Interview by: Ana Alibegova
The young Hanna Starchyk who comes from Belarus and lives in Germany is one of the 100 passionate activists from Europe and around the globe that firmly believe in the European idea. Right on Facebook, she learnt about an internship opportunity in Social Media Management and applied to become part of the OneEurope team. Through the platform OneEurope, young people do not only inform about current European events, but tackle serious issues such as the European identity crisis, youth unemployment, conflicts and quality of education. What makes OneEurope unique from all the other pro-European platforms is exactly the courage to speak aloud about every issue and to empower youth to share their ideas and become active ambassadors, volunteers or occasional writers and regular readers. In the following lines, Hanna is revealing the story behind this grass-root organization.
M!: Where did the idea for OneEurope come from? What is your scope of activities?
Hanna: OneEurope grew from a Facebook group where young Europeans discussed different European issues. In 2011 Ivan Botoucharov and Cherian Grundmann were particularly inspired by the idea of raising the debate on Europe and noticed a huge potential and interest in this field. They decided to launch a website, because the group in Facebook was not enough for the enthusiasm, ideas and sheer amount of members. The idea was supported by many other passionate Europeans that provided technical help in starting the website. There was also a large number of people willing to contribute to the project as authors and editors.
We give Europeans a platform to talk about the issues that are important to them. And they speak out not only for themselves but for their generation. They know that through OneEurope they will be heard. OneEurope’s active presence and strong strategy in social media is one of the key reasons for its popularity: our goal is to provide our audience with information and updates from our website in any social network of their choice. We are glad to say that due to the hard work of our Social Media Managers, OneEurope’s popularity is growing rapidly not only in such social media giants like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, but also in networks aimed at more specific audience like Pinterest, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and VK.
Apart from articles, videos and images produced by OneEurope’s team, we also share information from our partner organizations about European events, initiatives, campaigns and projects. OneEurope also has ambassadors in several European countries, whose role is to represent the project and establish connections with local activists and European initiatives.
M!: Being a grass-root organization, how do you organize your work? How difficult is to coordinate your activists?
Hanna: Well, as far as the organization of the working process is concerned, OneEurope could be a role model for the European Union itself. Although our activists are spread all around Europe, our well-developed communication network allows us to stay in touch 24 hours a day. Each of the volunteers knows that in case of technical, organizational or any other kind of question or problem they can contact other activists in a number of ways. We use GoogleTalk, Skype, Facebook group chats, thematic groups in Facebook, an on-line collaboration tool called Podio, and of course e-mails and newsletters. In our case the geographical variety is rather an advantage than a drawback: due to the difference of the time zones there are always people online ready to help. Moreover, Ivan and Cherian always keep an eye on what is going on at the website and social media platforms, and when it is necessary help the contributors with a better technical or content solution. They both have a huge experience in this sphere.
At the same time, the common interest in the development of OneEurope and in raising awareness of European issues motivates our activists for practically flawless work: they always come up with new ideas and often do more beyond their basic role in the project. It is also the peculiarity of OneEurope that there are no limits for creativity: people learn from each other and try themselves in the spheres they did not dare before. We are very grateful to our outstanding team – people who bring their knowledge, talent, ideas and time to OneEurope. All OneEuropeans have permanent jobs, or are students, and many of them are involved in other projects in their countries and universities. That is why we are especially proud to have such a hardworking and versatile team.