A new program from the European Union – House of Europe – was launched in Ukraine. This program was created to promote professional and creative exchange between Ukrainians and their colleagues in EU states.
During the next three years, House of Europe with the budget of 12.2 million euros will implement over 20 various programs in the fields of culture and creative industries, education, social entrepreneurship, medicine, media and youth relations.
UM asked Christian Diemer, Head of House of Europe, about details of this program to encourage our readers to gain experience in Europe and share their own. Christian himself hails from Germany, and a while ago, Ukraine inspired him to gather and study folklore, which even helped him gain a PhD degree.
— Christian, why did the EU decided to launch House of Europe in Ukraine at this time?
— We see a huge cultural and creative potential in Ukraine. We believe that dialogue between people is the best instrument of combating disinformation and propaganda. Moreover, it benefits us, because the exchange of ideas always enriches both parties. Overall, we see a huge demand for cultural and intercultural initiatives.
— What does House of Europe place an emphasis on?
— First of all, House of Europe enables people to make their ideas come true. It could be funding of a landscape architect’s trip to a European conference, or support of a joint project by a Ukrainian and a Spanish theater. Or, just a consultation about the best way of submitting an application for a contest or running an own creative business. We have more than 20 programs encompassing various sectors: culture and creative industries, education, youth relations, social entrepreneurship, media, healthcare. And all of them serve the same purpose of promoting personal development of Ukrainians.
— What can House of Europe give to Ukrainian youths? And are there any age restrictions for participation in your program?
— Let me stress that many offers from House of Europe are geared toward professionals, and it doesn’t matter how old they are. And for some programs, you would even have to prove that you have extensive experience under your belt.
However, House of Europe also has several program lines oriented toward young people: youth camps for those who want to become agents of changes; events for the youngest participants who will be offered the first intercultural experience, which would probably change their life. Moreover, House of Europe is going to start next year a domestic university exchange in Ukraine like the one offered by its “elder brother” Erasmus, but between various regions of Ukraine.
— How will your program work in Ukrainian regions?
— It is important for us that our program goes beyond the “Kyiv bubble” and devotes attention to small and medium cities. Our mobile pavilion will travel Ukrainian cities: we plan to work closely with local hubs — already developed places for local communities to meet and exchange experience, and to support creative entrepreneurs in regions.
“Ukrainians will discover Europe and Europeans Ukraine”
— What results does House of Europe expect?
— We work with six sectors which are a part of reforms taking place in Ukraine. We hope that we’ll be able to help Ukrainian specialists become even more successful and inspired in what they are working on now. Among the advantages which we as a EU project can offer them are international networks and partners, intercultural exchange and cooperation, and therefore, the knowledge of fresh approaches, new ways of thinking and methodologies.
It is worth noting that this is not a one-way road. Citizens of the European Union know too little about Ukraine despite its huge importance for the EU. House of Europe will promote bilateral exchange: Ukrainians will discover Europe and Europeans Ukraine. This way, a path will be laid toward dialogue, mutual understanding and even certain passion of a representative of one country for another.
— How to become a participant of your program? How many steps must be taken?
— It depends on the particular program, and therefore, it’s better to read the relevant instructions for all details. To learn about the opportunities offered by our program and requirements to participants, visit our website and check out the “Opportunities” section at houseofeurope.org.ua/opportunities.
It is important to submit duly issued documents. However, you would also have to explain how your work would benefit the society. In other words, the opportunities offered by House of Europe must give an impetus to professional growth, improve work procedures at your school, hospital or museum, or promote creation of an international network of your cultural organization.
— How transparent will the selection mechanism be? How will you protect yourself against the so-called “grant-eaters”?
— The decisions concerning selection of candidates will be made by experienced specialists in every field. These are the people who oversaw and managed many (including grant-funded) projects. We do not disclose their names to protect them against the pressure from applicants. The criteria used by our experts to evaluate applications are openly available in our application completion instructions posted on our official website.
We are sure that we will receive applications from people with substantial experience in working with grants. However, we created several mechanisms which will give preference to applications from “fresh” candidates from the country’s peripheral areas.
Generally speaking, the entire concept of House of Europe is built on the idea of reaching out to people who need our support the most, not people for whom exploring an opportunity is just another task. That’s why we bring House of Europe to regions, offer trainings and webinars (where we explain how to submit an application), and try to help at any stage and answer any questions the candidates might have.
“Ukraine inspired me to study folklore”
— Christian, this is not your first visit to Ukraine. Why are you interested in our country?
— The first time I visited Ukraine was in 2006. Ten years ago, I was responsible for Eurobus project. We were providing informational support concerning the European Union’s opportunities to young people in regions and promoting their communication with contemporaries in EU countries. This work was a sort of a forerunner of House of Europe.
Ukraine inspired me to study Ukrainian folk music. I studied such urban hipster phenomena as DakhaBrakha, and also, songs sung by old women in the Carpathians. I did a field study of the role of traditional music in formation of Ukrainian national identity and its effect on globalization and the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine. All that took place during one of the most dramatic periods in history of Ukraine, when revolution and war largely changed the worldview. I am extremely happy that now I can help maintain the path of Ukraine’s development via development of people.
— How would you characterize the contemporary Ukrainian youth?
— I am captivated by Ukrainians, particularly the young generation, their idealism and creativity. If people in Ukraine are active, the relation between what they do and how it influences the society can hardly be missed. It makes them more inspired in comparison with their contemporaries from intellectual environment in self-complacent EU countries, who easily get lost in ivory towers and academic self-references.
By Myroslava Makarevych