It’s ‘Your World’!

Young, vibrant and multicultural, Rotterdam is celebrating its heritage as the first-ever European Youth Capital. Just a short train ride from Delft, Rotterdam is where many TU Delft international students head for shopping and nightlife, and increasingly to live.

This year the city has even more to offer young people than ever before, as Rotterdam serves as the first-ever European Youth Capital. The city is bursting with special events, from festivals and sports to activities focusing on health, education and professional networking.

The idea to make Rotterdam the first European Youth Capital stems from the fact that it’s a very young city, with nearly a third of the city’s residents under the age of 27, making Rotterdam’s population the youngest of all municipalities in the Netherlands.

Rotterdam allocated 60 million euro for this project, whose theme is: ‘Your World’. The project’s chairman, Steven van Eijck, a former Dutch government deputy-minister of finance and a Rotterdam resident, was responsible for coordinating the 2009 European Youth Capital activities: “For Rotterdam and the Netherlands, 2009 is a mega-experiment that turns the usual way of doing things on its head: it’s young people – not adults – who are responsible for organising the programme. That Rotterdam is such a young city in terms of population age, with 174 different nationalities residing within the city limits, doesn’t result in problems, but rather in opportunities.”

The project aims to discover what young people think their city should be like. What kind of activities, opportunities and assistance do they require? Taking care of the youth seems like the safest way of taking care of the future, and this essentially is what the project is about: young people contributing to society by taking the initiative, promoting their creativity and skills, and evolving and upgrading their living environment.

The 2009 European Youth Capital agenda is organized around six main themes. Arts, Cultures & Lifestyle, for showcasing local talents. Sports, including events like the Neighborhood Football Championship and European Judo Championship. Education & Apprenticeships, to help young people find educational courses and traineeships. Jobs & Entrepreneurship, supporting entrepreneurial start-ups. Housing & Living Environment, to create suitable environments for recreational and social activities. And Identity & Meeting of Minds, for encouraging intercommunication among young people of various backgrounds, with this theme’s top event being the ‘Night of the Churches’, when different religions come together for one night.

Rotterdam’s European Youth Capital events run until the end of 2009. Some must-see, upcoming events include ‘MoveMasterz’, a challenging dance contest open to all kinds of dancers – solo or group, jazz or break-dance – that began in neighborhoods around the country and will end with the best dancers qualifying for national finals in Rotterdam.

Various arts and culture workshops will be held in November and December, including ‘Cross Over Music’, a musical instrument workshops for beginners. But perhaps the most sparkling upcoming event is on New Year’s Eve, when Rotterdam hands over its title as European Youth Capital to the next host city – Turin, Italy. The closing festivities will run all day, culminating with the final countdown in Rotterdam center at midnight. 


“Ik maak me wel zorgen over de toekomst. Ik ben bang dat het moeilijk is om een baan te vinden in China. Ik zit nu in mijn eerste jaar en ik hoop dat de crisis over is als ik klaar ben. Ik wil graag in Nederland blijven, maar ik weet niet of dat makkelijk is. Als ik hier maar een baan vind, want dan is het in China ook makkelijker om later een baan te krijgen.”

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