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ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP: WE ARE ALL PROTAGONISTS

Amelia Ignone is a young lady coming from a small town of the south-east of Italy. She graduated in Business Economy. Amelia is currently dedicating herself to cultural and political activities in her town, Mesagne, where she lives. That's why she kindly delivered to ALDA an article about the importance of being all protagonists in social and political life, stressing the key role that Europe and citizens have to play to build a better future.

"Italy, as well as all the other countries of the European Union, is facing a representation and democratic crisis, caused by the general disaffection of people towards political life, but also by the economic and financial crisis, which is dramatically hitting our old continent. Active participation of citizens to political and institutional decisions is a goal which is becoming increasingly difficult to be achieved, because of the absence or the collapse of intermediate bodies, such as trade unions, political parties and associations. At the same time, active participation is the only way to involve citizenship and reach concrete decisions aimed at achieving the common good.
The emergence of social networks facilitated and incremented the individual participation, but on the other hand it also devaluated the significance of the word "sharing". A single click is not enough to make a message accessible to all, or to translate a collective problem into a goal of the policy agenda, or in a common struggle to be solved at the institutional level. Unfortunately, participation often took on the meaning of protest as an end unto itself, generating feelings of anger that won't turn into a positive force, and contributing, at the contrary, to the development of disaffection towards political life, mistrust towards governmental bodies and abstention to vote, which is the only real instrument for democracy.
The European Union, entity in constant movement and expansion, lives the conflict mentioned above trying not to be detached from citizens that often prefer to jealously preserve the sovereignty of their own country. We can boast the union of the countries, the monetary union, but not a real political union. As a consequence, we recognize a political body which often seems to be inappropriate in solving those critical issues gripping our continent.
We cannot and we must never go back. We can only improve the European Union, working at the creation of the United States of Europe and developing that "sense of belonging" that is still absent among European citizens. The EU is definitely the new frontier in the affirmation of new development policies, welfare and improvement, thanks to the resources released by the new programming period 2014-2020.
Being European citizens doesn't mean simply to have the same currency, but first and foremost to consider themselves an active part of a common political project, to be protagonists within the distinctive thought of Altiero Spinelli, which brought to the development of the European community. If the European Union radically changes direction, trying to get detached from technicalities and bureaucrats, it will make a positive contribution towards enhancing the participation of citizens to political life, bridging the gap between institutions and younger generations, which are becoming more and more discouraged from believing in a better future, stepping away from decisions that affect them.
This is the only way – also for a young person coming from a small town of the south of Italy – to recognize ourselves in the European project, to feel as active part in the political and institutional framework, and to be proud of participating to the shared decisional processes. This participative process directly involves the contribution of the EU countries and their policies.
It's an uphill struggle, but this is the way we need to go! Every individual citizen has to act, using every available means, in order to be protagonist in political life, thus contributing to the construction of a better Europe".


Ita
CITTADINANZA ATTIVA: SIAMO TUTTI PROTAGONISTI
Amelia Ignone, è una ragazza di 24 anni, proveniente da una piccola città del sud-est d'Italia. Si è laureata in Economia del Commercio presso l'Università "Aldo Moro" di Bari. Da sempre è particolarmente interessata alle questioni di carattere politico, e in passato è stata responsabile di alcuni mandati in partiti.
Attualmente, Amelia si dedica ad attività culturali e politiche nella sua città, Mesagne, dove vive. Ha preso parte ad iniziative di volontariato e ha inoltre scritto articoli per alcuni giornali locali. Tra i suoi caratteri distintivi, abbiamo riscoperto una forte passione per i libri e l'informazione, oltre ad una straordinaria volontà d'essere una cittadina attiva. È per questo motivo che Amelia ha gentilmente rilasciato ad ALDA un articolo sull'importanza di essere protagonisti nella vita sociale e politica, sottolineando il ruolo chiave che l'Europa e i cittadini devono svolgere per costruire un futuro migliore.

