By feeling European, you reap the benefits of cooperation and what’s more, it truly feels like cooperation in the common interest. You can both enjoy the glorious taste of fresh tomatoes and meet your colleagues without hiding a dagger in the pouch.
As people are made to believe that they are kin with someone living at the other end of the country, it becomes much easier to justify to them why they should agree to pay taxes to distant communities, or why they should sacrifice their lives as they defend the strange region against an invader. If these bonds of loyalty can exist between Helsinki and Rovaniemi, then why not Helsinki and Athens?
Since I became involved in European affairs, I have had to witness countless group discussions that failed to reach any detailed conclusion, and which resorted to a fallback conclusion along the lines of “we really need to engage young people”. That doesn’t mean Erasmus+ isn’t making a difference.
At many international sporting events, among others, people are forcibly fitted into nationality-based silos that feel artificial to increasingly many people. At EYE, this is not the case. Participants are members of groups that can be based on any common interest. This is not a world of rigid country quotas, but one where people are treated as individuals.
The Finnish word “impivaaralaisuus” is difficult to translate directly, but one can always explain that it refers to a certain parochiality and close-mindedness represented by the main characters of the classic novel Seitsemän veljestä (“The Seven Brothers”) from 1870, an era permeated by national romanticism in Finland. Imagine the joy of learning similar Czech words, brought to you by English-speaking Czechs! Indeed, a common European language existing alongside national languages can broaden the horizons of all of us.