News Overview 2014

Bellevue Programme Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

At a reception at Bellevue Palace, German Federal President Joachim Gauck praised the European perspective of the program, which not only strengthens European administration but also helps to contribute towards a stronger sense of European identity.

For a European Identity
Twelve scholarship holders and ten EU countries with one aim: to foster cooperation between public administrative bodies in Europe. In 2004, Robert Bosch Stiftung founded the Bellevue Programme in cooperation with the Office of the Federal President. The fellowship program has the aim of fostering dialog between young officials from the upper administrative bodies of EU member states. During 15-month exchange placements in European ministries, the scholarship holders hone their language skills and knowledge of the host country, thus fostering European dialog for the purpose of international understanding.

Ten years and 92 participants later, the program will be celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2014. At a reception at Bellevue Palace, German Federal President Joachim Gauck praised the European perspective of the program, which not only strengthens European administration but also helps to contribute towards a strong sense of European identity. Among those in attendance included program participants Ana Patricia Severino and Roberto Felicetti. They both spoke of their experiences in Germany in an interview.

“I Don’t Feel Like There Are Any Borders Anymore”

Ana Patricia Severino and Roberto Felicetti took part in the Bellevue Programme. In the interview they talk about their experiences in Germany.
  • What does Europe mean to you?

Felicetti: I would like to give an example: I think of myself as Italian because I was born in Italy – but sometimes I think like the ancient Greeks! Although we’re not born European, wherever we come from – Italy, France, or Germany – we can become Europeans in a cultural sense over the course of our lives by sharing and experiencing the contributions of every culture, for example through education.
Severino: For me, Europe is above all a place of safety and security.

  • How did you come across the Bellevue Programme?

Severino: I read about it at work and applied straightaway. After doing my Erasmus year in Cologne, I always dreamed of working at the European level. I also found it exciting to be able to go back to Germany after studying there.
Felicetti: It was similar for me, too! I came across a leaflet about the Bellevue Programme and immediately thought that it would be something for me! I lived in Germany for a time 12 years ago and am delighted to be returning to the country.

  • Ms. Severino, you’ve been living in Berlin for a year now. Can you remember how it was for you when you first arrived?

Severino: The start of my time in Berlin was a great adventure! I moved to Berlin with my whole family and one of my daughters was very reticent about speaking German to start with. Now she’s fluent and can’t imagine moving back to Portugal!

  • You’re both now familiar with the German corporate and work culture. How does it differ from your own?

Felicetti: The Germans always have to analyze everything and know exactly how something works. I feel that the German language reflects society because it is very specific. The words are very precise and easy to understand. In contrast, the Italians are as varied as the words in their language, where several meanings can be represented by the same phoneme.
Severino: I find that the Germans are not as reserved in the workplace as I first thought. But they are very well organized and results driven. Appointments are made – and kept.

  • What are your compatriots better at in your view?

Severino: Because of the fact that not everything is so well organized in Portugal, I think that maybe the Portuguese are better at reacting to unexpected situations. After all, they’re part of our everyday life! (laughs)

  • The Bellevue scholarship lasts for 15 months. What do you want to achieve in this time?

Severino: I’m currently working on improving bilateral cultural relationships. Because I’ve worked in the world of film, I want to focus on fostering the collaboration between Germany and Portugal in this area. I also want to promote a positive image of my country! It’s amazing how few Germans know the country and its people, and the language seems completely foreign to them – I’d like to change that.
Felicetti: I hope to be able to make suggestions for partnerships and also to get ideas about how we can make improvements in the public sphere in Italy. I want to learn from the Germans about how bureaucracy can be simplified.

  • Ms. Severino, you’ve been a Bellevue scholarship holder for a year now. How has your life changed?

Severino: I now have a more international viewpoint and another way of seeing the world. My fears and insecurities have disappeared, because I don’t feel like there are any borders anymore. I can work anywhere in Europe and feel at home there.

  • Mr. Felicetti, what are you most looking forward to?

Felicetti: After an absence of 12 years, I want to be able to see the country with a fresh perspective. One thing I’m certain of is that there is more that unites us than makes us different.

Ana Patricia Severino

Ana Patricia Severino, 41, from Portugal, was previously with the Portuguese state secretary for culture and is now a Bellevue scholarship holder with the Federal Government Commission for Culture and the Media since September 2013.

Roberto Felicetti

Roberto Felicetti, 42, from Italy, worked as an engineer at Bosch for over three years in Vimbuch near Bühl, most recently worked at the Italian customs agency, and will be starting his Bellevue scholarship at the Federal Ministry of Finance in January 2015.