City life, its speed, excitement, variety, culture and job opportunities act as a magnet for young people.
But not everyone of a certain age yearns for the bright lights of the city, some prefer the countryside and its charms and traditions.
We are in Spain to meet up with 36 young people from nine European countries, their purpose is to promote and defend rural life.
Hugo Barthalay is a French national who has heeded the call of the countryside: “The countryside scares some young people because it’s far away from everything, there is a lack of amenities, the social life isn’t very intense, even though it’s different, but a good many young people are changing their ideas about rural life.”
The Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth Movement came together for a week in Toledo, Spain to exchange ideas, reflect on subjects such as sustainability – and have some fun.
Hugo is 22 and a student. His university is 200 kilometres away so he explained he has chosen distance learning: “My choice seems strange to some. When I explain that I’m on a distance learning course and prefer to live in the countryside, people think I have no social life, no contact with fellow students, but actually I have as much as the others via new technologies, and I meet other people I wouldn’t have the chance to meet if I was at university.”
According to the UN 180,000 people, mostly young, migrate to cities everyday. But since the financial crises things are changing.
Noelia Martin, who is from Spain, told euronews: “The average age of the rural population is very high. There are many old people. Actually not many young people want to stay there. But the urban exodus has started, like we used to have rural exodus, in the past. Little by little, people are returning to the villages.”
Rural-urban migration is the theme of the gathering backed by the EU and the Council of Europe and on the menu is a meeting with migrants from South America and Africa.
How immigrants in rural areas are perceived by locals is a major issue, country folk tend to be more conservative and there is distrust, much more than in cities.
The workshops continue and the group we are watching take a trip into Toledo to gauge the attitude of locals towards immigrants.
One woman they encountered said: “I think it’s a very good initiative because immigration is a phenomenon which has a lot of influence, especially on employment.”
Across Europe 13 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 live in rural areas and the rural youth movement is working hard to combat social exclusion.
Ania Caryk, whose parents are Polish farmers, told us: “There are young people who are living in the villages and they are not motivated to do anything. They are not moving to the city, but they are not doing anything to create a better image of their village. I’m here to help them to understand that in order to improve their lives, to make it better than their parents had, we should create a change, we should create something.”
Whether one chooses life in the city or country there is something for all and who says a young person cannot take pleasure from the simple things in life.
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