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"Initiatives like GFYL unite us within Europe, connect us with our neighbours and build a spiri

Julia is one of the latest additions to the German-French Young Leaders org team and is based in the French capital. Originally from Cologne, Julia speaks French with hardly any accent contributing perfectly to her Germano-French-European personality. Living in the ville de lumière, Julia supports the team from the Paris-side with anything involving speakers, formats and content for the 2018 edition of the GFYL Conference that will take place in the French capital in May. Besides working on the future of German and French young leaders, she is also a futurist in her everyday job at the Foresight Unit of the OECD.

Julia, what potential did you see in GFYL that made you want to join?

GFYL gives us the chance as a team to shape our world of tomorrow together with inspiring personalities. It’s exciting to discuss new ideas and topics with a group of committed young people who want to make a difference! I also see the importance of initiatives like the German-French Young Leaders Programme because they unite us within Europe, connect us with our neighbours and build a spirit of responsible leadership that goes beyond national interests! My hopes for GFYL 2018 are that we will spend days full of inspiration and collectively discuss visions full of opportunities for the future of Europe and beyond!

Have you been involved in German, French or German-French projects before?

I learned a lot about cultural differences between Germany and France as class representative of my binational degree. Did you know for example that the German educational system understands a student as a growing plant whereas the French see him or her more as a bucket that must be filled with knowledge?

What does the German-French friendship mean to you and for Europe?

I have always had a thing for French culture and people. Not only Comté, Camembert and Cantal make me love my neighbours, but also the French way of celebrating life, beauty and pleasure on a daily basis. As for the German-French friendship, it is an important foundation of European cooperation – building on history and common values. This may sound old-fashioned but in an increasingly fragmented world of rapid change I believe it to be more important than ever to stick together within our region.

Has the German-French friendship influenced you in any way?

I would never dare to cut a Camembert in parallel slices!

Can you think of a situation that made you feel like a real European?

I mostly feel European when leaving my own continent when I lived in India, Canada or Columbia. I suddenly realised how much cultural, culinary and geographical variety exists on our rather small continent. I wasn’t aware how privileged I was to be born in the context of the European integration which is one of the most exciting projects for peace ever realised.

What three words describe Europe to you the best?

Diverse, ageing, fortunate.

As a German living in France, what do you consider yourself? A German converted French or even European?

I’m probably a mix of all three – or would even go a step further and say I’m a ‘citizen of the world’: I combine German directness, French love for savoir vivre and sometimes throw in a little latino approach to punctuality.

Last but not least, what other European or French-German initiatives should the world know of?

Definitely the Franco-German University, also called Deutsch-Französische Hochschule or Université franco-allemande. It is made up of a network of more than 180 affiliated French and German higher education establishments created with the objective to increase co-operation between France and Germany in the field of higher education. There are plenty of dual degree programmes between Germany and France and a number of exciting scholarship opportunities.

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