Alina Valentin, intern at the European Dialogue Programme of the FNF in Brussesls, shares her experiences presenting our international comic competition “Animate Europe” at the World Forum for Democracy.
The World Forum for Democracy (WDF) is a platform which fosters democratic participation and strengthens democracies by showcasing innovative projects and grassroot initiatives by decision-makers and activists. Considering that this years’ forum evolved around the relationship between education and democracy, we knew it would be a great opportunity to bring our international comic competition “Animate Europe” to Strasbourg. After all, the competition aimed at generating interest and curiosity about Europe and thereby creating civic engagement and democratic foundations for a strong Union and beyond. The feedback we received from the international participants of the WDF very much reinforced both our decision to exhibit the comics (competition round 2015) at the Forum and the value of the competition as such: it gives citizens the power to express their opinions and visions creatively, by combining politics and art and comics in particular.
„This is brilliant! Our people are searching for innovative ways to communicate politics and reach different groups of people apart from those constantly participating – and they haven’t come up with such a great idea! I’m going to tell them about this, this is awesome!”
As I presented the comics to people from all over the world, I was particularly happy to get into conversations with people less involved in comics and arts in general. I especially kept two young English-speaking men in good memory. They themselves were not fond of drawing, but they were so impressed by the idea that they started to think of a strategy to compete anyway: “Well, if I come up with a really good story, I wonder if only drawing stick men would influence my winning chances. We still have three months… we will be sitting under the Christmas tree drawing”. I encouraged them to give it a try and am now very eager and exited to find out if they will actually participate!
Compliments reached us from all sides – from associates of the Council of Europe as one of the organizers of the WDF, over a representative of the English Parliament to collaborators of the Civic Education Academy in the Kyrgyz Republic. I was very impressed not only by the great interest of everyone who stopped at our table, but also by the effect and impact such a creative, innovative ideaas launching a comic competition about Europe can have on citizens from different countries, age groups, organizations and backgrounds.
Overwhelmed by the large number of people interested in the comics, impressed by the diverse stories and experiences they shared with me, enthusiastic about the wide range of audience we reached and pleased with making so many individuals happy with our printed comic books, I returned to Brussels with the feeling that the next competition round, “Re-Animate Europe”, will turn out to be a great success!