L'Italia come il resto dei Paesi dell'Unione Europea stanno attraversando una crisi della democrazia e della rappresentanza, causate sia dalla disaffezione della gente alla vita politica e anche dalla drammatica crisi economico-finanziaria che sta colpendo il vecchio continente. La partecipazione attiva dei cittadini alle decisioni di carattere politico-istituzionale diventa sempre più difficile per l'assenza o il disfacimento dei corpi intermedi, come sindacati, partiti politici e associazioni, ma allo stesso tempo è l'unica forma per coinvolgere la cittadinanza e per raggiungere decisioni volte al bene comune.
L'avvento dei social network ha da un lato facilitato e incrementato la partecipazione del singolo, ma ha anche svuotato il significato della parola condivisione. Non è sufficiente un click per rendere fruibile a tutti un messaggio e per far sì che il problema di un collettivo diventi agenda politica o battaglia comune per raggiungere la risoluzione sul piano istituzionale. Partecipazione ha spesso assunto esclusivamente il significato di protesta purtroppo fine a se stessa creando masse arrabbiate ma non trasformando, poi, ciò in forza propositiva, ma contribuendo alla disaffezione dalla vita politica, alla sfiducia nei confronti degli organismi governativi e all'astensionismo dal voto, unico vero strumento di democrazia.
L'Unione Europea, organismo in continuo movimento ed espansione, vive il conflitto prima esplicitato e vive cercando di non sembrare estraneo ai cittadini che spesso preferiscono conservare , gelosamente, la sovranità del proprio Stato. L'unione dei Paesi, l'unione monetaria ma ancora non una vera e propria unione politica, quindi un organismo che spesso appare inadatto alla risoluzione delle questioni fondamentali che attanagliano il nostro continente.
Indietro non si può e non si deve tornare si può solo migliorare l'Unione Europea, lavorando alla creazione degli Stati Uniti d'Europa e creando quel senso di appartenenza che ancora manca tra i cittadini europei. Sicuramente l'UE è la nuova frontiera per affermare nuove politiche di sviluppo, di welfare e di crescita grazie alla programmazione 2014-2020 e alle risorse che questa sprigionerà.
Essere cittadini europei non vuol dire solo muoversi con la stessa moneta in tasca, ma soprattutto significa sentirsi parte attiva di un progetto politico comune, essere protagonisti di quel pensiero lungo che aveva contraddistinto Altiero Spinelli e aveva portato alla creazione della comunità europea. Se l'Unione Europea compie questa inversione di rotta allontanandosi dai tecnicismi e dai burocrati potrà contribuire a rendere i cittadini partecipi della vita politica, ad arginare quel gap tra istituzioni e giovani generazioni, quest'ultime sempre più scoraggiate nel vedere all'orizzonte un futuro e sempre più lontane dalle decisioni che le riguardano.
Solo così anche un giovane di una piccola cittadina del sud' Italia potrà riconoscersi nel progetto europeo, potrà sentirsi parte attiva del panorama politico-istituzionale e potrà essere orgoglioso di partecipare ai processi decisionali solo se condivisi. In questo processo di partecipazione fondamentali saranno, anche, gli Stati facenti parte dell'UE e le loro politiche.
La strada è in salita ma tutta da percorre, i singoli cittadini dovranno fare la loro parte utilizzando tutti i mezzi a loro disposizione e diventeranno così protagonisti della vita politica, contribuendo, così, alla costruzione di un'Europa migliore.



Ita
THE ESSENCE OF ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP
Panagiota Constantinidi is a 20-year-old girl from Cyprus. She is currently studying law at the University of Leicester, in England. As inspiring lawyer, she knows she won't change the world but she will certainly work hard - as she is already doing - to create a fairer one. As student, she has always been active in extra-curricular activities: she is the Treasurer of the academic student group of ELSA Leicester – European Law Students Association – and since 2010 she has been is a member of the European Youth Parliament and attended various international seminars, such Model United Nations and Youth Voice events. That's the reason why she decided to write an article on what active citizenship means to her and on her commitment as a real European active citizen.

When the term 'active citizenship' was first introduced in our lives it was thought to be 'the new kind of volunteering’1. Being active and contributing to the evolution of the society was illustrated as a voluntary procedure that someone who had the time
and the energy could be engaged in. Since that time, the situation has radically changed. Nowadays, participating actively in the modern and rather challenging environment of our everyday life is not an option. It is an obligation.

The first step towards understanding the importance of active citizenship is to identify what it really is. And that, is not just volunteering. Being active means participating in activities that will not only contribute to a positive change to the community but also, to a change in the citizens' behavior and state of mind. Active citizenship means changing yourself because we, the people, are the society. We can build the world in a way we want it to be because we are the world. As it has been discussed, active citizenship a vital step towards a healthy, flourishing society.

On a personal level, active participation could be extremely beneficial as it gives people the opportunity to develop their transferable skills. To begin with, a person can develop their interpersonal and communication skills since activities like being a member of a committee or participating in educational seminars involve meeting people and discussing ideas and thoughts. Secondly, working in a team, which can sometimes be terrifying for some and challenging for others, becomes a rewarding
and interesting experience as people who participate in such activities manage to embrace the team spirit and acquire the most of what it teaches them. Also, people who are active tend to be more organized since they have to manage their time correctly. All those skills and many more could enhance someone's CV and make them capable of showing that they have all the necessary characteristics for work positions, traineeships or in general, make them more competent to stand in the demanding needs of the society.

