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Preparations in Brussels, Belgium


We are a group of students (17 to 19 years old) preparing for bacalaureat at the European School Brussels I, Belgium. We are mostly children of officials in the European Institutions with family backgrounds mostly from different parts of Europe. There are currently about 3,200 students in all sections from kindergarten to secondary. We are lucky to have a beautiful school.

In the Arts class (4h/week) of Ms. Ghallale we engaged during last school year (2008) in a twinning with the College in Kayar, a fishing village north of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. This started out with a concern of massive environmental degradation of the sea and the coast. In Senegal the fish catches of the small-scale fishermen operating out of Kayar are only a fraction of what they were only a few years ago and the loss of productivity from massive overfishing mostly by industrial vessels (many from abroad or foreign vessels 'going local') threatens the livelihood of the entire community, even though they also produce vegetables for Dakar and engage in some trade.

We wanted to articulate our reaction to the scientific facts of overfishing and other problems through works of art that would instill a sense of shock and alert in the visitors. We wanted to make them aware that we can not take healthy oceans and ecosystems for granted, just like we were initially not aware of the problems, because we were not confronted first hand with them earlier on.

It was in this context that we organised our first exhibition in the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the European School Brussels I, 23-24 May 2008. Under the auspices of the European Research Commissioner, Dr. Janez Potočnik, we displayed 57 pieces from the students in Kayar and from our own production. In the faces and the comments of the visitors, we saw much more emotional reactions than one normally stimulates with a scientific publication. See the pictures of this exhibition here.

Have a look at some impressions from our 50th anniversary celebrations with many cultural and culinary attractions (see the article in the student newsletter 'Connection' in French).

The success and the positive reactions to the exhibition triggered the wish to continue and expand by opening to other school groups, scientists, artists and anybody interested in more sustainable seas and societies. This is when, thanks to some of the initial promoters, contacts were established to people elsewhere: Brazil, Germany, Guinea, Italy, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru.

The current phase of preparations in Brussels

We were also looking for an opportunity to bring ideas and work going on in the different locations together in another joint exhibition. This is why were were very happy about the invitation to contribute to another, somewhat bigger, exhibition in Amsterdam, in the premises of the V MARE Conference, 9-11 July 2009.

And foremost, we know much more needs to be done, because the problems of overfishing and other utterly unsustainable practices are not going away at all. This is why Ségolène Jeanjean put together a slide show for more awareness on rampant overfishing. At the same time, we believe that collaborating with other youth groups in other European and African countries and elsewhere will allow us to gain valuable new experiences and open new horizons, especially as we are about to leave school and enter a new phase of our lives.

And this time round, we want to meet face-to-face with the African and European participants, not only show their work! This is why we are, among others, fund raising for the participation of African groups in Amsterdam as seen in the opening menu.

Watch out for more news as the Amsterdam exhibition dates come closer.

Coordinator: Giulia BOTTONI (IT/DE)

Coach: Ms. Bettina GHALLALE, Arts Coordinator at the European School Brussels I

Click here for the general website of our school.