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Here you can find the first testimonials of some of the interns/volunteers who have collaborated with Active Citizenship Network throughout the years in the framework of the “Active for Young Professionals” multiannual educational and training program.

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Student in political sciences, interested in the changes in the expressions of "traditional" democracy, thanks to the experience at ACN, I was able to begin the study of a nascent European phenomenon to go back in subsequent years to its origins. A speaker and events manager, I nowadays work for the European Parliament at the Maison Jean Monnet in Paris, which is part of the House of European History in Brussels.
My research has focused on "horizontal Europeanization", i.e. the active participation of citizens in transnational political debate; a prerequisite for the formation of a European public sphere.
The period of volunteering at Cittadinanzattiva allowed me to analyze the case-study discussed in my thesis: the action of European civil societies in an area historically the prerogative of nation-states, but at the same time extremely universal, such as health and the protection of patients' rights. It was a real initiation into the universe gravitating around the EU, its concrete functioning, its terminology and its actors.
It was the first work experience related to my studies and allowed me to acquire transversal skills essential for my future professional integration. In a Rome characterized by the hot sun of the summer months, I keep a wonderful memory also for the exceptional human encounters, particularly formative, with the members of the Cittadinanzattiva team.

Debora

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I started my experience at Cittadinanzattiva - Active Citizenship Network in March 2020, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. This situation did not allow me to attend the working environment as I wished, but, despite this, I immediately felt involved in all activities, which included drafting new articles, participating in meetings and webinars, helping in the organization of public events, and establishing new partnerships and collaborations. All the people I interacted with supported and respected me throughout the whole experience and made me feel in a serene environment that was open to discussion and innovation. Despite the difficulties due to Covid-19, ACN has offered me many different experiences in tune with my interests that have allowed me to measure myself with a new and fascinating reality.

Concerning the working environment, at the end of this experience at ACN, I can say with great confidence that I have gained awareness of my abilities and feel more advantaged than many of my peers. Concerning, instead, the world of the EU, the initiatives and projects I worked on made me feel part not only of ACN as an organization, but of a European and international network actively working for the protection of citizens' and patients’ rights. Working at ACN has been a more than positive experience and, in this period of global difficulty and emergency, the best I could ask for. I highly recommend it.

Maira

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My internship experience with the Active Citizenship Network, the European network of Cittadinanzattiva, has brought me closer to the socio-political sphere of Europe and to patients' rights in a very complicated period of pandemic, in which the working environment has been forced to change completely. Through the projects in which I immersed myself during my internship experience, such as the European Civic Prize on Chronic Pain, I was able to help patients and organizations to have a voice in a period in which so many people felt abandoned. It has undoubtedly brought me closer in knowledge and affection for the collaboration of civic organizations and with institutions such as the European Union and has also shown me how much a citizen can make a difference in such important aspects, through civic activism, collaboration between European citizens, and by providing a voice to so many individuals.

The internship helped me learn a great deal of the ambitions and projects that European institutions deal with, especially in regard to the rights and opportunities for patients and fragile subjects which became even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic. The internship also opened up a new level of knowledge for me in the background of European affairs and institutional levels, and also helped me understand the lively and transparent relationship that the EU governing entities wish to have with the citizens, including providing them opportunities for employment and greater civic activism and defending the rights of European citizens. 

Gianluca

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During these months I have lived an extremely enriching and formative volunteering experience within the Active Citizenship office. The path I have taken in ACN has helped me to broaden my interests and improve my skills in the social field. Thanks to this experience I understood the value of networking, I had the opportunity to get in touch with doctors and researchers from various European countries and I acquired a wealth of new knowledge and skills that I will treasure in my future. Furthermore, thanks to this work, I had the opportunity to test myself by undertaking new work paths that allowed me to face new future possibilities. I am very grateful for this experience and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to deal with this working world. My experience with ACN has pushed me to want to know, in a much more in-depth way, the functioning of European policies related to citizens' rights, especially in the health sector. I had the opportunity to deal with local health policies within some European countries and this allowed me to learn different models from ours and through which it is possible to enrich our skills on the subject. The fundamental element that I made mine as a result of this experience undoubtedly concerns the importance of having access and promoting correct information regarding the sphere of rights and protections of citizens in the field of health and which are of public interest.

Giulia

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During my internship with Active Citizenship Network, I had the chance to see how civic participation can be a decisive factor in EU policymaking. From the start, I received lots of responsibilities and projects, such as the Launch of the second term of the MEPs Interest Group “Cross-Border Healthcare and Patients’ Rights”, which we held at the European Parliament. Thanks to my stay at Active Citizenship Network, I was able to understand how important discussion among different stakeholders takes place in order to further common goals, such as in the field of Health Policy.

