Anna Ananieva, the Bulgarian member of the advisory board, reports on a survey she carried out on Bulgarian 16-year-olds’ thoughts on European citizenship.
A long queue is curving outside the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. Most are teenage, eager to attend the miracle called Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where they will see and hear Professor Dumbledore praise Harry for showing moral fibre and therefore meriting full marks. What reminds me with a dose of bitterness how cowardly all we - Bulgarian teens' parents and teachers - have been keeping still and silent the last 15 years and did not utter even one of these sacred words. We "saved" our children the simple words of honour and dignity, of spiritual over material supremacy, of God and Angels, of Goodness and Beauty of the Heart… We kept mum - full of fear being regarded as out-of-date; frightened of preventing them being prepared for the arising materialistic life, dread of the thick-necked boys, who set the rules in the country for years…
What will happen with our boys and girls? Where will they obtain the essence of simple human morality that we got from our parents but failed in passing to them?
All these questions were whirling in my head before presenting my students with the following question - What does it mean to be a European citizen? It would be really interesting to see on paper how these young people, grown up in the computer clubs with the most violent films and videogames, look upon EU citizenship. What is their image of themselves as "Europeans"? Are their fears bigger than their hopes?
Hesitating whether to set the questionnaire anonymous or not, I finally decided in favor of the trustworthy variation and asked them not to put their names beneath, merely a boy/girl marking. I deliberately didn't set any handout with suggested clauses but only the question itself. And here are the 80 BG 16-year-olds' own answers:
What does it mean to be a European citizen? (Click here to see a statistics)
More opportunities, freedom, new beginning - 15 boys, 18 girls;
Better standard of life, new jobs - 16 boys, 11 girls;
A common look indicates that the majority of young people - about 90 per cent - have a positive attitude, only about 10 percent are desperate and frightened of the idea of EU citizenship. Bearing in mind the atmosphere of constant fear and pessimism about the European future, inseminated by the media (only 2-3 BG TV programs of 20 approve a positive image of EU, neither a single newspaper) - this result comes only to remind us, that our children appear to be cleverer than their parents and gained their confidence in the teeth of the time they grew up. They did it by themselves. Or, with some little help from outside.
Thank you, Joanne Rowling, for teaching our kids from outside...