Summer University in France 2018

Not exactly knowing what I was to experience on my trip to St. Malo I started this adventure thinking it would be the perfect opportunity to revive my French skills and learn about ecology. Luckily this trip turned out to be much more than just a French lesson. Instead I came back home with precious life lessons, unforgettable memories and a heart-warming smile.

As hard as first impressions can be, as soon as I met my fellow Austrian delegates I knew that the farewell would be even harder. Katharina, Joey, Marie, Gregor and I were all excited to get to our first stop, the city of love: Paris! There we met the participants from all over Europe and got to know each other better by playing games but most importantly we were informed about what was going to expect us in the Summer University in St. Malo. Even though we only had a few hours in Paris we managed to make the best out of them seeing the Eiffel Tour, L’Arc the Triomphe and a few of us also went on a boat trip through Paris.

YoungCaritas in Europe group at the summer university in Saint Malo
YoungCaritas in Europe group at the summer university in Saint Malo

The next day we woke up early in the morning and got ready for a 6-hours-long bus ride to St. Malo. All the tiredness from the bus ride vanished when we were greeted by dancing and smiling people. The joyful music and the happiness set the right mood for the upcoming days. Over 600 people with different backgrounds were put in so called “villages” which helped the organizers keep everything structured. Being in these villages also helped us to find a safe space because the area was huge and one could easily feel overwhelmed and lost. After a short introduction from the mayor of the villages we got to choose what workshop we wanted to attend the following days.

Theme of the summer university 2018 : "I have a (green) dream"
Theme of the summer university 2018 : “I have a (green) dream”

The main topic of the Summer University 2018 was ecology so the workshops ranged from issues like upcycling, ecosystems, to textiles and many more. The workshops were divided into a practical and a theoretical part. In the practical part we were able to use our knowledge and create something new. In between the workshops the program offered options like visiting Islamic or catholic prayers, yoga and a fashion show with sustainable clothing but also a trip to the beach. To compliment the ecologic theme of the university we were also asked to prepare dinner together. It was an unforgettable moment to see all of us work together to create a delicious meal. The realization that this was made possible due to our teamwork made it even more special. What we then called a “salad party” was a perfect ending to this significant and educational trip. Not only did we learn important lessons from our workshops, we also learned from each other and every single participant is ready to spread the message of how important it is to live more sustainable and ecological in order to save our resources. I am glad I had the opportunity to be part of the Summer University 2018 and meet great individuals without whom the trip would have been half as memorable. Oh, and yes, I did actually improve my French – Au revoir!

~ Chrislane Barros Bomfim Da Silva