Véronique Rendell‑Fournier at the Belgrade European Union Model

A day in the life

Véronique Rendell‑Fournier at the Belgrade European Union Model

Veronique R-F in Belgrade2

The simulation as an exercise was a success but the real learning came from experiencing different cultures and attitudes.

 

Véronique Rendell-Fournier
(Photo by Dimitar Chatleski)

Véronique reports from Belgrade


This past October I attended the Belgrade European Union Model (BEUM) in Belgrade, Serbia, where participants discussed the issues of EU expansion and Iran’s nuclear program. Thanks to Dalhousie’s European Union Centre of Excellence and its funding, I was able to go on this amazing trip.  

For the BEUM exercise, I represented Ireland on the European Council. I was happy to be one of the smaller nations as I had little experience with EU simulations and it allowed for a better understanding of the process without the pressure of representing a larger state. During the simulation I was very aware that I was not a European and did not share in European participants’ mentality or worldview. This was fascinating.

Different ideas, different perspectives


Although the simulation didn’t fully represent how the EU works, according to a fellow participant who’s majoring in the subject, it did produce some very intense discussions. Both topics are extremely relevant and have global implications, and the simulation was able to highlight the range of opinions and concerns of delegates.

It was clear to everyone that a fully operational nuclear program in Iran would be a dangerous situation, but we all had different ideas on how to prevent it.

EU expansion was a different story. To my amusement, a few participants were actually anti-EU and didn’t believe the system was beneficial. Everyone else was split on whether there should be expansion or not. The political debates were fascinating and educational, and complemented the social and cultural differences that were also present. 

Exploring the city


Before arriving in Belgrade, I spent a few days in Amsterdam exploring the city, the sights and interacting with the locals as much as possible. Belgrade proved to be drastically different in character and appearance.

When first entering the main part of the city, bombed out buildings from the 1999 NATO airstrikes are visible and undeveloped. No other city in my experience had had this and it produces an eerie feeling. These buildings clashed with the brand new high-end vehicles not uncommon in the city.

When exploring I found the people to be polite but not necessarily friendly. This was a huge contrast to the Serbian I had met in the summer. My friends were loud, warm and always offering massive amounts of food.

I think this contrast comes from the conflict the region has experienced over the past few decades. The war was terrible and left scars on everyone but the young people oozed with life and a desire to build a brighter future. There reputation for having a vibrant nightlife and student organizations like BEUM trying to encourage political activism and awareness are some examples.

The BEUM organizers believe Serbia has great potential and wanted to share this with international youth. After spending some time there and meeting other young people, it’s hard not to feel the same way.

The simulation as an exercise was a success but the real learning came from experiencing different cultures and attitudes.

Véronique Rendell-Fournier is a fourth-year Political Science student at Dalhousie.