Eleven High Schools in the Midwest Participated in Euro Challenge 2014

Eleven high schools from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin participated in the 2014 Euro Challenge.

GlobalFest 2014

GlobalFest is an annual event that celebrates world languages and cultures, and encourages middle and high school students to make connections with the global society.

U-46 Teacher Travels the Globe to Enhance Her Lessons

Elgin Area School District teacher Chris LaRue spent two weeks in Turkey in 2013, a trip that was almost entirely funded by the Turkish Cultural Foundation.

EU Centers of Excellence Education Trip to Belgium

Read two teachers' experiences during the 2013 EU Centers of Excellence Education Trip to Belgium.

TED Helps European and American Educators Connect

The Transatlantic Educators Dialogue (TED), held from February through May, gives American and European educators an opportunity to meet virtually to discuss educational issues.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Day to Inspire; A Lifetime to Learn: Chicago Foundation for Education (CFE) Teacher Workshop at Whitney Young High School

by Dinah Armstead
The “A Day to Inspire; A Lifetime to Learn” one-day teacher’s conference in Chicago certainly lived up to its title. It was very exciting, fast paced, and packed full of stories, lessons, tools and networking opportunities for teachers.  Here I’ll describe one of the workshops I attended, but first I’ll pass on some information that may prove to be very important to educators reading this blog.

Part of what I did was to help out by sitting at the University of Illinois European Union Center booth to talk to teachers as they came by.  Please find below opportunities whose deadlines are fast approaching: 

Opportunities for high school teachers and students through the EU Center at the University of Illinois
  • Euro Challenge: The Euro Challenge is an exciting educational opportunity for high school students to learn about the European Union and the euro. Come learn about how to prepare for the Euro Challenge competition at an expense-paid teacher orientation/info workshop in Chicago on November 5, 2012. Travel grants and substitute teacher fee are also available. The deadline to apply for the workshop is October 22, 2012. For more information about the competition, workshop, and how to register, see the competition website.
  • High School Essay Contest: This year’s essay is all about “Competition & Cooperation,” and what it means for European countries to compete and cooperate within the European Union, across the Atlantic, and beyond. The top three student winners will receive cash prizes, and the winning student’s teacher will win a place on the summer study tour to Europe in June, 2013. Entries must be received by December 17, 2012. For further information and submission form, please see the contest website.
  • Illinois High School Translation Competition: The Center for Translation Studies and the European Union Center at the University of Illinois will hold a translation competition from EU languages into English for Illinois High-School students in the spring of 2013. The winners will be brought to the Champaign-Urbana campus for the one-day program, “Translation Day at Illinois”, on Thursday May 2, 2013. Teachers must register their schools by March 1, 2013. For more details and contact information see the competition website.
  • Summer Curriculum Development Workshop: “The Timeless Mediterranean and the New European Union: Transnational Spaces and Integration,” June 10-12, 2013. Housing is provided, travel grants and CPDUs/CEUs are available. The deadline to apply is May 6, 2013. Seats are limited, so register early! For more information and on-line registration visit the workshop website.

Opportunities for High School Students to Study Abroad

Every year the U.S. Dept. of State sponsors several prestigious scholarships, such as the Fulbright awards.  I am an “alumna” of the “Critical Language Scholarship Program”, which allowed me to travel to Morocco for a summer to study Arabic.  But, one doesn’t have to wait until college to take advantage of some of these government programs.  I’ve listed information below that was sent to me for dissemination among high school students and those who work with them.

The Department of State is currently recruiting for several study abroad scholarship programs for U.S. citizen high school students:

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) offers merit-based scholarships to U. S. high-school aged students for overseas study of seven critical foreign languages:  Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian and Turkish.  The NSLI-Y program is designed to immerse participants in the cultural life of the host country, giving them invaluable formal and informal language practice and sparking a lifetime interest in foreign languages and cultures.  Applications for summer 2013 and academic year 2013-2014 programs are due November 1, 2012.

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad Program offers scholarships to American high school students to spend the 2013-14 academic year in countries that may include Bosnia & Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mali (semester), Morocco, Oman, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, and Turkey.  This post-9/11 program focuses on increasing understanding between people in the U.S. and countries with significant Muslim populations. The application deadline is January 10, 2013.

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX) was established in 1983 to celebrate German-American friendship based on common values of democracy.  Secondary school students live with host families, attend local schools, and participate in community life in Germany.  Young professionals (undergraduates) and high school graduates of vocational studies aged 18-24 study and participate in practical training. Scholarships are now available for academic year 2013-14; application deadlines vary by U.S. region and range from September 2012 to January 2013.  For more information and application deadlines, visit the organization in charge of recruitment for your state.

The American Youth Leadership Program offers opportunities for American high school students and educators to travel abroad on a three to four week-long exchange program to gain first-hand knowledge of foreign cultures and to collaborate on solving global issues. Several different organizations implement this program, and each has organized an academic and experiential educational exchange focused on dialogue and debate, leadership development, and community service. Recruitment areas and application deadlines vary, so please check the American Youth Leadership Program website for more information.

Other Sessions/Highlights: "Immigrants, Refugees and Children: Acceptance and Understanding"

This session was conducted by a Chicago public school teacher who had won a small grant for “Teaching Social Justice through Literature”.  She used the grant to purchase a small library of children’s books on the topics of refugees and culture differences. A couple of the titles in her library (which she brought her for our viewing) were,  “Four feet, two sandals” and “Mohammed’s Journey:  A Refugee Diary”. Students read and analyzed these books throughout her unit. She began her presentation by leading us in an activity which she often used with her students to jumpstart this unit. We had only two minutes to think of and write down three things that we would grab in our homes if we were suddenly told that we had two minutes to grab anything before we left our house for good, never to see it again. We then discussed what we took and why, and the stress we would feel by being put into such a situation.  The children would then be led in the activity to consider that sometimes this is the case for someone who is a refugee. They were encouraged to be empathetic, and consider how upset they would be, and understand how upsetting it must be in the life of a refugee. The unit went on to use other engaging activities, including having the students make passports, learn about Ellis Island, and learn basic stats on refugees today. The teacher utilized a free lesson plan online designed to guide students toward understanding how it might be to be in someone else’s shoes. She found resources for teachers including lesson plans and videos on a United Nations website:
She also shared some other resources for teachers to teach on this and related topics:
I really liked these lesson plans and the unit as a whole.  I believe they could be particularly helpful across many different student groups.  The unit could be adjusted to different ages by choosing books appropriate to the target age.  Also, the teacher explained that winning the grant was something that she felt was especially useful because after working with the classroom books she was able to purchase with the grant money, and developing materials to go with the unit alongside the books, she felt that her time was well invested because should she ever change schools, she would be allowed to take the books and materials with her. Finally, she also shared with us another website that had free stuff for teachers teaching this topic:
All in all, I learned a great deal.  I was reminded of what great resources exist in Chicago and what great people work in Chicago Public Schools.  Plus, it was special being back in the high school where I had been a student oh, so many years ago.  Even better is the fact I learned in 2008, that before I was ever a student there, a certain other Chicagoan had gone to school there as a teenager, First Lady, Michelle Obama. 

