Editor's note: London-based OneEurope author Rob Heslop has talked to the Vice-President of the European Society at King's College London about the ambitious plans of the organisation and their long term aspiration to help forge a common European identity among its members.
Recently Ivan and I had the pleasure of interviewing Chloé Amellal, a first year European Studies student and the incoming Vice-President of King’s College London European Society. We took the opportunity to discuss Chloé’s reasons for joining, the achievements of the society and her hopes and aspirations for the long term development of the organisation.
It became clear throughout the interview that the raison d'être for the KCL European Society is to provide a melting pot for all Europeans and anyone interested in Europe to come together, have fun and learn more about Europe. Combining politics, history and culture the aim is to forge a new common European identity that will build on the members national identities.
In our conversations Chloé told us of her strong belief that the European Society should play a central role for Student's lives during their time at King's College London. Using her own experiences of moving to London from continental Europe, Chloe wants the society to be a place of support for what can sometimes be a daunting and challenging experience. The European Society is there to create a positive welcoming environment for members to make new friends, expand their learning of other European cultures and be introduced to London life.
This aim is something that should be applauded, far too often new university students get 'lost' and end up isolated from the wider student community, this is particularly true of larger London universities. Chloé has a vision of how to achieve her aims of helping students avoid this next year. Much of her initial focus will be centred on organising social events in the first few weeks to sign up first year members to create a strong new social group. With foreign students always eager to make new friends I am very confident that with her teams support, Chloé's ambition will be easily realised.
Chloé’s second aim is to increase the reach and influence of the society; she envisages a scenario where the KCL Society could coordinate with the UCL and LSE societies to create social events, hold conferences and exchange ideas on European Society. The idea is to create a ' London family' which is more collaborative and thus more effective in achieving their joint aims of creating a feeling of inclusiveness, whilst raising awareness of European affairs.
Not only is the European Society a place to socialise and settle into London life, it plays an important role in promoting debate on current European issues. Previous committees have run very successful European Weeks where they invited expert speakers to debate on set topics. These events are of paramount importance to ensure that there is an awareness of European issues and people's initial conceptions about these topics are being challenged. With the UK's EU referendum fast approaching, this is more important than ever. An open and reasonable debate on the UK's membership of the EU is needed and I am confident that the KCL European Society will contribute strongly by organising debates that ensure that these two key criterias are being met.
Towards the end of our time together Chloé and I were describing how our experiences in other European cities make us feel more European and help us to develop identities that build on our individual national identities. Chloé wants the society to be a forum to discuss how students can develop an identity that means that wherever they travel in the Union, they will feel at home. She went onto say how she wants the European Society at KCL to act as an area where young Europeans will be able to discuss the type of Europe, and world, they want to live in. After all, it was Monnet that was reported as saying 'if we had to begin all over again, we would start with culture'.
Its groups like the KCL European Society and similar ones throughout the EU that are fulfilling Monnet's desire. So, if you are at KCL or joining KCL next year then Ivan and I would highly recommend joining this exciting, expanding and welcoming society. You will have a great time, meet amazing people and be introduced into the exciting world of London student life.