Our last day before the long weekend (and our last day at GTL!) was full of presentations and tying loose ends together before we head to Brussels! To start the day, Dr. Birchfield treated us for our last day of class with a variety of tasty pastries from a local bakery. After getting our sugar fix, we started with brief group presentations for Dr. Markley’s Human Rights class.
For these presentations, we referred back to our EU member state that we did presentations on a few weeks back, and this time focused on what human rights offenses are present there today. We grouped ourselves based on development level/similarities between countries (ex: well developed democracy, post- Communist state, etc.) and then focused on one human rights issue in this region that we found particularly interesting. My group consisted of Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia, and we chose to focus on the discrimination against the Roma people in Romania and elsewhere. We first began by giving a history on the Roma people and their migration from India to Europe, as well as the history of discrimination against them in Europe. For many centuries they were enslaved, and still today face discrimination preventing them from obtaining jobs, housing, and education around Europe. Dr. Markley’s first-hand Romanian insight was particularly helpful, as she was able to further fill us in on the Roma’s access to education, and the conflict between the cultural Roma tradition of pulling girls out of school and the need for education as a basic human right. She compared the treatment of the Roma during the Communist regime (during which the Roma were forced to change their culture to fit that of Romania) to today, where they are heavily discriminated against, but maintain the ability to act in accordance with their own culture. From here, we had a brief discussion on the difference between acculturation and assimilation in relation to human rights, particularly for the Roma people. Other groups gave interesting presentations regarding topics ranging from Finland’s data collection to the refugee crisis and mistreatment of refugees in Hungary, Greece, and others.
After presentations, we took a brief break in which many of us decided to return our rental bikes to the shop in Metz. Despite our own doubts about our ability to bike all the way into town (in a group of 19!) without a crash or fall, we all successfully made it to the bike shop, enjoying the beautiful sights of Metz along the way for one of our final times. Afterwards, many of us feasted on delicious crepes in town before heading back to GTL for the afternoon session of class.
Back in class, we all continued to work on our argument for our scenario for the future of Europe, as outlined in the White paper. This paper presents five future possibilities for the European Union by 2025, with possibilities ranging from simply improving the current EU setup to decreasing the EU back to just an economic community. My group was given scenario 1, entitled “Carrying On”, in which the EU maintains its current institutions as well as improving upon policy and functions of the EU. This includes a more outlined and communal immigration process as well as improvements on the stability of the Euro. Each group gave a brief “rough presentation” on our scenario, to be perfected during our time in Brussels, and debated again a few weeks from now when we have more polished research and first hand experience from our site visits and briefings in Brussels.
Today was a perfect wrap up for our time in Metz, with the future of Europe scenarios helping to fuel our thinking before our time in Brussels, when we are fully delved into the world of the EU. As class ended, Dr. Birchfield gave us a brief overview of what our next few days will look like, getting everyone excited for what’s to come!