"Story-in-a-can"

In the main exhibition hall, there was one exhibit called, “Story-in-a-Can” that demonstrated a lesson plan where the teacher guided students in the construction of a physical medium- an empty paper towel roll cylinder placed inside a large cylinder- shaped box (like an empty oatmeal box).  Several sheets of paper containing a story were taped together in a long strip and then rolled onto the roll and placed in the box.  The box had a slit opening where one could pull the story paper out, similar to how we would pull paper towels.

They had a handout that explained how this medium could be used to teach anything that required sequential events from personal narratives, to how-to-books, to experiments to history, to math.

But the best part was the student participation. There were four high school students, three girls and one boy who were at the conference that day, even though it was a conference for teachers.  They proudly demonstrated and explained their (history) stories-in-cans to anyone who would listen.  Listening to them was informative and an absolute delight.

Dinah Armstead works in the Division of Instructional Development at the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois.  She is currently working on a Ph.D. in Global Studies in Education in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois.  Her interests include Educational Rights for North African (and other) Immigrants, focusing on females in the European Union and Language Policy.  

Photo credit:  
"Globe" (c) 2009 Groume, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

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Monday, October 1, 2012

2012 High School Essay Contest: Open Now

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois announces its ninth annual high school essay contest.

All participants (teachers and students) who invest serious effort in research and writing will receive a certificate of participation.  The best essays will be singled out and honored with a first, second-, and third-place award. The first place winner will receive a $200 cash prize, and the teacher of the winning student will win a place on a study tour to Europe in Summer 2013.

This year’s essay topic is “Competition & Cooperation.” The European Union is a major force on the world stage; its member states collaborate extensively both within and outside of its borders. These relationships are built not only through high-level politics and trade, but also in everyday society: sports, arts, culture, science, and research all play a role. Collaborative efforts are evolving amidst the current financial crisis and other global events, such as the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Participants should discuss in an essay of 800-1200 words what it really means for European countries to compete and cooperate within the EU, across the Atlantic, and beyond!

Visit our Essay Contest page for more information.

Photo credit:  "Pencil," (c) 2011 Laddir, used under a used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coming Soon: Euro Challenge 2013

Credit © European Union, 2012
The Euro Challenge 2013 is an exciting educational opportunity for high school students (grades 9 and 10) to learn about the European Union (EU) – the largest trading partner of the US – and its single currency, the euro.

For the competition, students research problems and solutions to Europe's economic challenges. A team of three to five students presents its findings in a competition format. The best teams from each region travel to NYC to compete in the national finals at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Conditional on an annual grant, winning teams can win awards and a trip to Washington D.C., generously offered by the Moody's Foundation.

The program offers students of global studies, economics, world history/geography or European studies a unique experience that moves them out of the classroom into the real world. The competition requires no previous knowledge of economics.

"There is no other program that enables students to learn, first hand, about international issues like the Euro Challenge." – Libby Nowak, teacher, New York, NY 

Register by October 22 for an expense-paid teacher orientation workshop in Chicago on November 5, 2012. Visit http://www.euc.illinois.edu/eurochallenge/ for more information.


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Monday, September 10, 2012

Career Opportunities in the EU

by Alicia Henry

In which region of the world have United States businesses made the greatest investment? China? Japan? India? Latin America? Africa? Russia? If you answered “no” to all of the above, give yourself a pat on the back. U.S. investment in Europe is sixteen times greater than in China, India, Brazil and Russia combined! The transatlantic economy employs fifteen million people. Within the European Union, U.S. businesses have the potential to reach 500 million consumers in a single market. For the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world, investment flows both ways. (Read more: European Commission web page on EU-US bilateral trade relations.)

Representing U.S. business interests in the European Union is the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU (AmChamEU, http://www.amchameu.eu/), a Brussels-based lobbying organization. EU Center study trip participants learned about the role of AmChamEU in a session that described the close economic ties of the U.S. and the EU. Laws affecting business in the European Union originate in Brussels. It is the goal of the Transatlantic Economic Council to stimulate growth, create jobs and decrease barriers to trade. The EU does not have a tradition of PACs and lobbying is minimal. AmChamEU has over twenty international employees, with only two (one full-time and one part-time) U.S. citizens on staff. The organization requires that personnel be knowledgeable about European business customs in order to advance U.S. business. Language facility must also be a factor in the scarcity of U.S. employees in this office. 

At the same location we had the opportunity to hear from representatives of the State of Illinois West European Office of Trade and Investment. The West European office, one of nine State of Illinois foreign offices worldwide, represents Illinois interests in thirteen countries. Of the eight U.S. states with business offices in Europe, Illinois is the fifth most successful. The Midwest is often overlooked when European companies are looking at U.S. expansion; instead they often opt for the East or West coasts. Although southern U.S. states are appealing because of lower prevailing wages, Illinois has a lot going for it as a potential site. Airport, highway and Mississippi River access provide excellent infrastructure. Contrary to widely held beliefs in the business community, there are no great concerns about taxes in Illinois. 

Photo credit: Todd Gleason
The ultimate in successful Illinois companies, Caterpillar, has its second-largest facility in Gosselies, Belgium, where 4,300 are employed (read more: Caterpillar Belgium Fact Sheet in PDF). Another 10,000 are employed indirectly by suppliers to Caterpillar Belgium. The 98-hectare facility has existed since 1965, exporting 97% of the hydraulic excavators, wheel-loaders, axels, cylinders, gears, and hydraulic valves produced on site. Caterpillar prides itself on remaining profitable and maintaining its two billion dollar yearly investment in research and development, even as the recent worldwide financial crisis forced other firms to scale back. Investment in the Gosselies facility averages €50,000,000 per year. Local managers and a visiting U.S. employee spent time with our group and answered many questions about the facility and its presence in Europe. Follow the link if you are interested in a job with Caterpillar Belgium: http://belgie.cat.com/careers/caterpillar-belgium. Keep in mind that concern about companies relocating to lower-wage regions is not only a fact of life in the U.S. Indeed, workers of the Gosselies plant staged a 24-hour strike in February of 2012 to highlight their concerns about the possibility of a production line moving to Poland.

