Young Leaders´ Forums

Europe Meets Latin America: A Forum for Young Leaders

May 2009

Report of Day 1: Introductions

The weeklong seminar of this year’s second Europe meets Latin America Forum began extremely positively. With over 30 enthusiastic young leaders, eager to take part in the program, the introductory session began. Each participant received a “goody bag” containing information concerning the forum and what they would experience during their stay here. Once the introductory speech was delivered, the participants were put into groups according to what letters or numbers they had been given when registering. Our participants confidently communicated and exchanged their various perspectives through productive dialogue, whereby they discussed how they perceived the simple and yet very complex concepts of what Latin-America and Europe is and what these concepts mean to them. This was a successful as well as constructive beginning to the weeklong seminar.

After a short coffee break, the group headed to the Berlin Philharmonic to listen to a lecture from Larissa Israel, who presented and defined the relationship between music and cultural diplomacy. She underlined the challenges and opportunities associated with using music as a neutral platform for intercultural exchange. Fortunately, every Tuesday at 1pm, there is the ‘Lunch Concert’, performing breathtaking classical pieces, lasting for one hour. This concert permits all who wish to listen for free, an opportunity not to be missed.

The group made its way back to the Amerika Haus once they had had lunch. An introduction to cultural diplomacy was given by ICD Director and Founder Mark Donfried. He spoke about its role in international relations both in the past and present. In addition, he detailed the need for dialogue between cultures and gave an insight into institutions such as the Alliance Française dating back to 1883, which have a long history of supporting cultural exchange.

A professor of the Latin American Institute of the Free University Berlin, Prof. Dr. Stefan Rinke kindly gave a lecture on the history of the European and Latin American relationship. This was an enticing topic, capturing the attention of the participants, identifying well-known and novel points of view, resulting in a more broadened overview.

In the evening the participants were invited to join the team for dinner at Berlin’s En Passant restaurant in Savignyplatz, located in the heart of West Berlin. They were offered a varied and delicious cuisine, ranging from couscous, to salads, to pizza and to pasta, all of which were complimented by scrumptious wine.

Report of Day 2: EU Policies and Leadership Initiatives

The second day of the Europe Meets Latin America forum began at the European House (Europäisches Haus), located in Unter den Linden. European Commission Representative Willem Noë, presented the political, economic and historical fundamentals of the EU. He defined all main and vital aspects of the EU, including, what is the EU, how does it work, the history, its’ present circumstances and what may lay ahead for the EU in the future, the deepening and widening of integration, and of course not forgetting the benefits and drawbacks of joining the EU as a member state.

The afternoon session also took place at the European House, whereby an ICD colleague, Matthies Verstegen, moderated a cultural diplomatic role play, which concentrated on highlighting Cultural Diplomacy from a political perspective. This was a fun but interesting exercise, giving the participants the opportunity to understand the role of European politics in connection with Cultural Diplomacy; how does one apply politics within the realm of Cultural Diplomacy and vice versa.

Later on in the day, the group travelled back to the Amerika Haus, ready to pursue the next and final session of the day. A member of the EMLA team, Rachael Clark gave an introduction to the Leadership Initiatives. In groups the participants were guided on how to create their own project initiatives, successfully resulting in them putting many creative and unique ideas on the table and forming the foundations of what could be potentially long-term, opportunistic realities.

The evening ended on the International Boat Party, located at the Eastern Comfort. We all enjoyed the live music and an international crowd aboard the Eastern Comfort boat, to be moored on the Spree in East Berlin – behind the Berlin Wall.

Report of Day 3: Foreign Policy and the Bundestag

Day three saw a morning of recovering at the Auswärtiges Amt (German Foreign Office) after an exciting and fun evening at the International Boat Party on the Eastern Comfort.

Wolfgang Hoelscher-Obermaier (Deputy Head of Division, Latin America) gave a lecture, addressing the Ministry’s work and how it functions abroad, establishing as many bilateral connections between Germany and the world as possible.

He also explained that the Auswärtiges Amt aims to serve the interests of Germany and its citizens abroad. It works for peace, freedom, democracy, and economic and social development all over the world, and endeavours to preserve natural resources, which we all heavily depend on. It looks to support and further develop respect for human rights, international law, and the rule of law. The Auswärtiges Amt advocates the process of European integration.

After lunch the ICD was very pleased to receive Ney Artur Gonçalves Canani, the Head of the Political Department of the Brazilian Embassy. He gave a lecture on the current socio-economic relations between MERCOSUR and the EU. Food for thought however was the question of just how two political unions communicate (MERCOSUR and the EU).

Later in the afternoon the group headed to the German Parliament where Harald Leibrecht MdB, FDP, a member of Parliament discussed the work of the parliament with the participants, followed by a tour of the historic Reichstag. He illustrated that although most legislation is initiated by the executive branch, the Bundestag sees the legislative function as its most important responsibility and concern, and therefore pay much attention to assessing and amending the government's legislative program.

