Friday, 25 September 2009

Hungary.EU - EU.Hungary

Not much blogging this week as you have seen. The reason is simple: I spent some days in Hungary, combining holidays with being a Euroblogger.

Upon the invitation by Café PR, a subunit of Café, one of the largest PR and communication agencies in Hungary, I participated in two Media Academies that Café PR organised for the European Commission in Hungary.

The goal of this series of academies is to discuss with local and regional journalists on how to report about the EU, how to find reliable information on EU topics, and how to link EU-related information and news with relevance for the local/regional level.

After I got asked whether I would be ready to participate as a presenter during two of the academies, sharing my experiences on how I - as a blogger - find and present EU-related information, I adapted my initially different holiday plans in favour of Hungary.

So I first spent two days of pure holidays in Budapest - a city that can easily cope with other major European capitals as a touristic destination - and then moved on to Debrecen and Szeged where the Academies took place.

Especially Debrecen was the positive surprise of the last years.

Being the 2nd-biggest city in Hungary, Debrecen has a beautifully restaurated city centre that is larger than one might expect at the first sight. But the self-proclaimed "Calvinist Rome" impresses not only with its city centre, its nice choice of cafés and bars, and with an open friendly human atmosphere, but also with a university complex that is a touristic attraction in itself.

The campus is situated some two kilometers north of the historic city centre, on the southern rim of a large forest-park, and since the tourist information recommended going there and also to pass by the university I finally found myself in front of the main university building - and had difficulties to close my mouth (which wasn't made easier when seeing the interior, too).

Honestly spoken, if I was a student again I would try a lot to get an ERASMUS place there, and I would seriously consider a fellowship-offer if the university made one to mee...

And it is not just the main building, the whole campus with its mix of historic, modern, and functional buildings, its huge fountain and the botanic garden is more than impressive. Together with the atmosphere in the centre and on the campus, Debrecen left the image of an excellent place with all basic conditions for academic work.

But let's not forget the media academies:

They involved, beside myself, one of the main and most respected EU experts in Hungary, Zoltán Horváth, and György Urkuti, editor at the Hungarian business newspaper Világgazdaság and renowned journalist with a major focus on EU affairs, as well as Ákos Moskovits from the Media Unit of the Commission Representation in Hungary.

Our presentations went from current EU affairs over how to find interesting EU news and information to good and bad examples on how the EU is presented in Hungarian news, which seemed to be a fairly interesting mixture of perspectives.

So it was a pity that not too many journalists were participating in the free events... Nevertheless, I still had the impression that those who were there took an honest interest in what was said, and I had the feeling that even the euroblogger's perspective I was representing was of some added value, in particular to the younger journalists present.

For me, this trip was in any case extremely valuable, both because I could discover Hungary and because I met a number of amazing people I might not have met otherwise and with whom I share the passion for Europe, European politics and modern communication.

My warmest wishes and thanks thus go to Veronika and Anita from Café PR who did a marvellous job in organising the events and who were maximum helpful and flexible in facilitating both my travel and accommodation. I also send many thanks to my co-presenter György, who, as I learned, is a reader of Euroblogs and proposed me as a possible presenter for these events to Café PR.

And last but not least I'd like to thank my interpreters in both cities - Hungarian is not in my repertoire and so their work was most appreciated! Attila Terök, my interpreter in Szeged who usually is doing freelance interpretation for the European Parliament and other EU institutions, is even a blogger himself, running a blog in which he translates American rap vocabulary into Hungarian...

What I again take with me from these days is that Europe and the EU is not about Brussels and Strasbourg, but it is about people with shared interest meeting and discussing freely, without borders between their countries and without walls within their minds - and anyone who does not understand this dimension of European integration will never understand my passion for the European project!


Akos said...

Julien, it was a real pleasure to have you here and thanks again for the excellent job you did. I've got your RSS in my reader now :)

Julien Frisch said...

Köszönöm! :-)