The EUC study trip provided tremendous background, fascinating contacts and exciting experiences for the participants in our study of the European Union. I look forward to sharing the lessons with my students this year. Thank you to all who made it possible!

Alicia Henry teaches German I-AP at Normal Community West High School in Normal, IL.


This article is one in a series of blog entries authored by teachers who participated in the University of Illinois European Union Center’s 2012 Summer Study Tour: Seeking Sustainable and Secure Connections in Food, Energy, and Governance. The tour to Belgium and Luxembourg was supported by a Getting to Know Europe grant from the European Commission.
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Teacher Development Outside the Conference Room, Outside the Box, indeed, Outside the Country

by Fanny Clonch

This year not only did I attended a meaningful professional development workshop offered by the European Center of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but I was actually given the chance to go to Brussels and visit many of the institutions we talked about during the “Food and Energy Security and Sustainability” four-day workshop.

How often does a Chicago Public School teacher get to stroll the street of Brussels and Luxembourg? Considering that the resources of the Chicago Public School system are limited, not to mention that my own resources are always quite strained, the opportunities to visit foreign lands are all too infrequent.

So away from teachers’ union contract battles, extended-day negotiations, salary increase debates I flew, literally. For a whole week I was able to focus, reflect and plan for the upcoming school year with the invigorating surroundings of a new place, new people and new ideas. I also had a chance to collect tangible teaching aids such as maps, brochures and PowerPoint presentations.

We talked a great deal about how Europe is more advanced in green energy and I noticed it as soon as I entered my hotel room at the Thon Hotel in Brussels, formerly Rainbow Hotel before Olav Thon bought the chain.

The 4 star-hotel is reducing its ecological footprint by managing water usage with dual-flush toilets, by collecting rain water for non-potable use and by managing and reducing the energy that is generated, in part, by maintaining their own solar panels.

It is impossible to turn on a light or to recharge your phone or laptop unless you leave your room key in the slot found near the door. As soon as you leave the room, taking your keycard with you, everything shuts off. Your room key is also very instrumental for using the elevator. Without your room key, you cannot use the elevator and you can only go to your floor or the lobby and other common areas. What a simple yet great tool for energy conservation, which also adds to safety and security.

Villo Bikes
The hotel educates and encourages their guests to reduce water usage even more by giving a five-euro voucher redeemable at the hotel bar or restaurant in exchange for forgoing room cleaning. You could also opt for a Villo pass in lieu of the five-euro voucher. The company is actually J. C. Decaux, the same company whose name you see affixed to bus shelters throughout the city of Chicago. The word “villo” is a contraction of the French word ville meaning city and velo meaning bike. The Villo card allows you to rent a bike at one of the 180 self-serving bike stations located throughout the city. I learned that the construction of these bike stations reduced parking spaces and made some people quite unhappy, while proponents are relishing the reduction of motorized vehicles. Bike sharing stations can be seen in many cities throughout Europe nowadays.

Our schedule was pretty tight and I unfortunately did not get to use the Villo. However, for much of the trip, my fellow travelers and I did make great use of another zero greenhouse gas emission mode of transportation—walking.

Zen Car
Strolling in the direction of the Parc du Cinquantenaire, past the European Commission building, to get a closer look at the Arc Cinquentenaire, I came across another green mode of transportation—the electric car. I had heard about the Autolib electric car-sharing project in Paris, which was launched last year. Like Autolib in Paris, Zen Car in Brussels is a green transportation concept that is completely electric, not a hybrid. This green car is there when needed and it makes sense for many of the politicians who come to Brussels and who are commuters from other European countries. Like bicycle lending services found at most train stations throughout Europe, the electric car can be picked up at the airport and dropped off at one of the central locations in town. Since you have to drop the car at the electrical charging station, you do not need to worry about finding a place to park. If you think that gas prices in the United States have skyrocketed lately, Europeans have it worse. They pay an average of 2 Euros per liter and there are 3.7 liters in a gallon (at the time of writing this blog the exchange rate makes the price of gas in Europe over $9 per gallon). It seems to me that the electric car is a right step in reducing oil dependency and perhaps the most significant means of reducing CO2 emissions.

Now that I am back in Chicago waiting to hear my fate vis-à–vis the negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools, I am very grateful for having been part of the summer study tour to Europe. I wholeheartedly thank Bryan Endres, Matt Rosenstein, Sebnem Ozkan, Kim Rice and Renée Holley for the remarkable work they put into the planning and execution of such an amazing program, bravo! To all my fellow travelers I give many thanks for the camaraderie. 

To learn more about Zen Car: http://www.zencar.eu/en/about_concept.cfm
http://accesstrumpsownership.blogspot.com/2011/02/brussels-welcomes-zen-car-electric.html

Info on Villo: http://en.villo.be/How-does-it-work

Fanny Clonch teaches three different levels of French in the International Baccalaureate program at Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago, Illinois.

This article is one in a series of blog entries authored by teachers who participated in the University of Illinois European Union Center’s 2012 Summer Study Tour: Seeking Sustainable and Secure Connections in Food, Energy, and Governance. The tour to Belgium and Luxembourg was supported by a Getting to Know Europe grant from the European Commission.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Production of Chocolate: A Sweet Social studies Lesson

By Christine La Rue 

Part of the University of Illinois European Union Center’s 2012 Summer Study Tour included a visit to Barry Callebaut in Belgium, which is the largest chocolate factory worldwide. The production begins with the cocoa bean to the finished chocolate product. Our visit began with coffee and a taste of their delicious chocolate. As I sampled their fine chocolate, it reminded me of the many lessons I have done on the history of chocolate, and how it relates to many socials studies areas. Our hosts were enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about their company. Barry Callebaut has "a truly global manufacturing footprint with forty production facilities worldwide."


The European Union is committed to making globalization work for developed and developing countries with transparent and fair trade rules. Barry Callebaut’s managers provided us with many details of their production. This company is a good example of globalization according to the European Union’s standards of fairness. Globalization is extremely important in solving the sovereign debt crisis of the euro zone area because it helps to raise the GDP of the euro area nations.
 

