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Students discuss ways to promote Europe’s cultural heritage

The De La Salle Sixth Form students at the conference venue.

The De La Salle Sixth Form students at the conference venue.

Three De La Salle Sixth Form students represented Malta at this year’s edition of Your Europe, Your Say (YEYS), an annual youth event organised in Brussels recently for the ninth year running by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The event was attended by 99 students from 33 high schools in 28 EU Member States and five candidate countries. Malta was represented by Andrea Cuschieri, Francesca Grillo and Suhrid Roy.

The theme for this year’s YEYS was ‘United in diversity: a younger future for European culture’, as 2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage. During intensive debates and workshops, the students discussed how to preserve European cultural heritage and make it more appealing to young Europeans. The ideas included topics such as equality, security and integration, which could be improved through cultural activities. The European teenagers also had a chance to discuss the importance of preserving and fostering our cultural heritage with EESC members, experts and artists.

By the end of the conference the participants formulated a series of recommendations to EU policymakers, including that of giving European young people greater opportunities to learn languages through travel, making European cultural sites more accessible, and preserving culture through national cuisine and crafts, which can all inspire young Europeans to discover different cultures and gain a better understanding of their common cultural heritage.

Addresing the event, EESC vice-president Gonçalo Lobo Xavier emphasised the importance of listening to young people and taking their ideas into consideration. “This incredible project called Europe belongs to everybody, it is built by everybody and everybody has a voice. That is exactly why you are here.” 

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, secretary-general of Europa Nostra, an organisation that safeguards cultural and natural heritage in Europe, said: “We cannot build Europe if we do not give our culture and our cultural heritage a more central place. For too long Europe has been built mostly through economy, finance and market. These are extremely important tools for bringing economies and societies together. But what is the heart and soul of Europe? It is culture and cultural heritage,” she added. Ms Quaedvlieg-Mihailović also stressed that if Europe has a shared cultural heritage, its citizens have a shared responsibility to preserve it.

EESC president Georges Dassis stressed that many Europeans now have a privileged life, saying this was not the case everywhere and was not always the case in Europe. “It is really important to encourage young people to take responsibility into their own hands to learn about what has been achieved, but also how to make it better. We have to work together and especially with young people, because without you nothing will happen,” said Mr Dassis.

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