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A Europe for my grandchildren

When I read about the topic for this month’s article, at first I was a bit overwhelmed. What can I as a single person contribute to the European Union? How can I help to preserve the values of this uniting project? 

And then, after second thoughts, I realized: yes, even my young generation can do a lot to guarantee that there will also be a Europe for our grandchildren. Let’s start with something that is going to happen this month – the European elections. On the 26th of May we have the chance to vote for the European Parliament and indirectly for our all future. Each one of us can decide which party he or she wants to support with the vote and as a consequence one state, whose topics are important to him or her in the near future. Do you vote for a pro or contra European party? Do you choose migration or economy? Is the environment the most important topic or the defense system of the EU?
Only one small cross on a (ballot) paper can make a difference for all future generations. 

Furthermore, we have to demand a change of the European Union. We have to go to demonstrations, write letters and emails, speak up in order to make the politicians realize that change is needed. The EU has to be less centralized, an inclusive union of diverse countries that gives everyone the feeling that they’re a part of it. And not only the people in Brussels. 

I, as a person that has already benefited a lot from European projects, have to share my experiences with other young people. I have to show people what great things can happen if you use the opportunity to go abroad. I have to promote the ERASMUS projects and my positive thoughts about it. “I have” should be replaced by “I want” – because I want to make people realize all the positive sides of the European Union and all the things we should be grateful for: Freedom, peace and unity. I want that one day my grandchildren are able to experience these things too.

Text written in May 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

I’m Jana Berchtold, a 19-year-old volunteer from Austria who enjoys being in nature and likes to travel – even if it’s sometimes just between the pages of a book.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth, and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing to a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.