Carlota Aldama Dunkerly from Spain
A learning experience
Hello! My name is Carlota and I’m a half Spanish, half English 23-year-old volunteer working in Pistes Solidaires. I have been in Pau since the beginning of September, helping out in different activities in the organization and drafting articles on news on the EU.
This is my first experience in an organization which has a European label, “Europe Direct Centre of Information” as it has allowed me to understand in great depth the challenges in current European issues.
Make Europe Great Again
On the first day of my arrival in Pistes, my coordinators presented the MEGA project (Make Europe Great Again), with great enthusiasm to me. This project, launched in October 2020, aims at reinforcing education about Europe in schools. Besides France, represented by Pistes, there are four other countries which also take part in the project consortium: Croatia, Germany, Portugal and Spain.
The idea of MEGA emerged in 2016, when the “YES” on the Brexit referendum took place and when Donald Trump won the American Elections. This year marked a strong wave of populist trends within the European union. One of the many reasons for the appearance of these nationalist trends is the lack of awareness on the history, construction and functioning of the European Union. To fight back this dangerous threat to the European values and member states sovereignty, Pistes Solidaires developed a project which focuses on students and teachers, learning about the EU.
“Students do not have a clear idea on the shared European values or the history of the Community they belong to”
Recent studies have shown the little, if any, time and work which is dedicated in school on learning about the European Union. Although it is mandatory in school curricula in France, for instance, at the end of the year, the students do not have a clear idea on the shared European values or the history of the Community they belong to! It is not just putting an end to populist ideas, but also developing a sense of belonging to the European Union.
Make Europe Great Again is a project which will be carried out through 3 years, from 2020 to 2023. The goal of this project is to raise young people’ awareness about Europe and the European Union by developing courses and materials in schools to improve students and teachers’ knowledge about European values, cultural heritage and the EU structure and impact. At the end of the project, there will be a platform with different resources for the learning or revision of certain topics on the EU for teachers’, as well as diverse material for teachers to use in class, while teaching about the EU. In order to have a feedback on the effectiveness and utility of the courses we propose, these activities will be tested throughout the years of the project in different schools in the 5 countries.
In order to make this project “alive”, every partner if the consortium will coordinate an Intellectual Output focused on one topic. At the moment, it is the Spanish partners who are leading the way for the first intellectual production, the “White Papers’”. For this Intellectual Output, each member of the project consortium has had the challenge to draft an analysis of how the European Union is taught in secondary schools, and the challenges it encounters. The available tools to teach about the EU will also be taken into account. The aim is to understand the context and to respond to the need of teachers and students, by creating materials for them about the EU. As from the month of February, it will be Pistes in charge of the second Intellectual Output, which will consist on the creation of the platform in which the future resources will be available for teachers’ learning and for the teaching of the EU to secondary school students.
I teach about Europe; my experience teaches me
Being part of the French team in this project has allowed me to immerse myself for the first time in a project funded by Erasmus+, and to understand the challenges of working with tight deadlines. It has also been an opportunity to learn more about the context in France, and in other European countries, regarding the teaching about the European Union. It has therefore been an excellent way to approach different cultures and ways of working inside the EU.