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Introductory Module of “Experiencing Europe” in Graz and Vienna

42 Young professionals from Serbia, future interns in Austrian companies spent two weeks in Graz and Vienna to prepare for their three month internship starting in October 2007 and January 2008 within the project “Experiencing Europe”

After a German language course and lectures on European Integration in Graz, the Serbian young professionals went to Vienna to meet their future employers at the “Networking Event”. They were received in the Austrian Parliament in Vienna.  A special honour was the reception by the Austrian Minister of Exterior, Ms. Ursula Plassnik, at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in Vienna.

From September 3 until September 18, the 42 participants of “Experiencing Europe: Serbian Young Professionals in Austria – Zoran Djindjic Internship Programme” attended the preparatory programme in Graz and Vienna. The project, which gives young people from Serbia the opportunity of gaining three months of vocational experience in Austrian companies and institutions, is financed by the Austrian Development Cooperation and the Dr. Zoran Djindjic Fund and is implemented by WUS Austria.
Their stay was characterized by the idea of preparing the future interns for their working experiences in Austria and of acquainting them with the German language and the Austrian culture. During the two weeks, the participants attended three hours of intensive language course in the morning and classes on European integration in the afternoon.

Getting to Know Austria
An event of a different kind offered the participants the opportunity to better get to know each other – but also the Province of Styria. The so called “Socializing Event” took place on 8th of September in Gamlitz, Southern Styria, and consisted of a walking-tour through the vineyards and a stop for a snack in “Buschenschank Kapun”. Fortunately, the weather, against all forecasts, was sunny and quite warm for the beginning of September and offered the best conditions for a trip to this magnificent wine-dominated region. The participants were that also Mrs. Sonja Asanovic Todorovic, the general consul of Serbia in Graz, joined their outing. Mrs. Asanovic Todorovic found warm and cordial words for the future interns and promised to help to make their stay in Austria as pleasant as possible. Special thanks goes to the Styrian Governor Franz Voves who sponsored the snacks at one of the “Buschenschanks”, traditional Austrian wine taverns. As Mr. Voves was not able to join the group in Gamlitz himself, Mr. Detlef Gruber from the Styrian Parliament spent some time with the Serbian young professionals in the local tavern and welcomed them to Styria.

Visit to Vienna
On the 16th of September, the group left Graz and travelled to Vienna to get to know Austria’s capital as link between East and West and as the hosting city for a large number of interns. The next day, the group was invited to a reception in the Austrian Parliament by Mr. Rudolf Stohanzl of the Parliamentary Directorate: first, Mr. Stohanzl who personally guided the group through the Parliament. The group was honoured to meet Mr. Caspar Einem, former Austrian Minister for Interior, who gave an account on different matters regarding the national political system, Austria’s opinion to the Western Balkans and the legislation procedure.
In the evening, the “Networking-Event” took place in “Volksbildungshaus Wiener Urania”: The goal of this event was on the one hand a project presentation (including an overview of the participating companies and institutions as well as of the interns) and on the other a first matching between firm representatives and the participants. WUS Austria had the pleasure to welcome representatives of all project partners: Mrs. Ruzica Djindjic, president of the Dr. Zoran Djindjic Fund, Mr. Michael Schieder, responsible representative of the Austrian Development Agency, and Mr. Almir Kovacevic, executive director of WUS Austria. Furthermore, Mr. Georg Krauchenberg from the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (Austrian Trade) gave a short speech on the importance of this project for the Austrian economy. All of the speakers appreciated the initiation of this project by the Austrian Minister for European and international Affairs, Ms. Ursula Plassnik, and Ruzica Djindjic as well as the big value of this programme for the Serbian youth and the Austrian companies/institutions. A special highlight was the presentation of one of the participants, Mirko Dautovic, who underlined the meaning of such a programme for Serbian young professionals and used this opportunity to thank the organisers for their great professional work when implementing this programme. Another important part of this event consisted in the presentation of the participating companies/institutions, the concrete internships and the participants by the coordinator of this programme at WUS Austria, Miss Jasmin Moser. During the following buffet, the interns used their possibility of getting in contact with their future employers and of discussing their future fields of work.

Young People as Serbia’s Way to Europe
Before the departure of the group back to Serbia on the 18th, Minister Ursula Plassnik invited them to a reception in the Ministry for European and international Affairs. At this special occasion, Mrs. Plassnik and Mrs. Djindjic underlined again the importance of this programme for both, Austria and Serbia. “These young people want a secure and clear European future”, said Ruzica Djindjic and added that this idea was also the vision of her murdered husband. Ursula Plassnik shared the same idea, “These young people are and create Serbia’s future. They are the moving spirit for Serbia’s way to Europe and a vital link between our two regions. […] We want to make the European perspective for the population in the region concrete and tangible. This refers to a facilitation of mobility as well.” Finally, she ended her speech with the words, “Serbia’s path to the European Union may still be long and bumpy, but everybody has to make his contribution. Then we will finally achieve our aim: Serbia as integrative part of a reunified Europe and the enlargement of the European zone of peace and wealth on the Balkans as well.” (see
After the reception, all 42 participants travelled back to Serbia again; however, 26 will return again on the 7th of October for their three-month internships in Austria. The second group will start gathering their working experience on the 7th of January 2008.

Jasmin Moser
Program Unit Coordinator


Ms. Ruzica Djindjic speaking at the Networking event (left), with A. Kovacevic (WUS Austria), M. Schieder (ADA), G. Krauchenberig (Austrian Federal Economic Chamber) and Jasmin Moser (WUS Austria)Foreign Minister, Dr. Plasnik, with Ruzica Djindjic and some of the young professionals.