As a teacher of AP World History and AP European History, in addition to lessons on globalization, I also teach about the “Columbian Exchange.” The history of chocolate works especially well here. “The story of how chocolate grew from a local Mesoamerican beverage into a global sweet encompasses many cultures and continents" ("History of Chocolate"). Be sure to end the lesson with a piece of chocolate (European if possible) for each student!

Helpful links:


Barry Callebaut
http://www.barry-callebaut.com/

All About Chocolate
http://archive.fieldmuseum.org/chocolate/about.html


History of Chocolate
http://archive.fieldmuseum.org/chocolate/history.html

The European Union and World Trade
http://ec.europa.eu/publications/booklets/move/37/en.pdf

A Brief History of Chocolate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOKjc-c8PjQ

Christine La Rue teaches AP World History, AP European History and AP Art History at Elgin High School in Elgin, Illinois. She was the supervising teacher of the winning team at the 2012 Euro Challenge Midwest competition, earning Christine and the four students on the team a spot to compete this past April at the semi-finals of the national competition in New York (press release). You can find more teaching resources and accounts of Christine’s international travels on her personal web site.

This article is one in a series of blog entries authored by teachers who participated in the University of Illinois European Union Center’s 2012 Summer Study Tour: Seeking Sustainable and Secure Connections in Food, Energy, and Governance. The tour to Belgium and Luxembourg was supported by a Getting to Know Europe grant from the European Commission.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Barry Callebaut: The Economics of Willy Wonka

by James Garcia

To answer the most pressing question, no, there were no Oompa-Loompas. As a part of the European Union Center 2012 Summer Study Tour to Belgium and Luxembourg, the tour participants toured the Barry Callebaut chocolate factory in Wieze, Belgium.  Barry Callebaut is an industrial chocolate producer, which means that they supply companies with liquid base chocolate, or other bulk chocolate products. Those products are then used by so-called “artisan” chocolatiers or companies which coat their products, such as cookies, baked goods, etc., in the Barry Callebaut chocolate base.

The Barry Callebaut chocolate factory’s whirling belts, robots, kettles, tanks, etc. fascinate most outsiders who tour the facility. What is truly fascinating, however, is how an industrial food company based in Europe can prosper and thrive. Barry Callebaut is currently the largest chocolate producer on the planet, producing somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the world’s chocolate, depending on your figures. Belgium is part of the European Union, which has numerous restrictions on food production, imports, and various input costs for Barry Callebaut chocolate among other producers. The European Union legislation on cocoa and chocolate products alone is 5 pages long and lists numerous restrictions (e.g. a praline must not have less than 25% of its weight as chocolate) and names the nine different types of chocolate designated by the EU. Naturally, it is difficult to understand how a firm can continue to be the world’s largest producer of chocolate in an economically restrictive environment. From an American free-market perspective, any restriction raises input costs for a company, and causes an inefficiency. Thus, it would seem that Barry Callebaut chocolate faces significant disadvantages against a global market full of competitors with fewer restrictions.
 

According to the Barry Callebaut representative who briefed us before our tour of the chocolate factory, Belgian chocolate is not an entirely domestic product. In fact, while most people think of chocolate as a German, Swiss, or Belgian product, the basis for chocolate or the cocoa bean, is a New World native. The cocoa bean was only introduced after the first Transatlantic trade introduced by Columbus and other explorers. Today, the cocoa bean is native to Western Africa, specifically Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Barry Callebaut, therefore must face the scrutiny of high import standards as they cannot successfully grow cocoa bean in an country which receives rain 200 days of the year.
 

What Barry Callebaut lacks in sunshine, it makes up in amazing efficiency. The factory takes in fermented cocoa beans and then outputs liquid or dry final products.  The cultivation, separation, and fermentation are processes which Barry Callebaut has its contracted farmers complete overseas, as those tasks require significant manual labor, a high cost in Europe. When the beans reach Belgium they go through a mostly mechanical process until they reach the last stage as a final product. Barry Callebaut has dealt with the European Union’s stringent standards in a way that increases their efficiency and increases their products’ quality. Because the company uses robots and other non-manual processes, their chocolate comes out pure and at the lowest cost possible.
 

Some tour participants were shocked to see the packing bots operating at such quick speeds without any human assistance. In fact, someone asked, “What happened to the men who used to do this job?” Despite the reality of structural unemployment, Barry Callebaut has solved the problem of European Union regulation by investing into a nearly automated factory. Additionally, Barry Callebaut sacrifices the control of their final product to other firms who specialize in marketing, branding, etc. You won’t find their chocolate in shiny wrappers on the store shelves as its own product. This business strategy has won Barry Callebaut the world’s largest market share of chocolate and significant quality of product.

James Garcia is a teacher at Champaign Centennial High School in Champaign, Illinois. He teaches AP European History and AP Macroeconomics, among other courses. 


This article is one in a series of blog entries authored by teachers who participated in the University of Illinois European Union Center’s 2012 Summer Study Tour: Seeking Sustainable and Secure Connections in Food, Energy, and Governance. The tour to Belgium and Luxembourg was supported by a Getting to Know Europe grant from the European Commission. 
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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Europe's Future Firsthand

by Letitia Zwickert


US news paints a concerning picture of eurozone stability and the future of the European Union. We are often faced with headlines such as: “Can the EU Survive Europe’s Crisis?” , “The European Union is Falling Apart”, and more recently “The Euro Crisis: Back to the Brink”.  From within this environment of concern and uncertainty, a group of teachers, politicians and a journalist ventured out, beyond the US to two European capitals, and the heart of it all: Brussels and Luxembourg. Amidst the eurozone crisis, emergency EU summits, and geopolitical instability, we found ourselves in the center of the largest political and economic challenge of this author’s lifetime. 

During our trip, I kept my eye out for answers to the questions being asked at home: will the eurozone remain intact, will the EU stay together, or will the EU shed its weakest members? The uncertainty left me eager for answers, and in search of the true political climate in the eye of the storm.
Image Source
The EU began as a coal and steel union (European Coal and Steel Community) after the world wars, with the purpose of creating security and prosperity for Europe. Eventually becoming the EU, the heart and soul of the union remained in one place: Brussels. It was fitting, then,  that we began our study tour in the Grand Place in Brussels, a medieval display of European commerce and economic unity. From a thriving 11th century market place transformed into a 14th century architectural marvel by various local guilds, the Grand Place represents the early commercial development of Europe. Today, it is a vibrant area full of tourists enjoying Belgian chocolate, Belgian beer, and the beautiful historic sites, all with thoughts of the future of the EU on their minds.

