It doesn’t matter if you have the most professional equipment there is or just the camera in your phone. It’s what’s on the other side of the lenses and how you decide to capture it that counts. With a camera in your hand you can not only seize a single moment in time, you can also learn something new about the world surrounding you, about yourself, you can spread your vision, release it into the world. You can discover yourself and discover Europe.

That’s how the idea for Discover Europe was born. The initial intent was to establish a multicultural connection, a dialogue between students from different parts of the Old Continent, so that they can exchange ideas and inspiration. To facilitate understanding and mutual respect. To show each other the various aspects of our shared home. To get a better understanding of Europe and its people in current times. Photography is precisely what enables young Europeans to show what they care about and what interests them nowadays. In 2013 the European Parliament recognized those values and awarded Discover Europe with second prize in the European Charlmange Contest for non-profit organizations.

The whole idea started small and grew over the years into the form it has today. Just during the last edition students entered 3673 photos into the contest, varying from ones depicting serious topics affecting our continent at that time, such as refugees to uplifting shots from their journeys. Throughout the years the aim of DE hasn’t changed, it’s still concentrated on connecting students from all over Europe, especially now, when atmosphere of division is surrounding us.

Many companies and foundations have given their support to Discover Europe inspired by the idea behind it. For several years now FRSE, a foundation that has been improving Polish education since 1993, has helped the organization in bringing the vision of the contest to life. A close cooperation was also created between DE and Student Travel, as both share similar values and focus on the same group – students. The travel agency organizes trips all over Europe and to other destinations around the world. One of the prizes in the contest are vouchers from them. This edition has yet another very special partner – ASUS. The multinational computer hardware and electronics company engaged themselves tremendously by creating their own category. The rewards for the top places will come from them.

The conduct of the contest itself is fairly simple. Up to six photographs can be submitted into four categories: Citizen of Europe, which is centred around the residents of Europe; Postcard from Europe, which allows people to share places close to their hearts; Surprise me, Europe, a category committed to extraordinary and surprising moments. The last one, Incredible is now, was created by ASUS and focuses on the elusive beauty, which can be captured by a camera in one’s phone. A photo can be submitted both into one of the first three categories as well as to the last one. While filling the form there is a “taken with a phone” box that needs to be checked. There are two stages of the contest. First the regional stage and then central. Ten percent of the images send to the regional stage are accepted into the central stage. Additionally, three pictures from each category are appointed and will be rewarded during the regional galas. The central stage ends with a big gala where three photos from each category are awarded and a vernissage of the winning photos takes place. Photos send from abroad take part only in the central stage.

Not only is the contest an opportunity to win various awards, but also to show a piece of yourself and get a far better understanding of other young people with whom we share one home – Europe. The need for unity is now stronger than ever and that is something that Discover Europe tries, quite successfully for years, to accomplish. Together we can do so much more than apart.

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