28 European capitals, 8 professions, over 230 interviews with Youropeans, people like you and me. Our neighbours – some of them fairly distant neighbours – are all members of the same club, the EU. The book and site provide a platform for them to talk about their work, their life, and about Europe. The people’s Europe, as it were.
Madrid, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Bucharest, the European capitals: they all have squares, metros, football stadiums, museums, poor people, busy people. Every city has its policemen, nurses, judges, artists and bankers, all doing more or less the same job as in any other country. The same? I’m not so sure and that’s what I wanted to find out: what is the difference between a policeman in Zagreb and one in Helsinki? Are there similarities? How do they view their own lives? What do they think of their country? How do they feel about Europe? Do they share common values or just common markets?
The answers to these questions will provide an insight into these countries and therefore into Europe. And if I’m able to spread these insights, if a lot of people hear and see them, I hope they will help us all to understand our neighbors better, even the ones who don’t exactly live next door. Europe is becoming smaller and smaller as a result of television, internet, travel, and work abroad, but there is still a lot we don’t know about one another. This is not a scientific or academic publication, but I hope it will be a good read: a collection of people’s stories about Europe, the real Europe of striking differences and surprising similarities.
Youropeans is many things: a website and a book to begin with, based on interviews with more than 230 Europeans. During the project, which began in July 2013, I intend to visit all 28 EU capitals and interview 8 people in each city:
- a policeman/woman
- a hairdresser
- a doctor
- an artist
- a local celebrity
- a sex worker
- an entrepreneur
- an immigrant
The portraits of the Youropeans I met have been posted on this site, and the gallery will grow with each city I visit. The stories provided by my fellow Europeans will serve as working material for the book, which will be published in Dutch in 2016, in other languages later that year.
Youropeans is a project in progress: Youropeans wants to grow out to be more than a book and a site. It would be great if many Europeans would become Youropeans, if they would join the project, add their stories, and would meet other Youropeans. The place to do so is the Facebook page, Youropeans, click here. That is online, but soon Youropeans will provide a great way for its members to actually meet each other in person. How? I will tell you later!
A book and a site: what’s the difference? I’m still trying to figure that out. Some, but not all, of the portraits I post online will appear in the book. The interviews I am currently conducting are the raw material I will be using to identify themes and common threads, and to explore the differences as well as the striking similarities among Europeans in general and within professional groups. The idea is to write a book that is a good read, one that you can open to any page and start reading.