From a personal experience, I can say that being active has radically changed my life. I was firstly introduced to this new way of life at the age of fourteen by a very inspirational person, my English language teacher, and since then I am grateful for every experience I have had. During high school, I was able to participate in many extracurricular activities. I was able to participate in educational projects and seminars like European Solidarity in Action (EUSOLA) that gave me the chance represent my country in Portugal and Slovenia, "Youth in Action"- POPEYE in Strasbourg, Mediterranean Model United Nations (MEDI.M.U.N), European Youth Parliament (EYP) and "Youth Voice" as a Political Panel coordinator. Currently as a Law student, I am still an active member of the European Youth Parliament, an administrator at the Legal Advice Clinic of the Pro Bono group of my University and a Director for Academic Activities of the European Law Students' Association (ELSA). Being active did not just give me the opportunity to develop transferable skills but most importantly, it has given me experience and moments to remember that no books and no teachers can teach. It has shaped my character, making me more tolerant towards different age groups and cultures, giving me the chance to understand what the world looks like from a different perspective and loading me with a sense of fulfillment.

In a nutshell, a change to the society and to the people in general will not come if we do not try to bring it ourselves in our lives. Personal development can constitute the beginning of a more prosperous society. And active citizenship is a way to do that. The opportunities are endless. It is up to us to decide and exploit them.

Panagiota Constantinidi
_______________________

1* Jonathan Tisch "Active Citizenship: A New Approach to Volunteering". Huffington Post. (April 27, 2010).



Eng
Citizen participation: first steps after the Revolution in Tunisia

Shady Rabhi is 25-year-old man from Kasserine, a city located in the Central-Western part of Tunisia. Shady graduated in medical biology at the University of Monastir, in Tunisia. He is passionately involved in activities with associations that are active in promoting and supporting democracy and citizen participation. The article he kindly delivered us is about active citizen participation in Tunisia after the Jasmin Revolution.


After the Jasmin Revolution, from December 2010 until February 2011, everything changed in Tunisia: freedom, hardly achieved, enabled many Tunisian citizens to integrate in associations and to develop their willingness to participate and be active citizens.
This attitude, which has just started to develop, is increasingly spreading among people, stimulating a sort of competition among the several associations that are active in different fields: culture, art, citizenship, democracy, constitutional law. Nowadays, citizen participation reached a high percentage of people, who are now used to the fact that these activities are part of their daily life, both in urban and rural areas.
As activist and General Manager of an association, I'm aware of daily problems we have to face and solve, such as financial issues, pedagogical issues concerning the method and drafting of a project, as well as communication and marketing problems. But we do not have a passive approach in front of these problems: cooperation with other national and foreign associations, which have more experience and resources than us, it's without any doubt the wisest solution. That's why we will continue along this path, improving the communication between our civil society, associations and local authorities.
In this last period, the recent attacks that took place in Tunisia deeply destabilized our country and, consequently, external collaborations with Tunisia. It is an attack against human lives, freedom, human rights, development and against democracy, definitively. But it doesn't hinder our mission: we are peaceful people and we are more and more sure that democracy is the key to succeed in our country. That's why we won't stop the research of better conditions to improve the Tunisian situation, and we will get involved more and more to motivate citizens in participation at different levels.
Our future is in our hands. We have the choice to change everything, respecting our traditions and culture. The Tunisian Revolution cannot be a useless attempt, without any result. A bit of time would be necessary, for sure, but we still have our chance to turn back into the game.

Shady Rabhi

fra
Participation citoyenne en Tunisie : les premiers pas après la Révolution

Shady Rabhi a 25 ans et il vient de Kasserine, une ville de la Tunisie centre-orientale. Shady a obtenu un diplôme en biologie médicale délivré par l’Université de Monastir, en Tunisie. Il est très engagé dans les activités des associations qui sont  actives dans la promotion de la démocratie et la participation citoyenne. L’article qu’il nous a gentiment fourni est à propos la participation citoyenne active en Tunisie après la Révolution de Jasmin.


