"Dispatches from Europe" Blog Contest

Are you planning on traveleling to the European Union this summer? Submit a post to be featured on our Across the Pond blog and win prizes!

Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Blogs

The third Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic class traveled to the Arctic Circle in summer 2014. Check out their blog entries from this summer!

Ringing the Bells at the Banner of Peace

Landscape Architecture Doctoral candidate Caroline Wisler reflects on her travels to Bulgaria.

Zach Grotovsky's Summer 2013: 14 Cities, 15 Weeks, One Long Adventure

University of Illinois graduate student in Germanic Literatures and Languages Zach Grotovsky documents his travels throughout Eastern Europe in the summer of 2013.

Polar Bears

The Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic class spotted polar bears in Norway!

Peaceful Opposition in Izmir

MAEUS student Levi Armlovich describes his experiences with the protests in Izmir, Turkey.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Young Translators of European Languages Unite: DGT Goes West

by Anna Holmén
Dr. Elizabeth Lowe, Director of the Center for Translation Studies, addresses high school students and teachers at the Illinois Translation Competition capstone program, held on the campus of the University of Illinois, November 4, 2011.
Sometimes when you open your mailbox in the morning you find something that really cheers you up. That definitely was the case for the Juvenes Translatores team when we got a letter of invitation from the University of Illinois. ‘Request for assistance,’ it said. ‘Speaker from the Directorate-General for Translation [DGT] for the "Illinois Translation Competition" awards luncheon’.
The Illinois High School Translation Competition, to give it its full name, turned out to be a school contest modelled on DGT's Juvenes Translatores translation competition for secondary schools. The University of Illinois has a European Union Center, established in 1998, as well as a Center for Translation Studies, which started up only three years ago. So when they heard of Juvenes Translatores, our American colleagues decided to pick up the ball and run with it.
They say that everything is bigger and better in America, but for this first round of Juvenes Translatores the US version covered only high schools in the State of Illinois, with a maximum entry of 25, and the rules were less strict than ours. The texts they used were the ones written by DGT colleagues for JT 2010 on Erasmus. The teachers were free to organise the test any time in August or September, and it was the teachers too who picked the winners.
Just as in the original EU version, the pupils were free to choose the source language from any of the official EU languages, but the target language was only English. The young winners who were invited to Urbana-Champaign, which is where the University of Illinois is situated, translated from Spanish, French, German, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Polish and Italian.
I was the lucky one to make the trip across the pond and into the prairies to attend the award ceremony on 4 November 2011. The University of Illinois were generous enough to pay for all my expenses, and what they asked in return was for me to hold a presentation and in general act like a genuine translator from the European Commission.
For the presentation I decided to give the teachers and high-school students some fairly basic facts about the EU and its language regime. I followed it up with a few words about the founding fathers and the Coal and Steel Community, then the first four languages, all the subsequent accessions, and of course Regulation No 1/58 and the daily work of DGT.
I also had some useful exchanges with the staff of the Center for Translation Studies, who are planning to visit DGT with their pupils in May. Dr. Elizabeth Lowe, the director of the Center, is interested in attending a future European Master’s in Translation conference. What is clear is that DGT, as the largest public translation organisation in the world, is seen as a centre of excellence for translation by our friends in the west, as well as in other parts of the world.

Anna Holmén is coordinator of the annual ”Juvenes Translatores” competition, which is designed to reward the best young translators in the European Union. Juvenes Translatores is organized by Unit S.3. Multilingualism and Translation Studies, part of the Directorate-General for Translation for the European Commission.

Note: a version of this article originally appeared in DGT Monthly, the internal magazine of the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission.


Croatia's Hard-Fought European Moment

by Richelle Bernazzoli

Ne hvala (No thanks).” Photo taken by Maximilian Geise October 15, 2011 at Zagreb’s “Occupy” protest on Ban Josip Jelačić Square

2011 has been a big year for Croatia—the small, Adriatic country that has, in the course of twenty years, transitioned from a constituent socialist republic in the former Yugoslavia to a free market democracy, NATO member, and candidate for the European Union. Along the way, the country was devastated by the wars of Yugoslav succession, which occurred from 1991 to 1995 and were followed by a lengthy and difficult process of reconstruction, reconciliation, and prosecution of crimes committed during the hostilities. On December 9th, 2011, however, the Republic of Croatia took a decisive step in a new direction by signing a treaty to become the 28th member of the European Union in 2013. This was only five days after dramatic parliamentary elections decisively ousted the center-right Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ (which has been dogged by corruption investigations), in favor of the progressive coalition Kukuriku (“cock-a-doodle-doo”) led by the Social Democratic Party.

But if it sounds like twenty years is a relatively short amount of time for these processes of transition, conflict, recovery, and accession to bring Croatia to the EU’s doorstep, try telling that to someone here. You would likely be informed in no uncertain terms that this moment should actually have arrived several years ago—perhaps in 2004, when Slovenia entered the Union, and surely by 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria officially became members. A common theme that arises in my interviews with Croatian citizens is that of “deserving.” Croatia, many of my interlocutors tell me, “deserves” EU membership after decades of struggle and suffering. In this narrative, the Homeland War (as the Croatian war of the 1990s is commonly called amongst Croats) is the latest in a succession of perils faced by the Croatian nation in defense of European civilization—dating all the way back to when Croatia’s Vojna Krajina or ‘military frontier’ was the buffer between the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires.