Image Source
Our trip offered us the opportunity for a better understanding of the EU through a series of presentations at the European Commission.  The study tour happened to coincide with the crucial June EU Summit, which left us all with many questions. One presenter in particular, Jakob Bork, was able to feed our appetite with a stimulating discussion providing answers that had yet to be revealed.  Receiving the scoop about why countries really want to join the EU, what power the Council of Ministers really have, and the real financial issues underlying the current economic concerns, I came away feeling I had just been given an insider’s view of the inner workings of the EU. 

We also visited NATO headquarters the very day Turkey came to NATO requesting to invoke Article 5 by asking for intervention against Syria after an attack on their military planes (Turkish F-4 Warplane ‘Shot Down’).  With all the buildings bustling with this energy, we sat down to listen to two speakers inform us on their views of NATO’s mission and NATO’s place in the world. NATO’s new mission statement (see NATO’s New 10-Year Mission Statement) underscores the goal of EU security.  Given the current economic crisis, NATO has become a central instrument in helping to provide security while alleviating some of the economic burden of a independently, fully funded state defense program.  This cooperation is everything the EU itself stands for: increased interdependence as a means of lasting European peace. And yet, in this economically strained climate, I found myself wondering if the political and social pressures will allow the cooperation to continue?  And, as Europe emerges from this crisis, will the EU have new expectations of NATO?
Image Source

The European Court of Auditors provided another interesting window into understanding the EU. Our presenter, Jussi Bright, laid out ECA’s history and responsibilities as an institution structurally independent of the EU. Each EU budget line item is audited here. Mr. Bright highlighted the financial challenge of a global political entity with 23 official languages. The simple need to print all findings and reports in all the languages makes the need for an increased usage of e-technologies paramount. In regards to the current economic climate, Mr. Bright pointed to the countries themselves: the responsibility of each EU state to have controls in place that to manage their own economies and reinforce healthy fiscal policy. Here we begin to understand the current limits of EU influence over their own members. 

Our study tour took place during an exceptional time in history, and gave us a firsthand view of what the future might hold for the European Union. From the trip emerged a group of individuals who gained an exceptional amount of knowledge about the inner workings and vision of the EU. And like the EU, which will come out of the current crisis more equipped to take on future challenges, we are now better professionals for having had the experience. Thank you EU CENTER!


Letitia Zwickert teaches Cultures of the World and International Relations courses at Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Illinois.

This article is one in a series of blog entries authored by teachers who participated in the University of Illinois European Union Center’s 2012 Summer Study Tour: Seeking Sustainable and Secure Connections in Food, Energy, and Governance. The tour to Belgium and Luxembourg was supported by a Getting to Know Europe grant from the European Commission. 

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Peace and Prosperity: The Underlying Purpose of the European Union

by Chris Bryant



For those currently cynical and skeptical about the European Union, I have some advice: go visit a cemetery from one of the numerous wars fought in Europe. That ought to put things in perspective for you.

It is no secret that the European Union is in crisis. By all accounts, it is extremely serious. We are in “day to day” territory. It is impossible to make predictions about what will happen. Some see catastrophe, others see some minor reforms coming and others see opportunity for meaningful, positive change.

The history is well known: from six countries in the European Coal and Steel Community to further expansion and the eventual Maastricht Treaty leading to a common currency and a union with twenty seven nations, twenty three official languages and a market of more than five hundred million people and twenty per cent of the world’s economic output. It is too big of a market to be ignored and what happens in Europe affects the world economy.


On our recent trip to Belgium and Luxembourg, some of us visited the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. Over five thousand troops are buried there. Included are twenty two sets of brothers and Gen. Patton. Most of the troops were killed in the famous Battle of the Bulge of World War II. You see lines of crosses and stars of David. It is impossible not to be moved.


Such a visit must be a stark reminder to an alternative future for Europe. If nothing else, the European Union has kept the peace among member states. What is the price tag for such an accomplishment? American politicians should lay off the “Europe bashing” and be grateful that we have allies in Europe who have kept the peace and have provided a huge market for our products, as well as share our dedication to democracy and the rule of law. We certainly have our own problems to deal with, but we can at least give moral support in saving an amazing institution of peaceful cooperation.

Chris Bryant is a social studies teacher at Cranbrook Upper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Previously, he taught at Lake Forest High School (Lake Forest, Illinois). Chris has participated in numerous curriculum development activities of the EU Center.

This article is one in a series of blog entries authored by teachers who participated in the University of Illinois European Union Center’s 2012 Summer Study Tour: Seeking Sustainable and Secure Connections in Food, Energy, and Governance. The tour to Belgium and Luxembourg was supported by a Getting to Know Europe grant from the European Commission. 
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From Brussels to Luxembourg; A Gardener's Perspective

by Kristin Aye-Guerrero
As I was scurrying about preparing to make pickles from my cucumbers in the garden, my mind drifts back to Europe. This year’s EU Center summer study tour took us to Brussels and Luxembourg. I would like to thank the EU Center, Illinois Trade Office in Brussels, University of Luxembourg, as well as the EU for this trip. The theme of our visit and four-day work shop before we departed was titled; “Seeking Sustainable and Secure Connections in Food, Energy, and Governance”. I found the topic of agriculture and energy policy fascinating. Our family still farms, and although I live in a suburb of Chicago, I garden to keep close to my roots. I believe there may be a pun in that last statement but it was unintended! One assumes there will always be food here in the states, after all, doesn’t Jewel make it? So to learn about the roots of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and the importance it holds for EU member states in dealing with problems of food supply, plant and animal disease, and sustainability, should serve as a wakeup call to Americans. I am looking forward to sharing with my students the similarities and differences between agricultural policy in the EU and those here at home.

Another revelation was the seriousness that the EU members take regarding the environment and sustainability. In Brussels there are bike rental racks everywhere as well as electric chargers for cars right on the street. You can sense that climate change and conservation are a part of the popular consciousness. Also a preservation of history is also quite evident. Not just from the preservation of Gothic Churches and Baroque buildings.  More than one speaker referenced World War II when discussing the importance of the EU. Moreover, agriculture is their history. As we drove through the countryside, the Romantic notion of pre-industrial life was evident in the free roaming cattle and sweeping fields of grain. As we sat and enjoyed our La Chouffe beer at the Brasserie D’ Achouffe in rural Belgium, I spied a few domestic ducks and geese belonging to the owners.  However, as a naturalist as well as a gardener, I was a bit surprised by the absence of wild animals and birds and even insects. Most of the Ardennes Forest near the brewery has been planted for the timber industry. There were fisheries near the brewery to try and replenish fish for the local stream, which is a good sign. I believe that part of the CAP of the EU that requires a 7% set aside of lands for nature is a positive step for EU member states towards preserving not just their man-made history but all of their history like indigenous plant and animal species. 

