No citizen, entrepreneur or student was safe this week in Liverpool. Seven students of the Friesland College from Leeuwarden went to Liverpool and took off in three groups, with the aim to find out why Liverpool was such a great success as European capital of culture in 2008.
Students fired many questions at their ‘victims’ to find out how the city experienced the event. How was it really like to be a European Capital of Culture? And are the effects till this day still noticeable? And perhaps most importantly, can Leeuwarden learn something from Liverpool?
The day full of special meetings and fun conversations have impressed the seven students. An owner of a bookshop told the students how she has enjoyed the festivities and how her network has expanded in such a way that it, up to this day, still has its benefits.
The woman also told how the neighborhood revived, that people from different classes showed together initiative and that there really has been formed a community. Many passers-by found that 2008 clearly left its marks in a positive way. The events and activities in the field of art and culture have really put Liverpool on the map.
The universities in the area have significantly contributed to the Cultural Capital of 2008. Special committees were set who have properly managed the whole project. This was not without merit, because the universities have drawn a lot of attention and Liverpool has turned into a real student city. With more housing for students, there came more life into the city.
A point of criticism, as all seven students agreed, many of the activities and investments in Liverpool were focused on the city center. The region around the city noticed very little off the event. “Therefore, the focus should not only be on Leeuwarden, but we should involve all of Friesland”. The students want to, once they are back home, inform the people in Friesland on their findings.
The visit to the city was initiated by students of the SESAME project and VET Friesland College both partner of Knowledge2018. The SESAME project is a European initiative to boost social entrepreneurship and mentoring in the region.
Two students (Cherise and Tim) won the trip by setting up a social enterprise via College Company. Another student (Yvette) also has her own company accomplished by a school project. Students Kimberley and Daphne are in an internship at 03 Leeuwarden and are linked to Knowledge2018 and CH2018. They also have set up their own businesses. Students Feije and Jordi became involved through their internship at Project SESAME and CH2018.
Do students look differently at Leeuwarden as cultural capital after this visit to Liverpool? A heartfelt ”Yes!” was the answer! The enthusiasm and the revival which they saw in the people they have spoken to, made them realize how much an event like this will mean for the population. ”It is still alive even after seven years!”