Summer Study Tour to Europe – Day 2 (Part 3)

Day 2! Waffles, beverages and some amazing learning experiences!  To sum up day 2 is difficult in a short blog, since there were many planned and unplanned adventures.  To start, I had the best hotel breakfast I have ever had!  Ok, so being from Pittsburgh, my expectations were low, but honestly, it was delicious—pastries, cappuccinos, cheeses, ham, and eggs.  After breakfast was a journey to the European Union Commission.  We were welcomed like special guests and treated as diplomats.  The EU Commission had shared with us great speakers and lots of valuable information (see Lisa’ blog for speakers and topics).  Some of the “OH WOW NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT” moments included:

  • people seeking to be a member of the European Parliament can not accept campaign finances from companies and special interest groups
  • natural resources of the EU member states were regulated by the EU
  • the amount of sovereignty that the EU countries have given in order to be a global power—because alone, these nations can not compete with other large nations
  • Greece and their global crisis
  • Enlargement (not the best word to use in US classrooms) Policies and practices— this was really unique and a power tool to bring about change in countries who seek membership
  • Also that Morocco has applied to be a member 3 times only to be told that they are not on the continent of Europe

So, the EU Commission was really a great morning of learning!

Next stop- the Arc de Triumph!  Not Paris, but the one Leopold built in Brussels.  I truly think the “ Builder King” could have been a little less greedy and a little kinder to others cultures, but Brussels does have some amazing structures because of his strong desire to compete with other European capitals.

After lunch we talked with a wonderful and smart person from Carnegie Europe.  He was witty and clearly researched the EU and foreign policy.  Especially because of General Gates comments a few weeks ago, this was very timely.

Brussels is truly the center of the world (sorry cartographers-I am sure this is not true, but it feels like it).  With all of these international institutions having headquarters here, I feel like everyone I meet has brought a piece of the world and culture to me.  Even at dinner, we sat next to 2 airplane pilots from Israel—discussing current events with them was truly an unscheduled learning experience.  Also, riding the trolley, meeting great people and of course eating waffles made today fantastic!

Jen Klein
Fox Chapel Area High School