The European Week of Regions and Cities is celebrated with the aim of sharing, good practices and specialized knowledge in regional and urban development with officials of regional and local administrations, experts and representatives of the academic world.
My first time in the city of Brussels. My first time in the European Week of Regions and Cities. My first time writing about this. The second time I participate in the #EUinmyregion blog contest and the first time I am one of the 3 winners. Prize that allowed me to be part of Youth4Regions Media Program, for the first time too.
Like every first time, I'm excited, I do not know what I'm going to find, with whom, what the people I'll come across will contribute to me, what can I bring them, what expectations do I have besides absorbing as much information as possible, learning, sharing and enjoy.
The only thing I was clear about was that I was very happy to be able to attend, to see how it was organized, what activities there were, with what purpose everything was done and to meet other journalists and workers of the European Commission.
I have to confess that I was one of the oldest participants of Youth4Regions Media Program. That sometimes makes me ask myself: why did not I find out about these activities when I was younger? How many opportunities like this will I have lost? Now I am almost 30 years old. Too late? It's never too late. And if it was late, in any case, as the saying goes: "better late than never".
The answer may be that when I was younger, my mind was more in the United States, in "the American dream." I had seen too many American movies, probably. Maybe they were not the right ones. With 24 years I lived in New York, then in Puerto Rico. After these experiences, I realized that I needed to know better the continent in which I was born, Europe. So, on the way back, I got down to work. Until this event that I have arrived and has conquered me for the good work and for the people.
I did not think beyond giving the best of myself, enjoying those days as much as possible, attending all possible conferences and getting to know everyone possible.
Small details made her feel that she was in the right place at the right time and that Brussels was a city she already knew, in which she was not only passing through.
I coincided with several journalists from my same region, Murcia. The person in charge of Euractiv in Spain, managed by one of the largest communication agencies in the country, EFE, coincidentally, was born in Lorca, like me! We both smiled non-stop. She had the schedule very tight, she came only two days and she contacted me before I arrived in Brussels because she wanted us to meet and talk. He proposed a collaboration to write for Euractiv EFE in Spain. In this link you can read what I wrote about this week.
One of the RegioStars awards was for the Region of Murcia. What made me feel very proud. For the work carried out by Murcia and for the concrete project that was of labor integration and social inclusion for refugees in the category of migratory challenges.
Within countries, there are often stereotypes between regions. In Spain, there are many jokes about the lack of culture and the rude accent of the people of Murcia. Those from the north of Spain think that in the south you do not work, everybody naps, ... Living in Madrid and Galicia, I have been able to see what they think in other regions.
It was exciting to see during the awards ceremony, the live connection with Mohamad Tarek Gellawi, one of the refugees from Syria, telling his personal experience and how this program had helped his family and him.
It also made me feel very proud when five projects in Spain managed to win the Urban Innovative Awards, being the country that won the most awards.
In Europe there are also stereotypes. In general, the countries of the north think that the countries of the south, especially those close to the Mediterranean, are enjoying the sun and the beach all day. These kinds of awards help to break those stereotypes.
If I had to choose the most interesting moments of these five days for me, they were: Sunday, by the introduction; on Tuesday, for the awards gala and the meeting with the eight travelers of the Road Trip Project; Wednesday for the visit to Abattoir; on Thursday, for the activity with the IVY (Interreg Volunteer Youth) team and the official closing.
The first day, it was Sunday, when we met the 21 young people with the guide of the ambassadors and the team, they welcomed us all with open arms, we did the traning on storytelling and mobile journalism (mobile journalism). We agree with Josef, one of the participants in the same program the previous year, was this year covering the event for a medium in Malta, where he currently works.
The second official day of the event, third day for us # Youth4Regions was exciting for the aforementioned awards gala and for having met and had time to get to know the Road Trip Project travelers, of whom I have to confess, I was envious ( sana) for their lived adventure and at the same time, admiration for the work they did. They asked me to teach them some flamenco steps and Susan taught me how to do one of her favorite dance steps. How funny!
On Wednesday, I loved visiting Abattoir, I had my doubts about whether to go or not, by name. I confess that I had not looked at the web. After the visit, I loved knowing the project, a concept of urban agriculture, with innovative ideas, which takes into account the benefits for society, involves neighbors, people at risk of social exclusion and has well-defined objectives that go getting little by little.
On Thursday, the last day of the event. The corridors were already empty. There was more silence. For me it was an important moment because as a beneficiary of the IVY program, Interreg Volunteer Youth, I shared my experience with other volunteers and at the closing we were able to raise our doubts and concerns to: Corina Cretu, European Commissioner for Regional Policy; Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions and the guest, Anthony Gardner, Ambassador of the United States to the European Union.