My stay at Active Citizenship Network allowed me to have a look at how Civil Society Associations cooperate across Europe, and how synergies are formed to reach common goals aimed at strengthening citizens’ rights and empowerment. I learned how individual grievances, such as infringed rights of patients, can be addressed at the European level, and how making the civic voice heard is essential to the successful functioning of the European Union.

Riccardo

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During my period of work at Active Citizenship Network (ACN) I represented the interests of an organization that pursues common interests for raising awareness among European legislators on various issues. It was an exciting challenge that made me learn a lot about what Advocacy means to European institutions. Furthermore, having assisted the Director Mariano Votta in fundraising activities here in Brussels taught me how NGOs interface with the private sector and raise funds to carry out their activities. A useful experience to understand how and when the private sector uses financial resources to promote advocacy initiatives for everyone's interest. By carrying out these activities, I learned skills that will be useful to me throughout my professional career. I especially thank Mariano, Daniela, Bianca and Giuseppe for making this experience possible.

Federico

 

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I would have never thought that at the age of 30 I would have such an enriching and formative exchange experience outside of my country. The path I undertook as a volunteer for ACN has first of all formed me as a person, helping me to become aware of my abilities and potentialities, but also of my interests and language skills. Thanks to the experiences I have lived, I have improved in my path as a volunteer, I understood the importance of networking at the European level and not only at the local level, and I understood how necessary it is to build synergies to be more effective towards the achievement of our goals as volunteers. My experience with ACN has led me to study how European policies work, and all those policies that serve activists and volunteers. I also got to know the European model of participatory democracy which, although it still has room for improvement, represents a chance and a fundamental opportunity for us citizens to have our say on so many local issues that can be developed in the European context. In a world in which we are increasingly interconnected and interdependent, these aspects are fundamental for obtaining rights, protection and correct information for the benefit of citizens and patients.

I met many people from all over Europe, and I acquired new skills while improving my English. In addition, I understood my talents and the career paths I wanted to take. As a result, I brought unexpected results to my local association where I was able to "disseminate", to use a European term, the ideas I had developed. ACN offers the possibility to live enriching and formative experiences...in short, to "Think globally, act locally!"

Sara

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Working as project Assistant at Active Citizenship Network (ACN) was a very enriching experience. During my time there, I was mostly in charge of dealing with healthcare and patients’ rights at the European level. More specifically, I worked on different projects on patients’ safety and empowerment, e-health, vaccination, sustainable healthcare, and cross-border healthcare rights. Since the very first moment I was given numerous responsibilities, which allowed me to develop my organizational and management skills. The various tasks I was assigned included helping in the organization of public events, writing articles and content for the website, drafting the minutes of public events, preparing memoranda of understanding and partnership proposals, among others. Moreover, I was able to assist my colleagues in in the organization of the 13th edition of the European Patients' Rights Day as well as to attend public debates at the European Commission. Above all, I was mainly responsible for carrying out the second edition of the bi-annual research-project at the European level “EU Civic Prize on Chronic Pain - Collection of good practices”, which seeks to highlight existing good practices addressing the struggle against pain in several European countries.

While working, I had the chance to cooperate with a multitude of different stakeholders, including EU institutions, NGOs, professional associations, pharmaceutical corporations and universities. This also allowed me to take advantage of my language skills to get in contact with people from all over Europe and consequently expand my network. I believe that this working experience has been fundamental for my personal and professional growth. Indeed, it allowed me not only to improve my research and analytical skills, but also to be actively involved in the international arena, cooperating with a multitude of international stakeholders and understanding how social and political interactions take place at both the national and international level.

This internship helped me understand what I wanted to study in my master’s degree and in what field I would like to work in the future. Taking into account my whole experience at ACN, I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in this field. I really enjoyed working with Mariano and Daniela and I am confident that every experience at ACN will be as positive as mine.

Manuela

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I started the collaboration with Cittadinanzattiva Onlus - Active Citizenship Network Brussels’ office in October 2016. I collaborated on European policies regarding civil society and the protection of patients’ and consumers’ rights and on project activities. Among all, the participation in the evaluation focus group of the Europe for Citizens Programme, the organisation of the Citizenergy project event at the European Parliament and the organization of a session of the European Sustainable Energy Week 2017.

An added value was to personally assist the ACN Director, Dr. Mariano Votta, in institutional meetings at the European Commission, such as the European Consumer Consultative Group, with Members of the European Parliament and with various stakeholders from both the public and the private sector.

The collaboration with Cittadinanzattiva was a fantastic opportunity that drew me to the world of European institutions, associations and advocacy, developing interests and know-how that are integral part of my working life.

Giuseppe

(Updated: December 2021)

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