Après la Révolution de Jasmin, de décembre 2010 jusqu'à février 2011, tout a changé en Tunisie: la liberté acquise et arrachée a permis à beaucoup de citoyens tunisiens de s'intégrer au domaine associatif et d'avoir cette volonté de participer et d'être actives.
Cette mentalité, qui vient juste de se développer, est devenue de plus en plus partagée et elle a même engendré un esprit de compétition entre les différentes associations dans des différents domaines: culture, arts, citoyenneté, démocratie, loi constitutionnelle. La participation citoyenne a touché aujourd'hui un pourcentage important d'individus qui se sont habitués à ce que leurs activités deviennent une partie de leur vie quotidienne, que ce soit au niveau urbain ou rural.
Comme activiste et directeur général d'une association, je sais qu'il y a toujours plusieurs problèmes à résoudre concernant le travail associatif, tels des problèmes financiers, des problèmes pédagogiques dans la méthode et la rédaction d'une étude de projet, des problèmes de communication et de marketing. Mais devant tous ces problèmes nous ne sommes pas passives: la coopération avec d'autres associations nationales et étrangères, ayant plus d'expérience et plus de moyens que nous, c'est sans doute la solution la plus sage. Pour cela nous insistons à poursuivre cette démarche et à améliorer la communication parmi la société civile, le corps associatif et les autorités locales.
Dernièrement, les attaques qui se sont vérifiés sur notre territoire ont gravement déstabilisé notre pays et, par conséquent, les collaborations avec la Tunisie. Il s'agit d'une attaque aux vies humaines, à la liberté, aux droits humaines, au développement et bien sûre à la démocratie. Mais ça nous n'empêche pas dans notre mission: nous sommes un peuple pacifique et nous sommes encore plus convaincues que la démocratie soit la clé pour réussir dans notre pays. C'est pourquoi nous n'irons pas nous arrêter dans la recherche de conditions meilleures pour améliorer la situation de la Tunisie, et on s'engagera toujours plus pour motiver les citoyens à la participation à tout niveau.
Notre future est dans nos mains. On a le choix de tout changer, dans le respect de nos traditions et de notre culture. La Révolution Tunisienne ne sera pas une promesse vide, sans de résultats. Il faudra du temps, bien sûre, mais on a encore l'occasion pour nous remettre en jeux.

Shady Rabhi


Eng
"Poesie sull'Unione Europea"

Tre alunni dell'Istituto Comprensivo State "F. Muttoni" di Vicenza, Italia, hanno scritto per noi alcune poesie sulla democrazia e l'Unione Europea. Due degli alunni sono italiani e il terzo ha cittadinanza albanese.


IO SONO UNO STRANIERO
Io sono uno straniero, ma non è vero.
Tu sei bianco, io son giallo e lui è nero.
Nell'U.E. non c'è differenza,
ma l'amore qui ci sta.
La nostra dignità
è la realtà.
A.

UNIONE EUROPEA

Montagna, mare, lago, prato,
sono questi i paesaggi che ho trovato.

Viaggiare, scoprire, osservare,
sono queste le parole di questo nuovo mondo.

Coraggio, forza, pace, unione,
sono questi i legami che ci sono tra le persone.

Ogni cittadino di qualsiasi città, paese o contea,
appartiene a questo mondo chiamato UNIONE EUROPEA.

A.

L' Europa ..... che confusione !

Oh! L' Unione, l' Unione,
che gran confusione!
C'è chi parla in italiano,
chi in spagnolo,
chi in francese,
chi in tedesco
e in norvegese.
Per parlare tutti insieme
ci vorrebbe l' Europese!
Ma per andare tutti d' accordo basta l' inglese.
Uniti, diversi,
uguali per diritti,
hanno eletto un parlamento per far rigare tutti dritti!
G.


Eng

We for the EU, the EU for us: a powerful message from young EU citizens

A group of students from Scuola Secondaria di 1° Grado “Mainardi”, located in Vicenza, Italy, created an original photostory on the topic of the European Union, its history and its future. The initiative, supervised by Prof. Rachele de Prisco, aimed to raise awareness among the youngest on what it means to be a European citizen.

***
The photostory, divided into three parts and narrated in both Italian and English, described the great adventure to a united Europe through some of the most important landmarks of the history of the EU, and educated the students on the meaning and importance of unity and peace. The children also had the opportunity to reflect on the present situation of the European Union with the economic and the refugee crisis and stressed the role that Europe and its citizens have to play in order to build a better future through solidarity, democratic participation and openness towards others.

The feeling of belonging to the EU and of being united in diversity was beautifully portrayed by the students. As narrated by the children, the European States become bricks of a tower, which, bought together, create a beautiful architecture, or they become the keys of a piano where each of them plays a different note, but, together, they play just one melody.

Watch the videos:
L’Europa nella storia (Italian)
Europe and its history (English)
“Sono un cittadino dell’UE” (Italian)
“I am a citizen of the EU” (English)
Noi per l’UE (Italian)
We X EU (English)


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