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Why Brussels? Why Belgium?

The answer is simple: expansion. To expand, for example, one’s understanding of Europe. Reduced by misconception to a geo-juxtaposition of States or an experiment in economic community, ‘Europe’ as seen through Belgium takes on fuller meaning as a historical, cultural and political experiment in civilization as well as a rich potpourri of sub- and supra-national cultures. Belgium’s history at the heart of the rise of the nation-state, it’s place in the center of dense, urbanized Europe and it’s mosaic of languages and cultures make it a textbook on European society.
If Belgium is Europe-in-a-bottle, Brussels is – counter-intuitively perhaps – a great vantage point for expanding one’s ideas of European integration beyond Eurocrats pushing reams of paper. As a capital of Europe Brussels is a Hieronymus Bosch triptych of all that is happening at a European level: the myriad of initiatives, activist movements and soft lobbying campaigns in all areas on all issues whether cultural, social or political, carried out by European citizens.
Lastly, there’s Brussels the city. Youthful in population, a center of research and intellectual activity, suffused by an intense cultural life focused on contemporary creativity in all the arts, neighborhood-based but thoroughly globalized, Brussels is an exciting place to be while offering student-interns the fullest range of possibilities from IR research to literary promotion or neighborhood housing experiments.

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