In beautiful Luxembourg I had the opportunity to explore a bit, and discovered the community gardens on open lands below castle walls and near train tracks. The gardens were another example of preserving history. The plants growing were cabbages, potatoes, broccoli, and other typical vegetables used in a European kitchen. Alas we only had two days in Luxembourg, a wonderful medieval city.  At the top of this article is a picture of one of the community gardens in Luxembourg. I would love to see these all over the U.S. If you are concerned about food supply and the environment I have two suggestions for you to get more involved:
Kristin Aye-Guerrero teaches AP World History and AP European History at South Elgin High School in Illinois.

This article is one in a series of blog entries authored by teachers who participated in the University of Illinois European Union Center’s 2012 Summer Study Tour: Seeking Sustainable and Secure Connections in Food, Energy, and Governance. The tour to Belgium and Luxembourg was supported by a Getting to Know Europe grant from the European Commission. 

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

European Union Center 2012 Summer Curriculum Development Workshop: Food & Energy Security and Sustainability: A Comparative Look at the European Union and the US


2012 Summer Curriculum Development Workshop

Food & Energy Security and Sustainability:
A Comparative Look at the European Union and the US


Tuesday, June 12 - Friday, June 15, 2012

The University of Illinois and The European Union Center (EUC) invites K-12 and community college educators to take part in this 3 1/2-day workshop to develop a more effective curriculum on energy and food security and sustainability issues and contoversies in Europe and the US. These materials may be incorporated into a variety of courses, such as foreign language, world geography, world cultures, world/US history, politics, economics, and business. While all K-16 teachers are welcome, the curriculum materials are geared mainly towards high school and community college education. The workshop will feature presentations from University of Illinois faculty and other specialists.
SUMMER STUDY TOUR TO EUROPE
This workshop will also serve as an orientation workshop for the Summer Study Tour to Europe (June 23-30, 2012). For further information, please visit the Summer Study Tour 2012 webpage.

Application Deadline for the Study Tour was February 29, 2012.

Pertinent Info

  • Application Deadline: May 7, 2012 (workshop registartion is now closed)
  • Online Registration Registration is now closed!
  • Cost: $100
    Please make checks payable to "University of Illinois." Send your checks to:
    European Union Center
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    328 International Studies Building, MC-429
    910 S. Fifth Street
    Champaign, IL 61820
  • Travel Grants: Travel grants up to $150 are available.
  • Credit: CPDUs (for Illinois teachers) or University of Illinois CEUs for non-Illinois teachers are available. 3-4 University of Illinois graduate credits are available, please contact Sebnem Ozkan at asozkan@illinois.edu, 217-244-0570 for further information.
  • Housing: Housing will be provided at the Illini Tower, a private dorm on campus. We reserved your rooms for 3 nights from June 12 (check-in) to June 15 (check-out).
    * We can provide additional reservations for the nignt of June 11th only if you will be traveling more than 250 miles to attend the conference, due to budgetary restrictions and University policies. Amenities: Please note that you will be sharing a suite with another teacher. The suite is fully furnished and has A/C. It features two separate bedrooms and a shared living room, kitchen and bathroom. Towels, blankets, and sheets are provided, and extras can be obtained at the desk, which is open 24/7. Unfortunately, there are no pots, pans, or utensils stocked in the rooms themselves and hangers are not provided- the EUC will provide paper cups and plates in your rooms. There is a refrigerator in the room but no microwave. There is internet access for free in all rooms (you need to bring an ethernet cable or rent one from the front desk), located behind the desks. The whole first floor is wireless. Local calls are free, and there is a stock of phones at the front desk available to take.
  • Meals: Breakfast and some meals will be provided by the European Union Center. Breakfast is available daily in the Illini Tower cafeteria from 7 – 8 am.
  • Parking: If you requested parking, when you arrive at the Illini Tower, you will check in and receive a parking space inside so that you can park. You might need to park at a meter briefly while you check-in.
  • Contact: For more information contact Sebnem Ozkan asozkan@illinois.edu, 217-244-0570.
  • Funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant and the European Commission's "Getting to Know Europe" grant.

Schedule

Tuesday, June 12

Workshop location: All sessions are held at Illini Tower - THINK Study Lounge on the first floor if not noted otherwise.
Illini Tower
409 E. Chalmers St., Champaign
Web: http://www.illinitower.net
Phone: 217-344-0400
To locate Illini Tower: http://www.campushousing.com/uiit/html/locate_us.php
Workshop location: All sessions are held at Illini Tower - THINK Study Lounge on the first floor if not noted otherwise.
Illini Tower
409 E. Chalmers St., Champaign
Web: http://www.illinitower.net
To locate Illini Tower: http://www.campushousing.com/uiit/html/locate_us.php

8:00am - 4:00pm
Check-in at Illini Tower Location: 409 E. Chalmers St., Champaign
Web: http://www.illinitower.net
Phone: 217-344-0400
To locate Illini Tower: http://www.campushousing.com/uiit/html/locate_us.php
4:15pm
EUC staff will be available at the Illini Tower lobby to escort you to the ACES Library for the workshop registration and keynote address/dinner.
4:30 – 5:30pm
Workshop Registration, Introduction & Meet and GreetLocation: ACES Library (Heritage Room), 1101 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana
5:30 – 7:00pm
Keynote Address: "Urban Food Systems: Sustainability, Public Policy, and Social Inequality"
Keynote Speaker: Dorceta Taylor, Professor and Environmental Justice Field of Studies Coordinator, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan
Welcoming remarks and introduction: A. Bryan Endres, Director, European Union Center; Associate Professor of Agricultural Law, University of Illinois
Location: ACES Library (Heritage Room), 1101 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana
6:30pm
Welcome Dinner
Location: ACES Library (Heritage Room), 1101 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana
EUC staff will escort you back to the Illini Tower after dinner.

