Wednesday, 11 July 2012 06:34

From Visegrad summer school

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Seeing as any story needs a hero, let's begin with the intriguing Czech girl (Alexandra is her name) who asked me if I was going to write anything about this event for E&M. Visegrad Summer School is a two-week intensive workshop for young Eastern Europeans in Villa Decius - a beautiful 16th century architectural gem that is a residence of the leading Kraków cultural foundation/NGO.

Besides Poles there are Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Georgians, Russians, Slovenians, Romanians and last (but definitely not least) one lone Armenian girl who is great at discussing the fascinating cultural heritage of that ancient European state, or the current shortcomings of the Eastern Partnership initiative in the Caucasus region.

Even though it's just been one day, I've already fallen in love with the atmosphere. The main aim of the VSS is to integrate the young people of the region and give them a unique chance to share ideas, work together intensively and try to launch some future projects. Hence, you can only imagine what an exciting opportunity the Visegrad Summer School provides for anyone interested in Eastern Europe. Beyond the typical summer school workshops (which, here, are attended by ministers, ambassadors and policy makers of the region) the best thing is that you meet all these fascinating people from Eastern Europe. We investigated the diverse meanings of (to paraphrase Czesław Miłosz) "our native" part of the Old Continent.

How many chances will you have to discuss your views on the former Czech President with Czechs and Slovaks?

Our discussions have taken us from historical research into 19th century Hungarian nationalism, to energy policies in Central-Eastern Europe, and human rights protection. That only gives you a fascinating chance to perceive how complex European issues really are, when seen "under Eastern eyes." 

I disagreed with some of the points made about Václav Havel during the opening lecture by the Polish President secretary, who talked about his personal experiences with the Czechoslovak dissidents. But still, how many occasions will you have to discuss your own written views on the former Czech president with Czechs and Slovaks? Or to discuss Viktor Orbán’s politics with Hungarians (one of whom is proficient in Polish!) sipping a beer in one of the "stylish" pubs in the Jewish district of Kraków? I've even fulfilled one of my dreams - to talk my beloved melodious Ukrainian language with one or two beautiful Ukrainian girls... All just on the first day of the VSS!

Coming back to Alexandra (the intriguing Czech girl from the beginning of the article), the first question she asked me (even before the E&M article) was something like: "what would you like to do when you grow up?" Apparently the answer isn't that simple. Nevertheless, what I've found out already is that I'd love to work with such amazing people as are here. Moreover I'm pretty sure that during the forthcoming debates and workshops the answer may become even more clear as we're going to consider the future of liberal democracy, V4 cooperation and the role of the Eastern European initiatives in the EU.

So (even though it might sound a bit like a cheap ad) if you're interested in Eastern Europe and you'd like to spend the two stunning weeks with brilliant people in the beautiful city of Kraków - I'd recommend the Visegrad Summer School!

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 12:59
Ziemowit Jóźwik

Ziemowit Jóźwik is 23. Coming from Bieliny, a small village in the Holy Cross Mountains (Poland), he is now based in the more well known city of Krakow. Having written for Europe & Me since Issue 5 he will now take on the challenge of expanding our knowledge of the eastern borders of the European landscape. His blog will explore how European issues are understood 'under Eastern eyes.'

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