"A trip across borders broke down all my stereotypes"
I first heard about cross-border cooperation when the workshop “BORDERS” was introduced last October 2017 during my studies at the Brussels based communication school IHECS. I decided for this workshop in the framework of my master and had to write a motivation letter for that. Students would have the opportunity to travel to the EU’s external borders and should then communicate the outcomes of what they would witness there.
I travelled to the border between Russia and Latvia. In Latvia we were able to discover a horse therapy project. Beneficiaries are usually people with physical or sometimes mental disabilities. For example, we met a mother who regularly brought her autistic daughter to this centre. Being on a horse soothed the child and helped her to express herself. Then, in Russia, we visited a project of therapy by nature. It was a centre for children from the youngest age up to 18/19 years old who suffer from mental disorders.
I was glad to meet the mother during our visit in Latvia in the equestrian centre. She was very touching, open to us and she did not hesitate to share her experience. I was also glad to get to know our Latvian correspondent, Dace Spēlmane. A very committed and generous person from the beginning. This trip would certainly not have been the same without her.
Now we are in May 2018, and I feel a lot has happened. We just finalised our exhibition in BOZAR for the project “Next Generation, Please!” and the documentary “Crossing Borders” that we (the 12 students) have created was broadcasted in avant-première last week.
I confess that, before making this trip, I tended to see “borders” as a brake. A brake to meetings, to travels etc. Today, I see the “border” as something that can also connect different people, or a window to learn from the other one. It has always been difficult for me to have a clear idea on the EU as a whole. I see the institutions as very opaque organisations. And I find there is a real contrast between on one hand policies that are, to me, very hard and on the other hand, wonderful projects that are financed, such as those we have been able to discover in this project “Crossing Borders”.
I’m convinced that these cross-border projects can help break down the barriers that can sometimes exist between people. This cooperation goes beyond stereotypes and differences to create a link, a feeling of going somewhere together.
This trip allowed me to get rid of certain stereotypes I could have, especially about Russia. The image that I had was limited to what is said in the media. I am therefore grateful to have been able to go on site and forge my own opinion.
Megane Campanella is 22. She is Belgian and lives in Brussels, in the heart of Europe. She studies socio cultural communication at the Brussels school of communication and journalism IHECS. As many young people from her generation, She grew up without any administrative or physical border next to her country. In November, in the framework of her master, she travelled with other students to the border between Latvia and Russia. Following this, she and her school mates worked on the project with BOZAR « Next generation, Please ! » to produce the documentary “Crossing Borders”.
The documentary is available here: