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A personal perspective on the concluding points of The Future is Heritage (ENG)

A blogpost by Wouter Hinrichs (English) - from The Future is Heritage: Breaking Barriers

As part of the aftermath of the summit, it is necessary to look at it in an evaluating way. What were the true points of success? How did the participants experience the summit? These are examples of questions that will be answered in the next few paragraphs.

An important key point of success was the social interaction between the participants, the organization crew members and all others involved. Following the sessions that took place with the different presentations that were held, a lot of conversations started up. These conversations were foremost about the subjects discussed in the sessions. After a short while, people started to ask about each other’s background and in what kind of sector they were working. Some important points that came up during these conversations were “what are the things that makes your job harder to do?” “How did you manage to make a project after such a hard process, work?" & “Is there a way I can help you through my network?". The participants engaged in deep conversations with each other and shared their stories and motivations in the heritage sector. By sharing their stories, experiences, highpoints and pitfalls, the participants flourished in a very profitable situation by learning from others and to get inspired.

On a personal level, I found this very pleasant. As a bachelor student in archaeology, a starter in the heritage sector, I found it very informational to hear so many stories from the other participants. It inspired me. Likewise, the contact with the other participants was very equal, which made me feel heard and appreciated. I was able to share my ideas and point of views with others on a respectful level.

The contact between me, and the other participants did not only took place on a professional level, but people also engaged with each other on a personal level. Now the summit has ended, a lot of us are still in contact with one another. Regarding to this, it can be stated that the summit in Berlin created a fantastic including and professional network of young professionals who work in or are engaged in the heritage sector in Europe.

Another aspect that proved to be a success, was the platform of The Future is Heritage itself! As a young professional, student, volunteer or enthusiast, it is often quite hard to share your ideas, experiences, projects or work ethic on a big platform. During our summit in Berlin, the platform gave this group of people a chance to share their ideas and talk with the other participants about the obstacles in their work and try to find solutions for these problems. Many participants shared their enthusiasm about being part of an international young professional summit and that they hadn’t see a similar summit in their countries, or internationally, that had the same framework as The Future is Heritage.

Finally, one of the most important factors (maybe the most important factor) that made The Future is Heritage a success, were the participants. Everyone brought a certain quality that raised the bar. The mix of professional and cultural backgrounds made the summit also very interesting! The different approaches and perspectives on certain topics made the conversations about the presentations and the conversations with each other very diverse, but in this diversity, there was also a feeling of unity. Everyone present participated in the sessions and all other activities with passion and devotion! This created an energy that was highly motivational for everyone there.

It is important to look beyond the successes of The Future is Heritage and focus on what must be done in the future to make working in the European heritage sector as a Young professional, more easy and pleasant. Mainly in the final session, the participants sat down together to write down our joint, but also personal, conclusions on the Berlin-Wall paper. On this BerlinWallpaper, there were a lot of positive messages about the activities and conversations that took place during the summit, but a lot of people also wrote down their view of changes that have to be made to make their work easier.

One of the main concluding topics that came out as a result of the summit on the Berlin-wallpaper was about payment, or more so, the lack of payment for work that is executed by young professionals. During the summit, a lot of the persons present shared their frustrations about minimal payment, or no payment at all for their work. Organizations and companies often tend to lure young professionals and enthusiasts to projects, expecting that youngsters will work on these projects from their passion and that there is no need to pay them for their work, or to pay them small compensations.

Another important point of consideration is inclusiveness. This is quite a broad term and can be applicable on several topics. However, cultural inclusiveness might be most important in this regard. Your cultural background shouldn’t be a disadvantage in your work, instead, it should be celebrated and make people stronger. We, as a generation of young heritage professionals, want to include everyone in Europe and celebrate our cultural diversity. Not only does it help in creating a stronger Europe, it also enriches our own identity.

Finally, a topic that significantly came forward was unity and mutual respect between generations of professionals in heritage. There shouldn’t be such a hard focus on age when working in heritage. A joint heritage sector could bring out the best in our work. For example, older generations can share their past work experiences and give advice to younger generations about pitfalls and things you should pay attention to, so younger generations can learn from their great careers. Younger generations can bring completely new ideas to the table with the different points of view from the world they have.

During the European High Policy Debate that took place on Friday, I was able to climb the stage together with many talented young professionals to share these perspectives, these values, these experiences but also the things we think that should change. I, personally, strongly believe that we, as generations together, can make these changes work. Conversation is very important and will always be very important. We should keep the conversation going with each other, instead of retreating in our own bubbles. Instead of walking alongside each other, we should walk hand in hand!

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