The participants had the evening to themselves and decided to explore and discover Berlin’s nightlife at its best.

Report of Day 4: Mexican Embassy, Art and Sport

After an evening of recuperation, events began at the Mexican Embassy, where Daniel Tamayo, Cultural Attaché, addressed the representation of Mexico in Europe. He also kindly explained that aim of the embassy is to represent Mexico in Germany and within other international bodies interference to the statutes provided by the Mexican government, as such supporting good understandings between the two countries. He made a point of saying that their vision was to broaden and enhance Mexico’s foreign policy with the government of Germany. To achieve this, actions are being taken and will be taken in order to accomplish and overcome issues concerning various political, economic, social and cultural areas. Germany is Mexico’s most important EU trading partner. For the USA and Japan, Mexico is their third largest exporter in the world.

During the afternoon ‘Streetfootballworld’ gave a workshop on Sports as Cultural Diplomacy, presented by Duncan Jones, Community Development Program Representative of Streetfootballworld. Areas approached were considering the challenges and opportunities associated with using sports as a neutral platform for intercultural exchange. The Streetfootballworld is a social profit organization that links relevant actors in the field of development through Football.  With the network's support, Streetfootballworld develops approaches to social challenges by working with governments, businesses and NGOs, and providing advice on development, investment and business strategy.

And last but by no means least, the ICD’s very own Dr. Sabine Lang, led a tour of the magnificent ’60 Years – 60 Works of Art’ Exhibition at the Martin Gropius Bau Museum. It was an exhibition seeking to trace the history of the German Republic, taking the example of aesthetic developments in fine arts.

Once finished at the exhibition, the group travelled back to the Amerika Haus, where the participants were given the time to start creating their own project initiatives (ideas), ready to be presented on the next day, a buzzing atmosphere of exchanging ideas could most certainly be sensed in the room. However the evening naturally could not end there, Havana, Havana, Havana, located in the west of Berlin; this diverse Latin-American club offers a diverse range of the very best of Latin-American music.

Report of Day 5: Music and Inspiration

Havana was most certainly a diverse club offering a number of the very best of Latin-American music. The choice of music ranged from Reggaeton, Bachata and Merengue, to Beautiful Black Sounds, to SALSA!! The participants not only showed they were young leaders but also a natural flair for dance. The party went on till the early hours of the morning, a wonderful celebration indeed.

As many of us needed to recuperate, the day began in the early afternoon, with a lecture from Anett Szabó, former organizer of the Karneval der Kulturen. She presented a movie, a lecture and discussion concerning the concept of Berlin’s Carnival of Cultures, by discussing the concept behind the carnival of cultures, which is a renowned event, fostering cultural exchange.

Earlier in the week the group discussed how the participants would develop and present their initiatives with the group and establish the next steps for the forum to ensure its sustainability and increase its influence. All participants created and successfully presented their ideas with much enthusiasm. The EMLA team was very optimistic in furthering and sustaining Latin–American and European relations with such a dedicated and passionate group of people.

After the great work of the participants, it was decided to celebrate their work by going to the ‘Mundo Mix’, at the BKA Theatre. Again another eclectic collection of music, consisting of soul of the 60s, modern beats, funk, modern soul, jazz, and pop. It was a place full of energy, with an international chorizema and of course by no means lacking in fun. However this was not the end of the forum, as the EMLA still had the carnival of cultures to experience on the morrow.

Report of Day 6: Karneval in Berlin

An exciting day, the Carnival of Cultures!
The idea of a carnival is to present the cultural and the ethnic diversity of Berlin, this has been running since 1995, this was at a time when the political and economic changes came into play where the Berlin Wall fell and the unification of the two German states came together. As result, the economy went into decline (Berlin), not to mention the economic levels and cultural experiences of people coming from the east and the west of Berlin presented even more social conflicts, which carried on rising rather than eroding away.  Berlin was also attracting artists from all over the world, as a consequent a ‘new culture’ was developing. The group was informed that there had been attempts to initiate a carnival in Berlin in the past; the problem was that these concepts were based on existing approaches.

The concept of the carnival focuses on the cultural richness of Berlin, where it also highlights hidden delights of its international cultural scene. The Carnival of Cultures has been a success from the start to the present day. Together EMLA celebrated a unique street festival across Berlin’s district Kreuzberg.

The week-long seminar ended at Queso y Jamon, a very popular tapas and cocktail bar within the Kultur Brauerei. Delicacies from the Spanish kitchen and superb wines certainly made the evening a perfect way to reflect on the week and for the team to say goodbye to the participants, a sad but memorable moment. Let us not say goodbye but Aufwiedersehen...