The documentary captures the lives of five Erasmus participants who work, study or volunteer across Europe.
The film’s young characters leave their home town for the first time, to prove that they can survive in a foreign country. From France, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria and Ethiopia to Lithuania, Finland, Greece and Ireland, they must adapt to different cultures and mentalities.
The experience of these young characters is juxtaposed with the memories of the first Europeans to take part in Erasmus, an ambitious mobility programme created in 1987. Sharing photographs and amateur films, they recall what Europe was like and how the experience changed who they have become.
One of the students featured in the film, 19 year-old Henok Nigatu Tekola, is a jazz and traditional Ethiopian musician from Addis Ababa, who spent a semester at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick in 2018, under the Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility programme. Although he struggles with homesickness and the cold, he connects with musicians from across Europe and returns home with new ideas about how to help his country through music.
Set against the European crisis, characterised by unprecedented youth unemployment, uncertainties around the refugee crisis and Brexit, their journeys offer a bird’s-eye view of a continent in transition and a ground level understanding of the many faces of Europe.
Leading experts offer insight to the challenges facing young Europeans, including Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev (Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna), British historian Timothy Garton Ash (University of Oxford), Croatian philosopher Srećko Horvat, Greek academic Loukas Tsoukalis (University of Athens) and Monika Queisser (Head of Social Policy, OECD). Additional contributions are made by educators working for Erasmus programmes across Europe.
The Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility programme has facilitated teaching exchanges and student mobility between UL’s Irish World Academy and institutions in countries such as Georgia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Serbia and Palestine. Addis Ababa University's Yared Music School is renowned in Ethiopia, with an array of famous alumni including Girum Mezmur, a musician credited with reviving live music and Ethiopian jazz in the city. He is considered one of the most prolific and well-respected musicians in Ethiopia. Addis Abba is celebrated for having one of the most vibrant and dynamic music scenes in Africa, from traditional Azmari beats to reggae and Ethio-jazz. The Yared School of Music seeks to enhance their student experience by providing opportunities to study music in another country. In doing so, the school aims to increase the recognition of Ethiopian traditional music internationally. To date, the Irish World Academy has received six students from the Yared of Music for one semester each. This exchange of students is complemented fruitful collaboration between academic staff, which is facilitated by teaching exchanges as well as joint research, curriculum development and exchange of good practices.
Citizen Europe is available to stream on the RTE Player throughout the month of June.