for the arch-popular Europe on Track 4 (since both teams departed from Budapest), and on the other one the lecture given by a Hungarian university professor and activist, Marie Heller, on the current political and educational situation in Hungary, which gave us the foreign visitors a greatly enriching and enlightening local perspective.

Did they collaborate or had a partnership with other organisations?

17991553_790803074400665_52914864199977808_oThe content of the conference has been organised by the Europe on Track Project and the Civic Education Working Group, which did an amazing job. I cannot avoid mentioning the incredible job that María Ballesteros Melero did, who was close to being omnipresent.

Regarding the collaborations, the “Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri” (AAFB) supported the conference with its experienced speakers and trainers during the whole duration of the event, and the Central European University (CEU) provided us with the necessary space and material.

How many organisers were involved in the organisation of the conference? 

18076722_10154510443787045_4931114962851930214_oThere was a content team led by María Ballesteros, and formed by Maria Maris, Nicola Guida, Sofia Lobakina, and Balint Toronyai. The sessions were given by several members of the AAFB, the Comité Directeur and the CEWG, as well as by several guests that are a part of the Hungarian civil society, such as the a forementioned professor or a high school student involved in early activism. The organisational side was handled by AEGEE-Budapest and Petra Buruzs as main organiser, who made an amazing job and could not have made our stay in Budapest more comfortable and enjoyable.

Can you tell us something about the programme?

As shown by the name of the conference, the core of the conference was civic education in Europe, and the whole programme was based on this topic, whereas the first day the sessions were more based on the legacy of Franck Biancheri, regarding his life and his more than relevant role in AEGEE. In this sense, both of these elements were combined in a way that we dealt with the past, present and future of AEGEE and Europe, with interesting workshops dealing with diverse topics such as the current state of civic education in Europe, the role of civil society in the shaping of active and responsible citizens or the possibility of the democratisation of the Eurozone. The dynamism of the conference made it impossible to get bored: we had several parallel sessions that we could choose depending on what we felt like would fit us the most, as well as a World Café.

Is there something that we did not ask that you would like to share?

17966054_10154505284052045_290785085292943088_oEspecially remarkable is the fact that the place where the conference was held, the CEU, is currently in danger of being closed by the Hungarian government, because of several reasons dealing directly with the topic of civic education. For this reason, not only this university was suitable for us from a practical point of view, but also from a symbolic one.

Finally, I want to underline once again how enriching the lecture by Marie Heller on education and politics in Hungary was, not only for me, but for numerous participants. Even though the results of the evaluation are not out yet, I am convinced it will be close to the top of the best evaluated sessions, and it will come with no surprise:  getting to know the culture, society and politics of a certain place in that very place and by locals with expertise on the topic gives an unmatchable and an extremely educational insight.


Written by Paola Letizia Murru, AEGEE-Cagliari