Thinking Canada - Contemplating Hungary
September 13th, 2010
With funding from the European Commission, the European Network of Canadian Studies has launched the first Thinking Canada study tour. Twenty-seven European students from some 23 of the EU’s 27 member countries – all with a Canadian Studies background - have been selected to participate in this three-part event which began with a four-day briefing session on the European Union and Canadian/European relations in Brussels. Their arrival in Canada on September 5th 2010 for a three week study tour marks the second phase of Thinking Canada. While in Canada, participants are taking part in meetings, seminars, and discussions in Ottawa, Québec, Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria. Three of the participants will conclude their involvement with Thinking Canada with a 2-month internship designed to give them further insights into the Canadian scene. In this, the first year of Thinking Canada, internships have been arranged at the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Montréal, the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver, and with a Canadian government department in Ottawa.
For its first year of operation, Thinking Canada has chosen to focus on five key themes. This first is cultural diversity, including English/French relations, First Nations and multiculturalism. Politics is the second theme and participants will looks at federalism, regionalism, and the role of government. A third theme is the environment with a particular attention to Arctic issues. Fourth and fifth are urban and economic issues. Each of these themes will be explored in the context of European Union/Canada relations. These themes will most likely vary in future Thinking Canada programs. Continued support for the project is expected from the European Commission and other sources. The Canadian tour was developed using the model of a similar tour of the EU by Canadian students which is now in its seventh year.
Thinking Canada is the first such tour of its kind of international Canadian Studies students. The European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, considers this new project a “fine example of the EU’s continuing efforts to help … equip people to live in a more diverse and globalized Europe, based on mutual respect for our rich blend of cultures and languages. European students will … be enabled to increase their understanding and knowledge of Canadian institutions and to appreciate the significance of the EU-Canada relationship.” The Canadian Ambassador to the EU, H.E. Ross Hornby, and the EU Ambassador to Canada, H. E. Matthias Brinkmann both endorsed the tour for the rich insights and opportunities it provides to participants and the future of Canada-EU relations. For detailed information on the study tour, see http://www.thinking-canada.eu/.
The Canada-Hungary Educational Foundation is interested in cooperating with the European Commission and the European Network of Canadian Studies and has met with the pioneering group of Thinking Canada participants and the tour organizers during their Ottawa stay. One of CHEF’s goals is to assist in ensuring that future Thinking Canada study tours will include at least one participant from Hungary who might take advantage of an internship following the tour and gain additional knowledge of and professional experience in Canada. To this end we have reached agreement in principle to support the participation of one Hungarian student on next year’s tour and seek to provide an internship experience for him/her in Canada.
CHEF has asked the Hungarian participant of the tour to write a brief report for this website and she was kind enough to take the time to do it. Here it is:
Report on the Thinking Canada Study Tour 2010
October 28th, 2010
Anita Demény, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
From the very beginning, the Thinking Canada 2010 program was an ambitious undertaking. Admittedly, its aim was to give us students an understanding of Canada that was both detailed and comprehensive, academic and practical. Adhering to this, the schedule was prestigious - and packed, its informal motto being "exhausting and exhaustive". Even so, I guess we all had our doubts about how much can possibly be achieved through a trip like this. I must say, personally it went far beyond all my expectations.
We were a diverse group, representing almost 20 different countries in the EU and coming from very different academic backgrounds. We were composed of students of American studies, international relations, economics and law as well as languages and journalism. The first real challange was to get to know each other, and throughout the tour we learned a great deal not only about Canada but about the challanging differences existing within the European Union. Read more...