Today was a day we had been looking forward to: after months of preparation, we were finally going to meet the barrios-kids. Host place was the UCAB-university, where our Venezuelan colleagues study. Remarkable about the location is that this university is surrounded by the landscape of barrios (tiny houses built upon hills), very impressive. Each member of the Bello-Belgo team was assigned a high school with their corresponding students and Venezuelan faculties. Koen worked together with the Liceo Felipe Fermin Paul, Peter was assigned the Colegio Don Pedro (what’s in a name?), Michael had the honor to cooperate with the Colegio Andy Aparicio and Kin-Chi took care of the Escuela Canaima.
Our day consisted out of 2 parts:
During the morning, country presentations were given to the kids, as well as providing assistance in making their proposition papers. For the kids, this support was meant as final preparation before entering the SIMUN (San Ignacio Model United Nations) competition next week. This contest is similar to the more famous WorldMUN, but on a youth level. To work with the barrios kids is a real challenge, as their received education level is commonly lower than what middle-and high class students get taught in private schools. Patience is therefore an indispensable skill, but these kids looked very motivated and eager to learn something about European countries. Basically, we want to show these kids that they could do more with less, and that they don’t have to feel inferior to any other kid, regardless of their social background.
In the afternoon, a comprehensive presentation on the European Union was scheduled to be given to our Venezuelan colleagues. Our goal was not to explain how this institution looked like and how it works (we can all find it on Wikipedia), but what happens behind the scenes :
What is this so called EU-feeling? What binds us together? How come we work so well together while our cultural background is so different? How come we are so ‘united in diversity’? Even for ourselves, these questions were not evident. How could we wrap up a history of 60 years (Paris Treaty ’51) in a dynamic and ‘light’ presentation of 2 hours? We could have jumped out of a window, but we decided to take up this challenge. After 2 weeks of blood, sweat and tears, Peter kicked the presentation off with the history of EU and the EU nowadays, and gave the floor on to Kin-Chi, who talked a bit more about the history of the Eurozone and the current eurocrisis.
At 6pm, we all left the building with a very satisfied feeling and decided to celebrate this good start with some ‘Ronnies’ from Santa Teresa (slang for Coke-rum), worlds best rum… and brewed in Venezuela!
To finish this post, I don’t want to hold back some interesting ‘did you know’ facts we encountered during the making of our country presentations. Did you know that :
• Santa Claus was born in Turkey?
• Ireland is the only English speaking country in the Eurozone?
• Brussels houses more ambassadors, journalists and lobbyists than Washington DC?
• Italy has the lowest birthrate in all of Europe. How strange since Italian families are so large!
Ps : click here for more pictures of this day