Wednesday, June 13

Workshop location: All sessions are held at Illini Tower - THINK Study Lounge on the first floor if not noted otherwise.
Illini Tower
409 E. Chalmers St., Champaign
Web: http://www.illinitower.net
To locate Illini Tower: http://www.campushousing.com/uiit/html/locate_us.php
7:00 – 8:00am
Breakfast (provided) – Breakfast is available daily from 7–8 am in the Illini Tower Cafeteria. Please simply show the cashier your nametag.
8:30 – 10:00am
“Understanding the EU and EU Institutions: A brief overview” (presentation)
Speaker: Kostas Kourtikakis, Research Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois
10:00 – 10:15am
Break – coffee, tea, and light refreshments provided
10:15 – 11:45am
“Food Sustainability in the EU” (presentation)
Speaker: Bernd van der Meulen, Professor of Law and Governance, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
11:45am – 1:15pm
Lunch (provided) and "Curriculum Resources and Using the Web & Images for Teaching the EU” (presentation)
Speaker: Adam Heinz, EUC Graduate Assistant and MA Student in EU Studies, University of Illinois
1:15 – 2:45pm
“The Impact of Climate Change on Food Security” (presentation)
Speaker: Lisa Ainsworth, Assistant Professor of Plant Biology and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois
2:45 – 3:00pm
Break coffee, tea, and light refreshments provided
3:00 – 4:30pm
“The Farm Bill and Common Agricultural Policy” (presentation - Note: This video is an earlier version of the presentation, as delivered by Professor Bullock for the EUC's lecture series.)
Speaker: David Bullock, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois
4:30 – 7:00pm
Free time and dinner (on your own)
7:00 – 9:00pm
Movie "Fresh" and post-screening discussion led by A. Bryan Endres, Director, European Union Center; Associate Professor of Agricultural Law, University of Illinois

Thursday, June 14

Workshop location: All sessions are held at Illini Tower - THINK Study Lounge on the first floor if not noted otherwise.
Illini Tower
409 E. Chalmers St., Champaign
Web: http://www.illinitower.net
To locate Illini Tower: http://www.campushousing.com/uiit/html/locate_us.php
7:00 – 8:00am
Breakfast - (provided) – Breakfast is available daily from 7–8 am in the Illini Tower Cafeteria. Please simply show the cashier your nametag.
8:30 – 10:00am
"Animal Welfare: Food or Friend: EU and US Perspectives" (presentation)
Speaker: Jim Pettigrew, Professor of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois
10:00 – 10:15am
Break – coffee, tea, and light refreshments provided
10:15 – 11:45am
“US and EU Environmental Policies” (presentation)
Speaker: Robert Pahre, Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois
11:45am – 1:15pm
Lunch (provided) and “EU-Turkey Energy Partnership” (presentation)
Speaker: Lauren Turk, MA Student in EU Studies-- Graduate, University of Illinois
1:15 – 2:45pm
“EU Bioenergy Policy: An Introduction and Ensuring Environmental and Social Sustainability” (presentation)
Speaker: Jody Endres, Assistant Professor of Environmental, Natural Resources and Energy Law, University of Illinois
2:45 – 3:30pm
Break – coffee, tea, and light refreshments provided
3:30 – 5:00pm
“Challenges in Creating Sustainable Transport Systems” (presentation)
Speaker: Julie Cidell, Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Illinois
5:00 – 5:15pm
Break
5:15 – 6:45pm
Approaches to Spent Nuclear Fuel in Europe and the US” (presentation)
Speaker: Cliff Singer, Professor of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, University of Illinois
7:30 – 9:30pm
Dinner (provided) and the University of Illinois College of ACES (Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences) IBIP (International Business Immersion Program), including short films by IBIP students and presentation by Jessa Barnard, Experiential Learning Coordinator, College of ACES, University of Illinois (presentation)

Friday, June 15

Workshop location: All sessions are held at Illini Tower - THINK Study Lounge on the first floor if not noted otherwise.
Illini Tower
409 E. Chalmers St., Champaign
Web: http://www.illinitower.net
To locate Illini Tower: http://www.campushousing.com/uiit/html/locate_us.php
7:00 – 8:00am
Please check out of Illini Tower and return parking key. You will not need your parking key to leave the garage -- garage doors are operated by censors.
Breakfast - (provided) – Breakfast is available daily from 7–8 am in the Illini Tower Cafeteria. Please simply show the cashier your nametag.
8:00am
Meet at the lobby of Illini Tower and drive to the Prairie Fruit Farm and Creamery -- transportation will be provided.
8:15 – 10:00am
“Visit to the Prairie Fruit Farm and Creamery
Location: 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign
Tour guides: Wesley Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband (farm owners)
10:00 – 10:15am
Drive back to the Illini Tower and Break
10:15 – 11:15am
“2012 Farm Bill, School Nutrition & Farm-to-School Programs” (presentation)
Speaker: Julia Govis, Urban and Small-scale Organic Agriculture Research Institute, University of Chicago; State Lead for Illinois, National Farm to School Network
11:15am – 12:15pm
“Food Policy Councils: Their Role(s) and Transformative Potential” (presentation)
Speaker: Michaela Tarr, Graduate Student at the Michigan State University
12:15 – 2:15pm
Lunch (provided), Group Discussion on “Teaching food and energy security in the classroom”, Evaluation, CPDU/CEU distribution, and Final wrap-up
2:15 – 3:45pm
“Study Tour to Europe” orientation and information session (for tour participants)
*Required for teachers/students who are going on the “Study Tour to Europe”
The workshop is approved for 25 CPDUs/2.5 CEUs.

Background Readings

Wednesday, June 13

"Understanding the EU and EU Institutions: A Brief Overview" - Kostas Kourtikakis
  • eufocus: Understanding the European Union
  • The European Union: A Guide for Americans – Ch. 1 & 2
  • Desmond Dinan. “Ever Closer Union: An Introduction to European Integration” (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 4th Edition, 2010) (optional, for more details)
"Food Sustainability in the EU" - Bernd van der Meulen
"The Impact of Climate Change on Food Security" - Lisa Ainsworth
"The Farm Bill and Common Agricultural Policy" - David Bullock

Thursday, June 14

"Animal Wellfare: Food or Friend: EU and US Perspectives" - Jim Pettigrew
"US and EU Environmental Policies" - Robert Pahre
"EU Bioenergy Policy: An Introduction and Ensuring Environmental and Social Sustainability" - Jody Endres
Challenges in creating sustainable transport systems" - Julie Cidell
"Approaches to Spent Nuclear Fuel in Europe and the US" - Clifford Singer

Friday, June 15

"2012 Farm Bill, School Nutrition & Form-to-School Programs" - Julia Govis

Other Related Resources


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Monday, June 18, 2012

Curriculum Development Workshop visits Local Farm


On June 15, members of the EUC staff and attendees of the 2012 Summer Curriculum Development Workshop visited the Prairie Fruit Farm and Creamery, a farm located in Champaign, IL. This visit was part of the workshop's theme, "Food and Energy Security and Sustainability."

