On 23 June this year, the Republic of Moldova received the status of candidate country for accession to the European Union. With this landmark event in the country’s history comes the need to inform citizens about the EU, what it stands for, its core values and how it works, as well as the opportunities that accession offers, especially for the new generation, young people who will soon become specialists in different fields.
With this in mind, the network of Young European Ambassadors, an initiative supported by the EU, has taken the responsibility to go from school to school, explaining to high school students all the behind-the-scenes details of the great community of European states and citizens that Moldova is hoping to join. Recently, nine young ambassadors travelled to the north of the country, to the city of Ocnița, where they met pupils at the Mihail Sadoveanu High School.
Although this was the first time they have visited the school, the Young European Ambassadors received a warm and very friendly welcome. After the round of introductions, a question-and-answer session followed. Pupils were asked what they knew about the fundamental values of the EU, when the European Union was founded and how many countries are currently members of the bloc.
The most active were rewarded for the correct answers with… chocolates, and as the motivation grew sweeter, so did the number of those willing to answer the questions from their guests, and to become more actively involved in the discussion.
The coordinator of the Young European Ambassadors, Daniel Bâzdâga, said the high school in Ocnița had not been chosen by chance.
“We have always planned to reach as many regions of Moldova as possible. This time we decided to go where we haven’t been before. In Ocnița we are here for the first time. We came to talk to young people about the European Union, how the community works, how it cooperates with our country and to tell them about the opportunities that the European Union offers to young people in Moldova,” he explained.
Students’ interest in European values is very high. Attending the event, Ovidiu Năftănăilă, the First Collaborator of the Romanian Embassy in Chisinau, said he was impressed by the enthusiasm and involvement of young people in the discussions about the EU.
“Trying to gain a better understanding of the values of the European Union, which the Republic of Moldova hopes to join, is absolutely normal and beneficial for young people of this age. I have seen that the students are active, very energetic and interested. I am convinced that the Republic of Moldova has a bright future with young people of such quality,” said Năftănăilă.
The teachers of the Mihail Sadoveanu Theoretical High School aim to involve their students in as many information projects as possible, including about the opportunities that young people can have by applying to various EU-funded programmes.
“Like any institution, we want our students to have a better future, so the teachers try to motivate and involve them in various cross-border educational projects. But, as an institution, we are somewhat limited in our activities, which is why we wanted students to be informed and access some of the opportunities they can find with the help of the Young European Ambassadors. The children were enthusiastic, curious, and we hope they will continue to get involved in different activities like this,” said the school’s Deputy Director for Training, Virginia Aducovschii.
And what about the students themselves? Did they find the information useful?
“I really liked it, and I think that such meetings are welcome for students of our high school because here in Ocnița, there are not many opportunities and we do not have access to much information. I think it was very interactive because we learned about the EU through the presentations and personal stories of the Ambassadors,” said Dmitrii Cucer, one of the high school students actively involved in the discussions.
The presentation ended with a quiz consisting of 13 questions. Students who answered correctly and ranked in the top seven also received prizes.
So far, the Young European Ambassadors have visited more than 110 schools across the country, informing students and presenting development opportunities to which young people can apply.
Earlier, the EU Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, Jānis Mažeiks, said the primary purpose of this kind of activity was to bring Europe closer to the younger generation in Moldova.
“Young people are the most important agents of change. They play an essential role in building peaceful and democratic societies. Through such events, we want to bring Europe closer to young people in the Republic of Moldova, to introduce them to the culture, values and traditions that the EU and its members offer and, last but not least, to show them that we are with them through the various programmes and opportunities we offer,” said Jānis Mažeiks.
The Young European Ambassadors Initiative (YEAs) is a non-political, voluntary, vibrant communication network connecting young people from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, the EU Member States and the United Kingdom. The network aims to inform young people about the EU’s cooperation with its Eastern partner countries, share the results of this cooperation and participate in international events. There are currently over 500 active YEAs, representing over 34 different nationalities, including 85 in the Republic of Moldova. The initiative is open to young people aged 16 to 26 who are interested in public diplomacy and want to share experience, knowledge and information with their peers. To become a member of this network, young people can apply each year, usually in the autumn.
Author: Ana Baciu
Article published in Romanian by Agora.md
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