Europe is more than just bureaucracy and parliamentary debates: above all, Europe represents peace, human rights, and democracy. These ideas, however, are often difficult to grasp for young people. Since 2007, the SchulBrücke (school bridge) project has been providing the opportunity for encounters and exchange between students from all over Europe. During four project weeks in various German cities, the participants talked about the future of the continent. The goal is that an excitement for Europe and the desire to participate in politics grows from these personal encounters and experiences.
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the SchulBrücke project, the 48 participants from this year’s cohort met with teachers and alumni at the Heidehof in Stuttgart, home of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. There, they took part in workshops on topics such as cohesion and sustainable agriculture, discussed various possibilities for the involvement of young people in Europe, and contemplated how the continent might look in the near future.
We asked some of the participants about what Europe means for them personally. Read the students’ answers in our photo gallery.
"For me, Europe is a community above all else. Although we may come from different countries and speak different languages, I believe that we are all the same, more or less. Our differences shouldn’t separate us. On the contrary, we actually need our differences."
"I want to improve my German and get to know other countries and cultures. Europe is a great place to do that. On top of that, European cooperation is good for the economy."
"My home is part of Europe – it’s where my family lives and a place where I feel safe and free. What’s more, we need each other in Europe to learn respect and tolerance!"
"I have already been to several European countries and learned about many different people and traditions along the way. But above all, I felt like I was at home in all of them. You might say that Europe is one big home for me."
"For me, Europe and the EU represent peace, community, and cohesion between different countries – so it’s important that we take up the banner for Europe so it doesn’t disintegrate once again into isolated nations."
"I know that Europe is made up of many different countries – but I usually think of it as just one big country."
"The first thing I see in Europe is potential. The EU isn’t especially stable at the moment – we need to grow together and not only focus on economic issues. I think citizens from all countries would ultimately benefit from that."
"Europe represents peace, human rights, diversity, freedom, Erasmus – all those things. We cannot take that for granted. It might sound dramatic, but we have to fight for and defend that!"