Check out a photo album of the visit here.
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Transatlantic Educators Dialogue helps European and American educators connect



The Transatlantic Educators Dialogue (TED) is an EUC sponsored event connecting educators in the US and the EU. The College of Education recently published an article about TED. Check out the article below or by clicking here.


An educator from east-central Illinois wouldn't ordinarily have the opportunity to discuss a riveting educational issue with a peer over coffee, at least not a peer from Denmark or Poland, for instance. And they probably wouldn't be able to discuss how immigration affects classroom dynamics in the European Union versus the U.S. or whether sharing artwork of a nude would raise parental eyebrows at the local school board meeting. (What's considered pornography in America is considered art and perfectly acceptable in some European countries.)

Bring to the scene a computer with internet, a cup of coffee (optional), and Transatlantic Educators Dialogue (TED), and voila, you have the perfect setting for some really good educational dialogue with an international flair.

TED provides an opportunity for educators to connect with colleagues in other countries to share their opinions, openly discuss their views, and learn from each other. The weekly sessions are led by TED participants on a rotating basis, and discussions focus on current educational issues. In addition to what they learn during the weekly discussions, the leaders in charge of each session prepare 30-minute lesson plans based on their respective week's content and share these at the last session of the Dialogue.

Lucinda Morgan, a Ph.D. student in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership who works in the College of Education's Office of International Programs, has coordinated TED since its creation in the fall of 2009. Using Moodle asychronically throughout the week prior to the TED session, participants share articles and videos, post comments on topic-specific forums, and send messages to fellow dialoguers.

Sponsored by the European Union Center (EUC) in the International Programs and Studies office on campus and co-facilitated by the College of Education, the EUC recruits the European participants for the Dialogue and Morgan recruits U.S. educators through College of Education networks. There is a brief application process to ensure a wide array of demographic representation. In addition to participants in the United States, around 20 European countries are typically represented during each TED session.

The Dialogue currently underway started mid-February and meets weekly on Sundays for 90 minutes synchronously at noon U.S. CT/5 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time. It will wrap up May 6. TED received 188 applications and out of those applicants, 65 educators were accepted. From the 65 individuals accepted, two groups were formed.

Upon successfully completing TED, U.S. educators receive six ISBE-approved continuing education units. Participation in the Dialogue is free of charge. Participants may be current teachers, pre-service teacher education students, school administrators, graduate students, college faculty, or involved in educational organizations.

While two to three European educators apply per available TED slot, U.S. applicants don’t come forth quite as readily, according to Morgan. Consequently, more U.S. educators are encouraged to apply in the future. The next TED will be offered in the spring of 2013.

Morgan said feedback about the program has been positive. "Teachers across the world face many of the same types of issues, but in different contexts. Through TED, they can discuss how different issues affect them locally, such as ESL concerns in the U.S. and varying language dialects in Europe, and it connects them globally," Morgan explained. "Not all teachers have the opportunity to talk to teachers in other countries or to teach there, so TED gives them the platform to share and compare contemporary classroom issues."

Along with geographical differences, the age of participants also varies. While some educators are 25 years old, others have taught for 45 years, according to Morgan, which helps to bring a variety of perspectives to the virtual table.

For more information about Transatlantic Educators Dialogue and about future sessions, contact Lucinda Morgan at lmorgan4@illinois.edu or 217-244-3581

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Record Entries for University of Illinois EU Center Essay Contest

February 28, 2012
Record Entries for University of Illinois EU Center Essay Contest

This year 27 high school students from across the United States participated in an essay contest
sponsored by the University of Illinois EU Center. This annual event is an opportunity for
high-achieving high school students to showcase their knowledge on EU-US relations. This
year’s topic was “The United States and the European Union: Seeking Sustainable and Secure
Connections in Food, Energy & Governance,” which also serves as the theme for the EU
Center’s Summer Study Tour for K-12 educators and local officials.

The EU Center received a record number of entries from Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arizona,
Virginia and Michigan. High school teachers covering a range of subjects—including French,
Spanish, History, Environmental Science, English, Geography, Computer Literacy, and
Government & Politics—supervised students’ participation in the contest.

The annual essay contest is one way the EU Center promotes learning and curriculum building
on the European Union. A second is the Center’s annual summer study tour with educators,
elected officials and journalists. The European Commission’s Getting to Know Europe Grant
funds this year’s Study Tour and the anticipated trip dates are June 23-30. 8-9 Illinois educators
will be a part of the study tour, with one of those spots reserved for the respective teacher of the
first place student from the essay contest.

The EU Center congratulates the following students selected by a review panel as the winners:

First place: Anya Marchenko, Naperville Central High School, for her essay The
Other Side of the Pond. Anya earned a $500 cash prize and her teacher, Ignacio
Gamboa, will participate in the EUC's Summer 2012 Study Tour this June.

Second place: Lara Orlandic, University Laboratory High School (Urbana, IL)
for her essay Accessibility vs. Advancement: The Differences in Healthcare and
Education between the United States and the European Union. Lara earned a
$250 cash prize.

Third place: Thomas Hassiepen, Peoria Notre Dame High School for his essay
Common Problems Create Common Solutions. Thomas earned a $150 cash prize.

The winning essays can be found on the EU Center’s website at http://www.euc.illinois.edu/essaycontest2011/. The winning students, their families and teachers have been invited to the EU Center’s EU Day Luncheon on March 29, 2012, where an award ceremony will be held.

The annual EU Day (this year held on March 29) is the EU Center’s signature event.
EU Ambassador to the US, His Excellency João Vale de Almeida, will be delivering the
keynote “State of the European Union” address. The Ambassador’s 10:00 am address will be
held at the University of Illinois Alice Campbell Alumni Center (601 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana,
IL) and is open to the public.

The EU Center is always looking to connect with more K-12 schools and educators and the
center invites your school and students to participate in future events. Please check the EU
Center website http://www.euc.illinois.edu this coming fall for details on the 2012 Essay
Contest.

Contact: University of Illinois European Union Center, eucenter@illinois.edu
328 International Studies Building, 910 S. Fifth Street, Champaign, IL 61820
Ph: (217) 265-7515
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