The recruitment of the 2020 Fall Cohort of the European Leadership Programme has been successful. We received more applications than any time before and the number of Fellows will further increase. It means that the young people were ready to move to Brussels against all odds: despite the corona-crisis, even if Belgium is scoring quite high in infection proportions. In spite of the fact that most EU institutions – and NGOs – did not take as many trainees as before. Even those trainees who are going to be employed, they might work remotely several days a week, lacking the classical networking and meeting elements so core to the Brussels experience. These are deeply discouraging circumstances.
#COVID is challenging the inter-generational attitudes in many ways. Unemployment is going to soar further, pushing the income gap wider. Digitalization is rewriting our social institutions, according to the rules of global corporations, in a time when governments have even less focus on regulation of the online space and online services. Polarization hits each week a new high, with lethal conspiracy theories, such as those against mask-wearing or the anti-vaccination campaigns. Small wonder that new, fresh and credible voices are needed in the public space for the common good. In another perspective, one may say that such turmoil is a fertile ground to raise the leaders of tomorrow.
The European Leadership Programme will need to sustain its activities in this environment. Our goal is to be able to bring these young future leaders to Brussels and offer them such a Jesuit formation which will then result as a compass for orientation in this defiant context we live in today. We will be working hard to get the most inspiring testimonies for the Fellows, to let them enter coaching and accompaniment to bring about conversions. Hope is that Fellows will come to the Graduation once they took the time to discern more their vocation.
To bring this forward, ELP Staff will need to rely on partners, alumni and volunteers, just as it has done so far, even more in the future.
JESC ELP Manager & Secretary for Leadership