Ideas worth spreading - HRG project winning the Charlemagne Youth Prize on national level

Although this is the main slogan for the TEDx conferences there is no better combination of words to use after spending four days in Aachen for the Charlemagne Youth Prize. It was already a great honour to find out that our HRG – Freedom in the 21st century project was a national winner in Sweden. The HRG has been part of Active already since 2011 and it was a privilege to continue the work that many people had put in before us and to build something new upon it. Even though we did not win in the finals, the feeling was great nonetheless to be one of the representatives between 28 countries. Four days might seem as not that much, but it was a remarkable experience with many great impressions and new contacts.

The challenging part is to know where best to begin telling about it all and to actually not miss something. The conference, the award ceremony, hearing all the projects and talking with people was a great combination all together. Tuesday was the official ceremony day, but before that all of the national winners, previous winners and jury members were part of the “Charlemagne Prize Forum on Europe”. During the forum serious topics were discussed about the future of Europe and what is the direction Europe is heading. As the speakers talked it was more clear that Europe at this moment needs to work together more than ever before, it can not afford being divided and hiding within the borders of each country. After listening to these matters some of us still continued debating over lunch about various points that Europe needs to put a lot of focus on. The forum was built in three parts, but our organizers had arranged for us to visit the cathedral of Aachen and have a lovely tour there. Afterwards we returned back for the speech of H.E. Martin Schulz where he emotionally talked about his feelings about Europe, his vision for it and what needs to be done so Europe would not only fix the crisis of today, but all the crisis that may yet to come.

 

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The Award ceremony. Already being in the town hall your breath was easily taken away by the architectural magnificence. Charlemagne has been an important figure back in his time and his legacy has been well preserved until these days. Everything was set and ready, and all there was for national winners and guests to do is to wait for the ceremony to begin. We were able to see small video presentations of each project, there were musical performances and light show during the ceremony. Martin Schulz gave a speech where he expressed his feelings of young people being involved and building a change through their projects and how necessary it is at this point. As the ceremony went on all three winners were announced. The third place went to United Kingdom, the second to Greece and the first to Italy. You can read the press release with small description about the winners here - http://www.charlemagneyouthprize.eu/en/press_releases.html

All these moments already brought a lot of impressions. Our organizers took great care of us all throughout the days. They arranged a tour of Aachen on Thursday morning with a chance of us to go to Maastricht as well. But what actually got me the most were the talks that I could have with the people there. I learned so many new things that I would like to try out myself, I met people who have created projects and implemented them on their own, who have worked and saved money for their ideas throughout the years. That was the part that inspired me the most. People who are willing to put a lot of effort and time in something they care about, where they want to bring something back to society. Maybe at first they are a bit unsure how it will all go, but once they take the first step, they just continue going. Having these talks about projects, ideas, things happening within EU and in their home countries was something I was most happy about.

 

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In short this has been my experience the Charlemagne Youth Prize and the days in Aachen. And now comes a long thank you to all the people who made it happen. Starting with all the organizers of the days in Aachen, for arranging everything for us, for taking care of us, for the evening activities, for answering any questions and for the fabulous award ceremony. To all the people with whom I had the chance to talk and gain new perspectives, who maybe not even knowing gave me a lot of inspiration. I can only say thank you and I hope that I meet you soon again! In addition I would just like to say thanks to Active for giving me this opportunity, to all of whom have been part of this project, to my prep-team who always managed to outdo themselves.  Although the biggest thanks goes to all the participants of the project, of all the people who were part of our trainings, who took their time to walk around and collect stories.  This award is for all of you, for your work put in and for your motivation to build small steps for a better tomorrow!

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