But it is not only a rightist or nationalist contingent invoking the idea of Croatia as the ‘ramparts of Western Christianity’ that views recent history in this way. One of the progressive NGOs whom I have engaged in my project—a peace studies center focusing on non-discrimination and non-violence education—recently produced a volume of human security recommendations for the European Union based on Croatia’s war and post-war recovery experience. In other words, the same difficult aspects of Croatia’s history have been spun and deployed in various ways and by various interests in the European integration process.

While all of this points to broad support for EU membership across the political spectrum and among various contingents within Croatian society, this does not mean that the entry date is approaching uncontested. The recent elections and “Occupy” movement have brought significant anti-EU demonstration to the fore, as the photograph above demonstrates. The continuing news from Brussels, of course, is not comforting in an economy which has been extremely slow to pull out of the recession and which has posted double-digit unemployment numbers for several years. A number of outspoken critics of European integration assert that entry into the EU will exacerbate Croatia’s economic and financial woes. Yet most of my study participants seem resigned: for Croatia, they say, “nema alternativa (there is no alternative)” to a European future. To join the club may bring trouble—but the consequences would be far worse if we remain out in the cold.

As the January 22 referendum on EU membership approaches, the dialogue in Croatian society is sharpening. Many television channels continue to broadcast pro-EU commercials, and politicians continue to impress upon the public the imperative of a positive referendum. In more nuanced tones, the prominent NGO GONG is calling for Croatian society to view the referendum not as a “necessary evil,” as they claim the political elite has presented it, but rather a crucial opportunity for open and honest dialogue about society’s needs and interests. We will soon hear the public’s verdict on EU membership. Regardless of the result, my colleagues and friends here in Zagreb are sure of one thing: Croatia’s multi-faceted transition will continue well beyond any concrete date of entry into “the club.”

Richelle Bernazzoli is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a 2011- 2012 Fulbright fellow with the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. Her research investigates the links between security, identity, the state, and civil society in Croatia’s Euro-Atlantic integration process. She has previously held Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian from the European Union Center (EUC) and has worked as a graduate assistant for the EUC as well as for the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Across the Cornfields – Holiday Edition

by Reneé Gordon Holley

As we all prepare for our respective holiday traditions, it is difficult to escape the festive decorations and flickering shop windows. Even in little Champaign-Urbana, our city streets are adorned with wreaths, lights, and trees. For me, however, a new crucial holiday tradition involves traveling to Chicago each December to take in more of the big city treats.
In addition to the fine shopping and dining spaces in Chicago, anyone taking a Christmas trip to the Windy City should pay a special visit to the annual Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop. Since 1996, the market has been attracting thousands of visitors each year. Chicago’s market is an initiative of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, and its original visionaries conceptualized the Midwest version of the German tradition based on the Christmas market in Nuremberg, circa 1545. For a quick introduction to the German Christmas traditions, including the Christkind, the Nuremberg market, and others, watch this video, hosted by European Travel Guru Rick Steves:

The Chicago Christkindlmarket includes vendors from Germany, in addition to some from the United States, Ireland, Poland, the Ukraine, and Austria. This is a one stop shop for hand-carved Christmas tree ornaments, traditional crafts from Germany, like votive houses, painted glass, and coo-coo clocks, or recordings of German Christmas music.

Alternatively, the market provides an ideal mid-day and early evening stop for a quick meal and festive drink. In addition to several German bratwurst options, the Christkindlmarket boasts German holiday favorites like spiced nuts, baked apples, pancakes, potato salad, chocolate-covered everything, strudels, traditional German Stollen cake, sauerkraut, hot soups, and potato pancakes.

To warm up, visitors enjoy hot chocolate, spiced cider, and, my personal favorite, Glühwein, German hot spiced wine. This brew features flavors of oranges, cinnamon, and cloves, infiltrating the steaming cup of red wine. Consumers of these hot beverages invest in a bit of Chicago market lore; each year the market features newly-designed mugs, shaped like boots and decorated with scenes from the market, Daley Plaza, and Chicago.

To aid in your own holiday selections, below is a list of other German-inspired Christmas markets in the United States. If you are unable to visit one of these fine establishments this year, try out some Glühwein in your own kitchen with the recipe listed below!
Glühwein – Adapted from allrecipes.com 
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 orange
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle (cheap) red wine
  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer.
  2. Cut the orange in half, and squeeze the juice into the simmering water over a juice strainer. Push the cloves into the outside of the orange peel, and place peel in the simmering water. Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy.
  3. Pour in the wine, and heat until steaming but not simmering. Remove the clove-studded orange halves. Serve hot in mugs or glasses that have been preheated in warm water (cold glasses may break.)
Makes six 4 oz. servings. I usually buy boxed wine and double or triple the recipe.

Happy Holidays to all our EUC Blog readers!

Reneé Holley is a PhD Candidate in Musicology and an EU Center Graduate Assistant. She is working on a dissertation that addresses the influence of EU cultural policies on contemporary German musical life.