Opening Week 2017: Europe – Leuphana University

Dear first-year students, welcome to Lüneburg, welcome to Leuphana University, and of course, welcome to Leuphana University’s Opening Week! In the great ocean of human life, an ocean of challenges we heard about it, work, ideas, and concerns, our college shall be like a colorful coral reef. Your ideas and visions are like a rich variety of corals and fish animating the reef. Based on my perception, the most convincing, most intelligent, and I admit also the most challenging and most complicated answer on the irreversible effects of Globalization, so far, is Europe. Europe is the theme of the Opening Week 2017. Through this topic we want to empower students to face challenges on all levels, whether they be personal or political. All projects started with a creative and inspiring idea to find solutions for challenges that Europe is currently facing. So, we were thinking of the organization called „ECHO“, which stands for Educational Connecting Humanity Organization. And we are thinking of starting off with the primary schools, with the really young students. We just wanted to introduce the idea of Europe or the European Union to younger children because what we’re facing right now is an identity crisis. We wanted to introduce a school subject for all European students from middle school, so class eight or nine. We’re creating an online magazine to connect young people of different European countries with each other and, so, like there are magazines about Europe and the EU online, but like we don’t care about them, like they’re not interesting for people our age. Our idea was not to create an app for everyone to exchange, like to message, with other people in Europe, to get in contact with them. So, people get to know the other cultures. We thought of doing one „Europe House“ in every country and in this house there would be like festivals and like introductions and the traditions as like, for example cooking classes. I really, really like Europe. I travel a lot and I enjoy the freedoms that Europe provides me. I think as a union we can face problems more easily and develop easier and faster. We were honored to be joined by well-known, experienced political guests who used their understanding to provide input for students’ projects. We also were joined by coaches who gave personalized feedback on the developing ideas. We basically have the debate which kind of Europe we want. A Europe of rivalry between nation states or a Europe of common prosperity and the common coping of risks and consequences of disasters. There has never been a war between member states of the European Union. If we go back to the traditional nation states, unfortunately war will also find its way back to Europe. And that is my request and I encourage you to protect this creation of the European Union with all our strength. Because this European Union is founded on values and these values are the dignity of human beings. And when the dignity of human beings is identified as the core of all politics, it will result in political solutions. When we talk about Europe, and the Euopean Union, and the future it’s about the question how to defend a miracle. It’s a huge challenge and it’s not only a challenge for me, it’s mainly a challenge for you. We have so many news channels, we have so many people and things to get informed so the thing I find most exciting about the idea is to be more interactive. Maybe that’s a European program which is more prone to the European values and they’re more likely to join the project. Because really contacting people is a big, big deal. You often just post something on Facebook and you expect people to read it, but they never get the message. So, you need to think about how do you get there, so contacting these teachers could be a good way. The founding team are you, which means you’re located here in Lüneburg. Did you think about spreading your arms out wide as well? The input of the experts helped us to actually get known to those challenges and also how we could create such a project. It was extremely good because they were a little bit critical. Especially when it came to the costs problem. We obvioiusly really didn’t know how to get the money. They’re way more experienced than we are so they gave us a little bit of input how we could save some costs, but also how we could get money. So pretty much the lectures told us what the issues are. Like we all heard about Brexit in the past, but we kind of like specialized like a group that really isn’t a part of this and could be like a point where we could actually change something. To summarize and present their ideas, students produced short video clips. They explain their method of approach as well as their desired results. Yeah, so our challenge or our problem was that we recognized that there is kind of a lack of a common identity and that’s where we thought we could make a European beer: put information about the European Union and stuff on the tag, so beer makes people come together and talk and exchange. We collected different situations in which they can realize that the EU is part of their daily life and those things are just relevant for people and we wanted to show them so that they can raise their awareness and be grateful to EU standards. Welcome to our grand finale of the Opening Week 2017. I am really amazed at what I just encountered here in Lüneburg. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, that now, on a Friday morning, 1,500 students are sitting in across from me, who, if I understand correctly, are all here voluntarily. And that this has been the reaction throughout the week. I think that is great. And for that, I would like to thank you very much, especially the organizers. Great!

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