"All is quiet around me..."

We ask ourselves, "What happens when there are no exchanges, no school trips, no international encounters between students across Europe for a year?" How do the restrictions resulting from the pandemic affect the lives of young people today? The statement: "Everything around me is quiet" sheds light on this experience.

LIGHT AND SOUND ON NEW BRIDGES is a project that creates a Europe-wide network with more than 200 students from 19 schools in 10 Danube countries. In online regulars’ meetings that the project has held with participating teachers in preparation, an almost dystopian picture of Europe is emerging at the moment. The impressions from the individual countries range from “everyone fights for themselves” to “hopelessness” and “the European idea is being lost”.

“The Corona pandemic is turning young people in online classes into lone warriors,” says a participating teacher from Freiburg. “It is difficult to feel connected when everyone has to cope with everyday life in isolation. International exchange is very important, especially for young people,” says a teacher from Waldshut. “Changes in perspective happen through contact, the filter bubbles only burst when we meet others,” adds a teacher from Ukraine.

We ourselves – who thought up and developed the project – also feel how much we have missed this exchange, how we enjoy being able to exchange with the others again and at least meet them in virtual space, and how our courage grows in the process to overcome this crisis.

In terms of content and theme, LIGHT AND SOUND ON NEW BRIDGES ties in with the reality of young people’s lives: What does the current situation mean for individuals on a daily basis? What are the prospects for the future? How can young people participate in political processes? How do young people become political actors? What visions and utopias can we develop for the European idea?

“Light and Sound on New Bridges” combines the two mottos of the European Capitals of Culture Timisoara (light and sound) and Novi Sad (on new bridges). The aim here is to bring the creative, aesthetic side to the fore. Together with the young people, the project sets out in three phases (Me in Europe, You in Europe, We in Europe) in search of the commonalities and the connections that hold Europe together inside. In various online workshops, the participants are invited to become creative and to discuss. In this way, a network is created that accompanies the young people in their everyday lives and offers opportunities to look into the living rooms of others with just one click. Windows to Europe will be opened that we want to keep open. Windows that give us the certainty even in times of crisis: There is still someone who is interested in me. The European idea is alive, we can actively shape it. The project starts on 15.03.2021 with a joint kick-off programme and will be completed in June 2021.

A cooperation project of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport of the State of Baden-Württemberg and the Cultural Officer for the Danube Region at the Danube Swabian Central Museum Ulm