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Can the European project survive?

The project “Europe” is stumbling. Now more than ever. Opinions tend to differ sharply when it comes to questions concerning refugees, the rise of far right parties and racism against minorities.

The European Union seems to fall apart as countries discuss the leaving of this once-so-promising project. So the question arises, what can we – as individuals – do to save this venture? How can we make sure that our grandchildren will have the same privileges that we have now? 

I think the most basic and most important precondition is to be OPEN. To be open towards new cultures, new people, new habits. To be open towards new norms, new ideas, new point of views. Only when we mutually approach an issue, only then we can be a unit, Only when we communicate and put effort into understanding one another’s world view, only then we can ensure cohesion. If you want this unit to continue, challenge yourself: talk to people who have opposite beliefs to what you think is right. Have an open dialogue with these people and who knows, maybe they have something interesting to say. And even if they don’t, you have to speak with someone different than you, you might be learning something from that person that you wouldn’t have heard about without this encounter. 

Basically, it comes down to this: be open and communicate. Try to understand people with different backgrounds (not only concerning their home country, but also in terms of education, age, experience, ideologies, religions). This is the only way we can later raise children who will be as supportive as we are right now and who will fight for the survival of the project “Europe”. 

Every single person on this planet is prone to stereotypes and prejudices. But not a single person on this planet is forced to accept them for what they are. The same is true for the current situation in Europe. We can all do our share to keep this impressive project alive.

Text written in May 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Rebecca, 25 years old, from Germany and no longer “the new one” in the Madeira Heritage voluntary program. Experienced and educated in social psychology, but still not able to read people’s minds. Passionate about (classical) music, interculturality, and other people.


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.