This trip started from the periphery of the Europe, all the way through the heart of the Habsburg Empire, and finally arrived the center of the European Union. Many things happened in between, but the schedule was so compact that I didn’t get any time to reflect about every moment. Here are some pieces.
Let’s stay positive. Sarajevo is amazing!!! Jasminko Halilovic‘s enthusiastic, innovative, and empathy toward war survivors and children’s experiences generated this journey. Conversations with one of my colleague, Merima, in the storage room make me consider the unequal distribution of resources between developed and developing countries. The European Museum Award Conference opened a window which allowed me to see how European intellectuals (outside academia) interpreted historical heritage, global issue, and human rights in todays world.
Many thoughtful conversations and touching moments emerged in Seggau. Thanks to Graz’s staff and HK girl, Yvonne for inspiring me not to be scared of political controversy regarding Taiwan in the first day. Dear Luis kept reminding me that nothing is more important than people, “talk to them!”, so I tried my best in the rest of my time in Europe. In Sean’s words, “the majority is the one that has the ability and resources to build bridges with the minority,” it reveals a new perspective of the migration issue. Professor D.E. Walicek’s presentation was another touching moment, same as my first time visiting the War Childhood Museum, both reminded me that the written personal experiences is the best way to resist for the forgotten and invisible voices from those who have been or are still suffering injustices. It was definitely a pleasure to have Maxine, a single mother with three daughters, as a roommate, you and Rita expanded the limit of my imagination on what I am able to achieve.
Dear Saptarko, the truth is I like that we stood up for each other when that discrimination bullshit happened in the Oszenhausen. Good times and good laughs helped cross the boundaries between culture and gender differences, these are the only things I will remember about the EU program, not “they”.
Four months’ journey in Europe feels like destiny. It allowed me to reconsider what Europe means to me. For a long period, “Europe” was not merely a topic of studies; it was my enlightenment. Europe is the cradle of all the ideas which I stand for, like revolution, liberalism, democracy, freedom of speech, labor unions, and human rights. If I have the ability to rebel against Confucius ideology with independent thinking, if I am courageous enough to challenge the ancient social expectation toward a women or a “good citizen”, if I know how to stand up for myself or other people, it’s probably because I studied European history. I spent my best age on reading about/researching on/traveling around/living in Europe. Finally, I become who I am now.
But what I hate, such as war, genocide, racial discrimination, Islamophobia, nationalism, colonialism, and the ambiguous attitude toward the evil of power, all came from Europe too. One of my remarkable memories of Europe was the tired and worried faces of migrants awaiting an uncertain destiny in the Budapest train station. It was the fundamental reason why I finally left; and it was the motivation of going back to school. And now, (thanks UofT’s education and generous for this trip,) I finally have enough confidence and theoretical base to challenge some of these Europe centric narratives.
2019 summer is so crazy but definitely worth it. Although I was a bit reluctant to leave Europe in 2015, I got another opportunity to drew my European dream to the end, completely, but in a better vision (?).
Finally, the girls I met during this summer, especially those who come from Balkan, thanks for showing me a better world than what I had studied.