Students unveil neighbourly plan

August 15, 1997

The first westerners to visitAlbania soon after the fall of communism were pleasantly surprised: virtually everybody spoke some foreign language and even pupils in primary schools could recite some of Shakespeare's masterpieces.

But the effort to narrow the gap between West and East and to promote mutual understanding in Central and Eastern European countries remains a priority.

Now, a new Europe-wide project has been launched by the Brussels-based Association of Students in Europe, known as the AEGEE, which should help countries like Albania take steps in this direction.

The AEGEE, one of the largest international student associations of its kind, with 20,000 members from almost 220 university cities all over Europe, is hoping its "Neighbourhood in Europe" project will give young people "cross-cultural communication skills", says Marijke Moed, a leading AEGEE member.

The project follows a successful "micro-university" organised in Prague last year, where political and cultural changes in post-communist countries were discussed.

The main focus of the latest project is the promotion of peaceful coexistence, tolerance and mutual understanding through intercultural learning and training.

AEGEE has already organised a training course in Prague and a conference in Gdansk.

A number of summer courses are taking place in different Eastern European cities, and in September, there will be case-study trips to Moldavia and the Baltic states.

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