European Heritage Makers Gather in Strasbourg

One of the most exciting youth heritage initiatives of 2018 symbolically closed last month in Strasbourg. Launched as a pilot project within European Heritage Days and recognised as a key initiative in the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, European Heritage Makers Week inspired over 80 young people to tell their heritage stories.  

Ten storytellers whose submissions demonstrated a distinct passion for heritage and originality in telling the story were invited for a cultural visit to Strasbourg, which marked the final stage of the initiative. The visit took place between 25 and 28 November, when an inspiring three-day programme took place at European Youth Centre and various landmarks of the city.

Heritage Makers in Strasbourg

Inspired by the themes of “The Art of Sharing” and the authentic values of their cultural environment, the storytellers shared their favourite heritage stories with the rest of Europe. Their involvement was one of the highlights of this year’s celebrations of both European Heritage Days and European Year of Cultural Heritage.

In Strasbourg, ten participants had a chance to further their knowledge about heritage. After demonstrating a great awareness of Europe’s cultural heritage and shared values, they were given an opportunity to explore them in more depth. The programme included several activities designed to encourage them to expand their view views of heritage and find out more about Europe’s history.

One of the most informative experiences was a tour of the European Parliament, which also included the visit to the Hemicycle and the Parlamentarium Simone Veil. The storytellers learnt about the history of the city through the tour of the Alsatian Museum, and were also given the opportunity to visit the 1003-year-old Cathedral and the Strasbourg Christmas Market.

Learning about the roots of democracy in Europe was enabled by the visit to the European Court of Human Rights, where they could also see the courtrooms. In addition to this, a series of lectures and workshops were organised to encourage participants to think about the meaning of heritage and its value in Europe today

The overall experience enabled the storytellers to not only learn more about Europe, but also connect to people from different countries. The selected participants came from Finland, Latvia, Hungary, Estonia, and Iceland, and the joint programme allowed them to learn more about each other’s cultures and discover their common values. On her way back, Saga Koivisto, a 9 year old heritage maker from Vantaa, Finland, wrote:

I went to Strasbourg after winning an award. In Strasbourg I also met the other winners. They came from Latvia, Hungary, Estonia and Iceland.

We visited the European parliament, where they decide on European issues. There were all the flags of the countries in the European Union, but the flag of Great Britain is going to be removed at the end of the year. Great Britain is leaving the European Union then.

We also went to the European Court of Human Rights. There they solve problems. When we got there, we saw the cars and drivers of Liechtenstein’s royal family. They had come there on a surprise visit.

On the last day we went to the Christmas market of Strasbourg. Almost all the city center was one big market. There were lots of small market booths, Christmas lights and Christmas decorations. In many places I could smell the Glühwein. It is almost as the warm Glögi-drink we have in Finland, but I didn’t like the smell.

I liked almost everything about my visit!

Ending in this visit, European Heritage Makers Week was an important experience for all the storytellers who joined. The initiative provided a space for them to present their favourite heritage places and objects to the whole of Europe, as well as to explore their European identity. With the new edition launching in early 2019, an even greater number of creative young individuals will get an opportunity to share their unique visions of their heritage.