This week was one of the most useful weeks that I have ever faced. This, following the many new cultures met and the friendships made. Having never really been in continuous contact with people from Poland, Norway, Bulgaria and Romania this week has had an enourmous inpact on me and, I know for sure, on the other people as well. Now we have learned about all these new and intriguing ways of life because of all the traditional dinners and the activities we undertook in the Netherlands. I learned that the Romanians, Bulgarian and the Polish are not people that should be despised and looked down on. The people that for me have represented those countries were the friendliest and most inspiring young people I have ever met, welcoming us in to their homes with the greatest humility and dignity. Showing us what real pride was towards their nations. These were people who looked in to the future with a confidence that no-one could overthrow. The Norergians weren’t the bleak and rigid Norsemen I had anticipated. They were instead, after having met them, I believe, one of the most kindhearted people I ever spoke to. Showing their liberality and greatest humility in every word they said or action they undertook. This week has brought me many new insights, not only just on a social level, moreover giving me new insights on a cultural level, having learned from and the Dutch and the Norwegian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Polish cultures. This week has granted me, I think, with assets that I can and will use for a great deal of my life. I want to thank everyone who helped us participate in this special program.
Jean-Pierre Halbertsma, Sorghvliet Gymnasium The Hague, September 2015
I was one of the students taking part in the project: ‘Europe without prejudices: how to solve the puzzle of cultural diversity’ in my home town: The Hague. It was truly a great and memorable experience. For a week there were about 40 students from all across Europe staying here. We spoke English to each other, and there were almost no problems communicating. But because I’m halve Bulgarian, I could also fluently speak with the Bulgarian students. Which made me realise how important language can be. And I noticed that, however many Europeans can comprehend English, the native tongue is still a very important tool for communication and bonding.In this week we had discussions and received interesting talks about Europe and collaboration between European Nations. What became clear to me, is that we could solve a lot of problems, if we work together. And discrimination is preventing us from doing that right now. People have a lot of prejudices about other countries, and about people that they’ve never met. To have a good future and live peacefully together on one continent, we need to diminish the discrimination and prejudices. An easy task? No. But this project made me feel very positive about it, and I think it must be possible: one week of doing activities and being together with other students, showed me that a Romanian and a Dutchman can go along, that somebody from Poland and Norway can be friends, and that we sell ourselves short if we let prejudices prevent new friendships. Every night there was a traditional evening, where we learned about each other’s countries and cultures. It showed us that every country has its own history and pride, and that we should embrace this diversity, not scowl upon it. All this, learned from one week of having a lot of fun, and enjoying the company of many fellow Europeans… All I can say: the 20 km bike ride every day was definitely worth it!
Willem Kalkman, Sorghvliet Gymnasium The Hague, September 2015
MY EXPERIENCE: FRIENDSHIP THROUGH UNDERSTANDING.
Due to the activities and the time we spent together, we learned a lot not only about irrational judgements but also about the things that bond us. The most important thing I learnt is that the bad things you thought about the other countries are not true. Regardless our different cultures, we all are people who are giving their best shot at life. We do not resemble the distorted image that is presented as the truth. I am very thankful for the possibility to participate in this project because it helped me to understand more about each other and it also brought me new friends from different cultures. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your beliefs are, we can all get along with each other and this is important because our destiny is not written for us, but by us. I hope the foundation continues this project that gives many the opportunity to learn valuable lessons and build precious memories. I learnt how the EU is formed, we discussed what we could do about current problems and we had the possibility to ask questions in order to broaden our understandings and horizons. Each evening was a traditional evening. This idea is simple but the outcome is complex. During their traditional evening, each group told us about their culture and we got to taste some of their traditional food.
Alex Neagu, Sorghvliet Gymnasium The Hague, September 2015