11th August 2020 | Greece
Action For Education is delighted to announce the winners of the 1st European Solidarity Essay Competition.
Action For Education has been providing safe spaces for asylum seekers and refugees in the Aegean Islands since 2017. Frustrated by Europe’s complacency, we have recently been investing more time in raising awareness in communities across the continent. Launching an essay competition was our way to encourage young Europeans to conduct their own research into refugees and the issues surrounding them.
The competition launched in June and participants could respond to one of two prompts focused on solidarity;
13-15-year-olds were asked to write a creative story that “compares your experience of lockdown with the experience of those in a refugee camp”. Younger students’ were required to use empathy as a form of solidarity. The whole world is facing the current pandemic. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, we are all fighting the virus. Facing the same problem was the starting point for younger students to imagine life as a refugee. To help their story writing, we encouraged students to research into refugee camps. We particularly appreciated our winner, Emily Meixner’s self-reflection: “I love to write and know a bit about refugees through my mum and friends. There are some videos for research. I click on them and watch them all. What I see devastates me.”
16-18-year-olds were asked to respond to the question: “To what extent is solidarity under threat at Europe’s borders?” Older students were therefore asked to engage more critically with the concept of European solidarity. The essay question forced students to research and critique Europe’s recent efforts of responding to refugees seeking asylum within its borders. Many students opted to look at European solidarity with a political lens. Our winner, Max Blansjaar, responded with remarkable eloquence that considered historical, economic, political and social aspects of European solidarity with refugees.
We thoroughly enjoyed reading over 60 submissions from 11 countries across Europe. Such high calibre responses are emblematic of a generation that are much more switched on to global issues. As we continue to invest our efforts into advocacy, it has been a pleasure to engage the next generation with issues of solidarity.
13-15-year-old category winners
1st place - Emily Meixner
2nd place - Rebecca T.
3rd place - Asher Barral
16-18-year-old category winners
1st place - Max Blansjaar
2nd place - Sahar Rabbani
3rd place - Angelika Etherington-Smith
Winning entries will be published on the Action for Education online journal over the coming weeks.
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Action for Education is a grassroots NGO working with asylum seekers and refugees in Greece. Action for Education stands for equal access to education for all displaced people, as well as access to basic and dignifying services.