By Sonja Nikcevic
There was something in the air last night in Hamburg. And it wasn’t just the endless, pouring rain, the beginning of a long awaited weekend, or the Christmas market magic. It was time for football, and St. Pauli were playing.
Just like with so many others, Hamburg’s city lines are divided by football. And while around the world these lines can run as deep as religion, class and politics – have you ever heard of a dynamic where one club is mainstream & (arguably) successful and the other just plain übercool?
Grotesque: adjective. “comically or repulsively ugly or distorted. incongruous or inappropriate to a shocking degree.” (Oxford Dictionaries).
A cute guy with a perfect nose comes out of a rain of confetti. He is accompanied by a robot-like figure, covered all in white and wearing a robot-mask. The cute guy is wearing a leopard print scarf and a red jacket. The crowd is ecstatic, just as it has been for the last two hours. What will the cute guy do next? This evening is full of surprises, and the crowd is hungry for another one. Surprisingly, the guy and the robot do not start dancing, twerking, or lighting a joint on stage. The cameras do not fly around them, no music is being heard. the guy addresses the audience, ask them for their attention: “um… I’d like to invite you to join me in a moment of silence for the people in the Philippines that are suffering because of this horrible typhoon that’s affected this country”. The audience is obviously baffled. This whole evening they are encouraged to party like there is no tomorrow. Now this pretty-boy wants them to be silent? The “moment” lasts 10 seconds, as it is clear that a lot of people in the crowd did not understand what he asked for, or worse – they did understand, but genuinely do not give a rat’s arse.
I like to imagine that that’s the sentence that was said before the French beheaded Louis XVI, King of France 2 centuries ago. Poor Louis could only exclaim: “I am innocent” before the deed was done. This deed ended monarchy in France and of course the French Revolution is an important part of history, a mostly admired part of it.
Talking about Europe is not always a popular subject. Across nations, borders, ages and citizens, there are different ideas and opinions about it. However, to me, that’s what makes the discussion interesting.
To me and apparently for about 100 other European students: I am currently in Utrecht at a five day congress from the Forum for European Journalism Students, where we’re discussing the topic ‘Imagine Europe’. Going beyond European politics and economics, we debate on culture, society, identity and solidarity.
It is also questioned if reporting and writing about the continent is something that could and should change, if we can restore some optimism about Europe through journalism and if there is a European identity. About the question where Europe starts and where it stops, in political terms, but also when it comes to borders. There are many questions being asked here, some answered, some not. Here are some of my notes and scribbles of the first two days.