Ilona Sābera – portfolio

blogging, journalism, semiotics, short stories

Getting out of your comfort zone

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Sharing our stories

I am going to tell you my story that brought me here, because I believe that we can build a common European future just starting from a personal level. So to share Europe, first we must share our stories.

Discovering people and places

Latvia’s territory is bigger than Belgium, but we are just 2 million people. So after knowing everybody in my country, I decided that I need to travel. I wanted to expand my worldview and just followed opportunities. Soon I realized that far more important than seeing monuments in European capitals is exploring personalities and lifestyles of people living there. And thanks to a really wonderful people I met on my way, I got inspired to move on. Actually it started when I was 15 and I took part in European Commission’s Youth Exchange programme were I spent unforgettable 9 days in Lithuanian countryside with the best people I could imagine. It was quite tough, we had to take a shower in the nearest sauna and cooked our dinner on the fire, but still I met so nice and funny Italian group that inspired me to start learning Italian. And finally after 5 years I fulfilled my dream and went to Erasmus to Italy and latter I continued my masters studies there.

Beyond Europe

In Italy I understood that the whole Europe is united by Mediterranean sea and it connect us also to our neighbours in North Africa and Middle East. And we share so much. Italians, specially in south, are taking life easy the same way as Arabs. Then when I had a feeling that Europe is quite well known for me, I just decided to move to Egypt where I spent 7 months studying Arabic, going to Tahrir square and again – meeting people. There I understood that in any part of the world you can meet a person who has completely the same mindset as you, in spite of his or her social, cultural or religious background. This was really the best discovery and a miracle for me.

Injustice behind political decisions

While I was in Cairo, I saw also clashes with police that happened after Port Saeed football match. In this match 74 people where killed, most of them young boys and Egyptian police didn’t do their job to protect them. So the next day a group of very young boys, 16-17 years old, frustrated with their friends death and angry at their government went to protest in front of the interior ministry. Their anger found the only way out in starting clashes with the police. And for 3 consecutive days there were stones, sticks and fireworks from the protesters against tear gass and birdshot bullets from the police. But on the other side in police uniforms there where also young boys, almost the same age, some of them coming from very poor families who were just following orders of their officials. And I was thinking just about the reasons and absurdity of this fight and the victims of injustice. But most of the time what we get in Europe are just small bits of information on media, not showing the whole picture. And I wonder do we really have no time to listen to people’s stories?

I am a journalist myself but I invite you not to think in clishes like third countries, third world, underdeveloped countries and similar. Think about the true meaning and the reasons behind any political or media term. Be aware of the powers involved and the consequences that people are facing living there.

Take a risk

That is why I am really glad that there are so many of us European Commission’s trainees that are already thinking beyond Europe and want to create many new subcommittees on cooperation and exchange with non European countries, especially in a time when we understand that Europe can’t be sustainable by itself. So my current aim is to work on these ideas, to organize conferences, trainings and other events, to create awareness, to network and learn from each other.

I was waken up by a phonecall from Brussels while I was in Cairo. So I just followed another chance and now I am among you, the future leaders, as we got convinced in these days. And I want to invite you to take a risk of leaving your comfort zone, to explore, put yourself in unexpected situations and learn. This is your experience, your life. Go to Egypt, India, China, Mexico. This is our value, our inspiration and source of energy.

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