Alumni voices: 'My vision for Europe'
What do young people think of the European Union – and what visions do they have? At the central DAAD alumni event to mark the German EU Council Presidency, we spoke to four alumni to find out what they appreciate about the EU – and what they would like to improve.
Dóra Dömötör-Nagy, 22, is in her 5th semester studying theatre and media studies at the University of Bayreuth. The Hungarian went to the Deutsches Nationalitätengymnasium school in Budapest and is a scholarship holder on the DAAD’s 'German Schools Abroad' programme, which is funded by the Federal Foreign Office.
'Through student exchange projects I came into contact with young people from other European countries at an early age. In 2017 I took part in the final of the German-language debating competition "Jugend debattiert international" for Central and Eastern Europe in Tallinn. That was when I realised that I had developed a European identity. When someone asks me where I come from, my initial response is to say I’m European. National origins are secondary to me. I think in Europe we should focus on what we have in common rather than on the differences.'
Sotiris Mitralexis, 32, comes from Greece and holds three doctorates: in philosophy, theology and political science. While studying for his bachelor’s degree in classical philology, he spent a semester as an Erasmus scholarship holder at the Free University of Berlin. It was there that he also wrote his dissertation in philosophy, for which he received funding in the form of a DAAD scholarship from 2011 to 2014. Today, he is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Athens and Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Winchester in the UK.
'I belong to a generation that did not have to achieve European integration first but was born into the EU. One of the results of this is that many people no longer see the EU as an achievement, but blame it for all the problems that exist. I strongly believe we have to try to reintegrate those who are dissatisfied.'
Since October 2020, Mateusz Osiecki, 29, has been lecturer at the Institute of Air and Space Law at the Lazarski University in Warsaw. Prior to that, he taught International Public Law at Lódz University where he wrote his PhD thesis on legal aspects relating to international air terrorism In 2017, Osiecki undertook a four-month research stay, funded by the DAAD, at the University of Cologne.
'I have been very interested in aviation since childhood – yet I am aware that aviation must become much more environmentally friendly. As we know, air transport was hit very hard by the coronavirus crisis. My personal dream is to see aviation recover, taking on board the Green Deal adopted by the EU Commission 2019.'
Sofía González Gómez, 27, is taking a PhD in Hispanic Studies at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid. She has also served as a teaching assistant at the University of Alcalá. Her current research focus on the intellectual and cultural project of the liberal Spanish newspaper El Sol in the 1920s.
'I think education is an extremely important area of action for the EU as it has the potential to guarantee equal opportunities. At this historical moment, due to the global pandemic, this is more necessary than ever'
On 1 October 2020, to mark the German EU Council Presidency, the DAAD organised an event for its alumni from the 27 EU countries that focused on questions concerning the future of the EU. Leading German and European personalities took part in the event, which was organised under the patronage of Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and organised partly physically and partly virtually. See here for full details of the event.