From 23 to 27 October, the Competitors and Mentors participating in Phase 2 of the regional competition #InTheirEyes met in Jordan for a training session on the subject of the competition and Europe. For five days, they discussed content creation, algorithms and trends, while also sharing laughter, tears, accolades, confidences, meals and much more! Feedback on this exciting event.
Following Phase 1 of the regional competition #InTheirEyes, 16 Competitors were selected, two from each country: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. The 8 teams, supported by their Mentors, headed to Amman in Jordan for a training event combining information sessions, meetings with EU representatives and site visits. The first day was dedicated to the European Union, its institutions and its programmes and projects in the region. Pietro Ienna, Attaché/Programme Manager at the EU Delegation to Jordan, and Christina Moldt and Eleni Papoutsi, representatives of the European Commission Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG Near), spoke to the candidates about the major priorities of EU cooperation with the Southern neighbourhood, as well as the role of the European Union delegations in these countries. Next, the participants had the opportunity to meet Her Excellency, Maria Hadjitheodosiou, EU ambassador to Jordan, who was happy to answer questions on the subject of diplomacy, as well as her own experiences as a working woman and mother. She conveyed a strong message of hope and perseverance to the young attendees, encouraging them to live their dreams to the full and believe in their potential.
The EU in Jordan: words and deeds
During the training event, the participants had several opportunities to meet the beneficiaries of projects jointly funded by the European Union in Jordan. These included alumni of the Erasmus+ programme, as well as the beneficiaries of EDU Syria and Innovate Jordan, some of whom were awarded scholarships to continue their studies in Jordan or abroad, while others received training and mentoring and acquired new skills to help them in their search for a job. Various trips were also organised, including visits to Orange Digital Villages in Irbid, an innovation space jointly funded by the European Union and open to young people from around the region, including a coding academy, a cutting-edge fabrication laboratory (FabLab) and BIG by Orange, a knowledge platform for startups that support projects by young entrepreneurs. The second visit was to the Halloumi Foods facility, the first specialist noodle factory in the Middle East. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) helped the company gain ISO22000:2018 certification, a quality label that requires every link in the supply chain to be safe and compliant with international standards.
Much more than a competition…
The #InTheirEyes 2 adventure began last May when a call for applications aimed at content creators was launched from Brussels. It received over 370 applications from the 8 participating countries. Over several weeks, the candidates took part in information sessions, gradually familiarising themselves with the European Union, its institutions and activities in the Southern neighbourhood region. Each team then visited an EU-funded project in their home country. This was an opportunity to meet the beneficiaries and speak to them about the real impact of these projects on their careers, education or communities. At the end of Phase 1, two Competitors from each country were selected for their ongoing efforts to promote EU initiatives and the opportunities they offer young people, their drive to continue the adventure and their audiovisual output and social media presence.
A human adventure!
But #InTheirEyes is much more than a competition. It is a precious opportunity for young people from different countries and backgrounds to meet one another, to explore their shared Mediterranean identity and discover what makes each country unique. Not long ago, they were strangers. Now they are united in diversity, friends despite adversity. Ghada puts it perfectly: “From the very first meeting, the team has constantly stressed that #InTheirEyes was more than a competition; it was a human adventure. I didn’t understand. I would say to myself that a competition is a competition, and that we were all competitors. Now, after these few days in Jordan, I get it! We have already gained so much. We have learnt from one another and discussed our home countries and cultures. We enrich each other with our differences. Sharing these unique moments is a human experience that means much more than any competition. That’s the real win here! ”