European Spring Day 2009

Festival in Austria


The Austrian Spring Day Festival 2009 was held on April 3, 2009, and we were very glad, that we could again use the beautiful festival hall at the Haus der Kaufmannschaft in Vienna for this event. Min.Rat Dr. Hawle and his Team at the BMUKK had again supported and encouraged all the Austrian schools, which had registered for Spring Day 2009, and I had again done my best to answer questions and offer support for organizing exhibitions, events etc.


Until April, 198 schools had registered for Spring Day. 105 had submitted a short report on their European projects, 18 had submitted more detailed reports for the competition, whose motto had been: "Creativitiy and Innovation". The prizes, which were granted to the winners this year, were sponsored by ENIS Austria. Three schools could go home with Acer Netbooks, which will help them make a step further in the direction of digitalized lessons and projects in the future.   

Dr. Hawle, who again moderated the event, could welcome the following guests: Mag. Wolfgang Hiller (Head of the Information Office of the European Parliament for Austria), Mag. Richard Kühnel (Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Austria), DDr. Christoph Thun-Hohenstein (Excecutive Director of departure) and Christian Keglovits (Press -and Public Relations Manager of the European Center for Renewable Energiy in Güssing). Mag. Othmar Karas, MEP, Vice President of the EVP-ED-Parliamentary group and Chairman of the EVP-Europa Club at the European Parliament came a little bit later, as MEPs have a lot of appointments at the moment. He arrived exactly at the right moment for handing over the prizes to the winning schools.


After the welcome message of Min.Rat Dr. Hawle, Mag. Kühnel put some stress on the importance of the Spring Day Project, which enables students all over Europe to discuss EU-related topics, to express their ideas for improvements and to actively participate in the organization of the future of Europe.

Mr. Keglovits astonished all of us with his presentation of the highly innovative ways of energy production, which make the community of Güssing independent from energy resources outside of its own area of responsibilty. He also drew the attention of the audience to that fact, that the initiators of this innovative project did not only have the necessary courage to start such an initiative, but had also welcomed the financial support of the European Union in order to implement their pioneering ideas.

Mag. Hiller pointed out how important it is for everybody, but especially for young people, to actively contribute to the future of Europe. Those winners, who are at least 16 years old, will have a chance to make their voices heard in the next EU elections (June 2009) - but of course also in many other fields.  

Also the younger EU citizens have a number of possibilities, e.g. a wide variety of EU-projects, in which they can learn more about other cultures and languages and can enlarge their horizons.

DDr. Thun-Hohenstein, whose goal at departure is to create a sustainable basis for creative people in Vienna and thus enable a rise in the number of businesses and the creation of new jobs, has for a long time worked for a better Europe. He was Austria's leading lawyer in the negotiations for becoming an EU member state, and from 1999 to 2007 he was the general manager of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York. It is out of the question, that he has already enlarged his horizon and can thus act as an ideal, which young people should follow.

from left to right: Christian Keglovits, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein,

Richard Kühnel, WolfgangHiller, Reinhold Hawle

Now it was the students' turn. They were invited to present their excellent projects. The Rudolf Steiner Landschule Schönau (Lower Austria) presented the Austrian Students' Olympic Games, which will take place for the 10th time at the school this year.
The young people, aged between 10 and 18 years, who had come to the festival with their teacher Angelika Lütkenhorst, explained the rules of a wrestling competition, declaimed the Olympic Oath, and sang the Olympic Hymn for the audience.
During the presentation of the Rudolf Steiner Landschule Schönau, Mag. Karas had arrived, and we were very glad that he could now join in and hand over the prizes.
Dir. Gertraud Greiner, the principal of the HS 1 Schärding (Upper Austria), presented those students to the audience, who had been especially creative. The short movie "The new classmate" as well as the cartoon "Cultural Capital" were impressive and funny as well. The school chose a motto for its European projects, which shows the teachers' and students' high motivation: Friendships start with encounters. Europe is the ideal place for that!"
The Netbook will certainly be of good use for the youngsters in their next creative projects.
Finally, it was the turn of the students of the BORG 15 Henriettenplatz (Vienna). Their project was the most comprehensive one, as schools from Austria, Finland and Russia had been participating. It is also due to the intensive support of the coordinators at Kulturkontakt Austria that such an encompassing project could be carried out.
Tow aspects made this project outstanding: the fantastic website, on which visitors can "travel" to three European cities, and the fact, that one of the students, Anna S., had submitted the project, and not one of the coordinating teachers.
One of these teachers had not been able to stay in the project until the end, as she had given birth to a baby - and so the youngest visitor of the festival was only 7 weeks old. He will certainly once become an enthusiastic European.

After the project presentations, Mag. Karas once again congratulated the winners - not only epescially on their wonderful projects, but also on their general commitment to Europe - its bright and dark sides, and its future. He encouraged them to carry on like this. Maybe they will be able to follow in his footsteps in the future, and represent Austria so diligently and conscientiously in the European Parliament as he does now. As Mag. Hiller had already pointed out before, being an MEP is really hard work, with all the meetings, work in committees and a lot of travelling. But only those, who stand up for Europe and also arouse interest for the affairs of their own countries in Europe, are able to boost the success of "Project Europe".

Finally, the buffet offered one more opportunity for the guests and the winners to talk about certain topics they were especially interested in, but of course also to eat some sandwiches and drink something. The Spring Day Cake was a grand sweet closing of a beautiful festival on a sunny spring day.

Spring Day was continued until the end of the school year, and all participating schools were invited to upload short reports plus photos of their Europe projects in the section "15 minutes of fame" on the Spring Day website.


Here you can watch the movie of the Spring Day 2009 festival.


© Dr. Susanne Pratscher


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