My personal watershed moment

10-05-2017

You can only have a few watersheds over the course of your life. These pivotal moments are different for everyone, but they can turn around your life completely. For me, this watershed was represented by my first Erasmus+ experience, which made me fall in love with cultural diversity and opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me.

I was always a very motivated young person. While in high school, I dedicated much of my free time to volunteering and, being an active member of the Local Youth Council in Chișinău, I was presented with the opportunity to go on an Erasmus+ training course in Armenia. So, in September 2015, I spent a week in Yerevan, living and learning alongside 23 people from 11 different countries. The topic of the project was "How to survive in a multicultural society”. We tackled and debated on problems such as discrimination, extremism, intolerance and intercultural misunderstanding. I remember being continuously amazed by how diverse all the participants were. We came from different European countries, aligning ourselves to different religions and beliefs, but understood and interacted with one another so well. By the end of the project we had developed a true sense of belonging to the group and made long-lasting friendships.  

Now, looking back on this experience, I can say that I have learned a lot, and it was extremely educational for me as a person and as a student. Undoubtedly, it left a lasting mark on me, and I became a lot more flexible, sociable and adaptable to new environments. I developed and enhanced soft skills such as communication, presentation skills, leadership and teamwork, and on top of all that, I had a real taste of the Armenian culture and history. Moreover, this experience uncovered the true beauty of cultural diversity for me and changed the way I perceived many things, including the European Union. I started to identify with the EU’s motto: “United in diversity”. I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity and acknowledge the importance of the European Commission’s investment in the Erasmus+ programme, which continues to change the lives of thousands of young people like me.  

I feel that my story would be incomplete without me sharing my opinion and impressions on the “Eastern Partnership Leaders for Change” forum which took place in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2-4 March 2017. It gathered young people from three Eastern Partnership member countries: Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, and aimed to contribute to the political modernisation of the EaP countries by training and empowering a new generation of reform-oriented political and civic leaders. While attending discussion panels and participating in workshops and debates, I became more aware of the great importance that European integration has for Moldova and that this is the only path our country can take to achieve prosperity and modernisation. My participation in this event motivated me to obtain an education abroad, and then come back to my country and commit myself to the ‘fight’ for Moldova’s integration into the EU.

In conclusion, I would say that the educational programmes and opportunities offered by the EU have played a crucial role in educating me, building my personality and changing the way I perceive multiculturalism and my country’s European integration. They made me realise that the EU is everywhere around me and that it represents my country’s future, and mine as well.

Author: Iuliana Golub

This story is the winning entry for Moldova in the #EUaroundU writing contest organised by the EU Neighbours East project, inviting young people between the ages of 18 and 26 from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to tell their story of how the EU has impacted their personal life or community.

Read the other winning entries:

Armenia – My life in a day: How the EU is making it better, by Nune Harutyunyan

Azerbaijan – Stronger and together with the EU, by Sara Rajabi

Belarus – Dreams that become goals, by Katsiaryna Varfalameyeva

Georgia – The EU and I, by Georgi Kakhniashvili

Ukraine – My Europe, by Lilia Ovcharova