The project

– A project about a project and about people involved in this project -(or) – words about Humans of the E.U., from its founder –

Russia mirror

(Once upon a time…)

Three years ago to be exact* – I moved to Brussels, Belgium and back then, little did I know that I would fall in love with the hectic and chaotic European capital and that I would also deeply fall in love with its people.

Almost half of Brussels’ people are ‘citizens of the world and through both my life in this city and my work for the European Parliament, I have come to contact with a wide range of new Brusseleers’: foreigners visiting for a while, expats living here since a while, tourists that happened to overstay, interns that decided to overstay and EU workers that committed to forever stay.

This photography and storytelling project is about all of these people – the Homo Europeans actually gathered here (and throughout Europe and beyond the seas) because of one common mission : the European project.

(Why the European project?)

Because it may be the current most beautiful and long lasting project promoting peace and harmony between individuals. That in itself deserves some beautiful and long lasting celebration.

The European project started in 1958, when the European institutions were coincidentally or accidentally built and opened in Brussels, the city became de facto the European Union capital and started attracting flows of human beings, leaving their national member states to settle here and work towards the European project. As of today, so sixty years later, the European capital is still abounding with people from all 28 European member states and beyond – living and working here towards what they perceive as a common dream.

The question we ask ourselves through this project (aka Humans of the E.U.) is:

Who are these people?

What are their stories?

Where do they place themselves as human beings in this broader European project that they work so hard towards?

With their happy and not so happy days – these people believe in this idea(l) that is the European Union. The EU would not be, without these people.

This photoblog is about all of these people, about their stories, about who they are and also about how the EU project contributes (albeit a bit) in shaping part of who they are. This photoblog stems from a place of love. Because the European Union after all stems from a place of love.

(Why Humans of the E.U.?)

Why, after having lived in Europe for more than six years, I started myself thinking a lot about notions of identity and even subtly re-defining my own; I started to feel very European (even being a non-EU citizen) and I gradually understood the importance of humanising the European Union. Because Europe is this intangible idea that each individual attempts to define in their own way; I thought the best way of explaining the E.U. top the world, was simply to portray its people, the ones behind the facade of these grey buildings, the ones behind their desks, the ones working towards making the intangible tangible.

I started taking photos of my colleagues at the European Parliament and then expanded to taking photos of all people involved in the project – those in other European institutions, for grassroots movements, lobbies, consultancies, all organisations linked to the E.U. .

I wish for this project to not only provide education about the E.U.’s human beings, and indirectly about the E.U. in itself and I also hope for it to bring harmony between people, through the power of storytelling: with all the emotions, sincerity and human connection that stories ignite in us.

Soundous Boualam