By Chikulupi Kasaka
Team Red of Europe on Track 3 arrived in A Coruña, Spain at 11am on 7th May 2016 with the best train experience. Thanks to Interrail for making it a real once-in-a-life experience!
AEGEE-A Coruña warmly welcomed the team and offered us a nice time to relax and get ready for the sessions. Our host, Alejandra, took the team for lunch to boost their energy before going to a workshop. This revived the energy and enthusiasm of the team to go and discuss the Refugees and migration crisis in Europe.
AEGEE-A Coruña organized an event under the name “Whole of Europe is a theatre”. Isn’t it a curious title? Yes, it is! And the team was curious to find out what A Coruña youth thinks about Europe.
The workshop was organized into 5 mini sessions. The first session was about the introduction and presentation about Europe on Track 3; then, we presented and explained our personal experiences with mobility and travelling abroad and within Europe. The third session was an exercise on “Where does Europe End?”; the fourth session was a presentation about “Refugee Crisis in Europe: Do refugees pose a threat to Europeans?” which was followed by a critical debate. The last part of the workshop was a short questionnaire about Europe.
Mobility and traveling abroad. We realized that many youths in A Coruña have not benefited a lot of from exchange programs like Erasmus Scholarships or European Voluntary Service (EVS). On the other hand, many of them have enjoyed travelling within Europe through AEGEE programs. To them, AEGEE is really important in enhancing youth mobility and integration in Europe.
Where Does Europe End? This exercise was really fun, critical and worth doing. Each participant was given a map to draw a border on where he/she thinks Europe ends. Each participant came up with different borders on their maps. At the end, we all came to the conclusion that the borders to where Europe ends are not really known. Some of them were confused over the members of the European Union and those within Europe. At some point, participants were discussing if Luxembourg, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina they were part of Europe or not. The exercise was enjoyable and all were happy eventually to learn more about Europe.
Refugee Crisis in Europe and whether refugees pose a threat to Europeans. The presentation analyzed how someone can become a refugee and the process one goes through from being an asylum seeker to being accepted as a refugee. The youth in A Coruña was familiar with some refugees’ experiences in Turkey and Greece. Participants were shown the data on the number of refugees arriving per day in Greece, which is from 0-4500 and that Turkey has the largest number of refugees, over 2 million people. Finally, the presentation showed the amount of money already spent on the refugees. At the end of the presentation, a question was asked to all participants; do refugees pose a threat to Europeans?
The question led the participants to debate over the new topic, whether “Refugee crisis unites or divides Europe”. One side held the opinion that refugee crisis unites Europeans, especially when they came together to help other countries like Greece and Turkey and when the European civil society stood up for refugees with the Refugees Welcome movement that quickly spread through European society.
On the other side, some participants were reluctant to the acceptance of refugees into Europe and said the crisis divides Europe, because some countries do not agree on accepting refugees resettled in their own countries. Other topics related to this issue that are influencing some parts of society are Islamophobia, xenophobia, security protection over one’s national culture, and fear of the downgrading of the living conditions.
The workshop ended by neither party win nor another lose. All participants agreed that Europe has the political will and financial power to assist and help refugees. Finally, the questionnaires with short questions were distributed to the participants and all shared their answers to the questions asked and what can be improved for a better European future.
The workshop was successful due to the teamwork and great preparations of AEGEE-Coruna. Special thanks to Alejandra Pérez and Paula López, main responsibles of the local event, for making the ambassadors’ experience in A Coruña warm despite of the rain and very much worth it.
Our next stop is Barcelona. Stay tuned!