From Sunday 30 November to Thursday 4 December 240 youth gathered near Brussels to share what it means to live in another European country for 3 months and be part of the European Citizenship Trimester Programme – ECTP, the exchange programme run by AFS organisations in Europe and coordinated by EFIL.
This meeting is the so-called ECTP Brussels Camp which adds a powerful learning dimension to the AFS trimester exchange programme. In fact, participants not only share their experiences of living in another family and going to a different school, but they reflect how this unique experience can empower them to be active citizens in Europe and in their communities.
Participants attended workshops on different topics linked to what Europe is and what it means to be European. Topics included immigration to Europe, feeling European through social media or through music, different daily routines in Europe, Children’s rights in Europe, European values, decision making in European institutions, opportunities for young people to participate in decision making at European level.
Exactly, the ECTP Brussels Camp is not only about becoming aware of belonging to Europe, but also about starting to act to make Europe a better place to be. Participants engaged in workshops where they made videos for campaigning for the right to education, a campaign for donating to disadvantaged people at Christmas, to recycle, to raise awareness of LGBT rights, to be more inclusive towards all kinds of diversities, start volunteering, changing their cities, be nicer to their neighbours and doing small things that can make a big difference, engage in citizen’s journalism…
Here you can have a look at some of the videos to raise awareness of children’s rights:
The ECTP Brussels Camp is not only about workshops and planning to take action, but also getting to know directly what Europe and active participation in European society is all about. Participants went on a trip to the Brussels city centre where they visited the European Parliament and met three Members of the European Parliament from Austria: the AFS returnees Ulrike Lunacek and Karin Kadenbach, and Michel Reimon. The youth group also took the chance to explore the city centre of Europe’s capital.
All this has been possible thanks to the efforts of a great team of 47 volunteers from all over Europe who prepared the content of the workshops and coordinated the logistics of this huge event located at two venues – Destelheide and Hanenbos – to host all the participants.
The programme is growing year by year, and for this year’s edition we were happy to welcome Egypt as hosting country. Next year we hope to have participants from Sweden, Romania, UK, Ireland and Turkey!