Your JCI The Heart of Europe’s Newsletter


A word from our 2017 President

Our chapter of JCI The Heart of Europe had a lot of Movement in 2017.

Most importantly to date we succeeded in organizing the European Capitals Meeting with a lot of positive members, candidate members, and members of our partner chapters JCI Bruxelles and JCI Brussels. We all thank you for your commitment, good mood, and power!

Never before, have we had such a good connection to our partner chapters, and we hope to continue in this positive direction.

We have a very motivated board – which is a great help: 

We have learned more about networking, and being more known in other JCI chapters of Belgium and in foreign countries, as our main goal was to CONNECT with people in all situations. We are always on the lookout for new members, so if you are an Expat or Belgian with an international mindset, who believes in the mission and vision of JCI, we welcome you with all our hearts.

Perhaps you are soon with us dear reader and we thanks for tagging along!

Hereunder you’ll find some happenings, important dates and some cool info about the ECM (like this picture below)

Edith Patron – President JCI THOE 2017

European Capital’s Meeting in the Heart of Europe

By Katinka Meszaros – Conference Director

On 27 – 30 April, JCI The Heart of Europe (JCI THOE) had the opportunity to organize the 2017 edition of the European Capitals Meeting (ECM) in Brussels.

This unique event takes place every year since 1992 and represents the freedom of our society. Freedom, to meet between cultures, political regimes, nations. It was not always obvious that Berlin – London – Paris could get together and have a friendly beer. After the Cold War and the end of Communism in Eastern-Europe, a few wonderful minds came up with the idea to connect JCI members of different European capital together, share experiences, meet new people and make lifetime friendships.

We, JCI THOE had the honour to host this event in 1995 and this year in 2017. Every year, the organizer of the next ECM is voted at the previous one. However, our trip didn’t start this easily. The ECM 2016 where we wanted to apply, has been cancelled because of the inconvenient situation in Turkey, Ankara. Therefore, we were bidding online in June-July 2016. More than 100 people voted for us and we were so happy when Daniel Ziska announced that we won!

We formed a team in June, with my lead, Katinka Meszaros, and we started to put our head together about the main topics. The only thing we were sure, is that after the attacks of Brussels, we wanted to:

  • Promote Brussels, being a beautiful capital of the Heart of Europe
  • Show that we continue and we don’t let fear overtake our life
  • Wanted to make positive change on our community

Did we succeed? However, you might think that ECM is not a local project, or at least it doesn’t have impact on the local community; we strongly believed that we can make a difference and we indeed can have a positive impact in Brussels. We also set our goal to have a follow up project in Brussels which is a result of ECM and follows our work in the local community.

During ECM, we had a 3.5 days’ program where we had a “Chocolate walk” with Leonidas, our partner, in the city centre and our “Opening Ceremony” on 27 April in the prestigious City Hall of Brussels; a UNESCO heritage building on the Grand Place. 

On 28 April, we learnt about the EU Institutions while visiting the Parlamentarium and the European Parliament. The day continued with a guided tour by Jorge, from Bravo Discovery. We discovered the hidden beauties of Brussels, from the Maison Dandoy through the Grand Place guilts till the Toone Theater. Combined with some chocolate, speculoos and beer tasting, it was a perfect day to get to know each other with all the ECM participants. We finished the day at Le Roy d’Espagne, a Belgian restaurant on the Grand Place. The endless positive energy, fun and good vibes added a great atmosphere to the evening which was crowned by the song “Happy Birthday”, which we heard many times during the conference. I must say, this was the best thing, the beauty of a group of people gathering together and creating a bond that nobody can plan. I felt so lucky to be part of this group of wonderful people.

On 29 April, we continued with some real work during the “Conference day on Sustainable Cities and Communities #SDG11”. We had an honour to meet with very high level speakers like Peter Wollaert from UNITAR who is also the Managing Director of CIFAL Flanders; Pascal Smet who is the Minister of Brussels Mobility and Public works; Christos Doulkeridis from Ecolo and Wallonia Parliament Member. We learnt about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and where is it still needed to make effort to reach the goals by 2030. For more information, please see Peter Wollaert’s presentation here. We also learnt about what Brussels does for its communities to make living together easier. We listened to Pascal Smet’s presentation of “City of People”. We also got an introduction about what is that mean to be an expat in Brussels and belong to one community. Do we all have the same start line in administration or rights? Do we have the same treatment as Belgians? There is some working point there, for sure!

After this session, we got inspired by local project linked to sustainability and communities living together.

  • The Future of Molenbeek, showed us a wonderful initiative of Christophe Vercarre who changed his life to become a teacher in Molenbeek and make a difference in student’s life. Their growfunding project aimed to collect 8000euros to by bicycle and computers for student to enable them to participate in the society with the same possibilities as others do. This project got support from many wonderful people of JCI members from different chapters and we are happy to be able to contribute to the successfully collection of the 8000euros.
  • Pool is Cool promotes the idea to have public pools in Brussels. Check out their project if you want to know more.
  • Tridea is a company which takes plastic waste and recycles it into filament for 3D printing purposes. At Tridea they believe there is no such thing as waste.
  • Purifungi is an initiative taking place at the merge of design, science and the environment. Understanding symbiosis within nature and for that matter more specifically mushrooms, can offer inspirations to design systems and materials that co-work harmoniously with nature.

After this inspiring morning session, we continued with a workshop session where we worked on different project ideas that we could do in our capitals, in our cities.

This fruitful day was ended by a “Superheroes Gala dinner and party” where the Happy Birthday song couldn’t have been evitable ?

This wonderful experience ended with a Brunch on 30 April where we looked back to the past days. 

This experience wouldn’t have been possible without a group of people who sacrificed their free time and invested endless positive energy; who are dedicated JCI members from the 3 JCI Chapters in Brussels, as we say, from “JCI Brussels United”. It surely brought us closer and bonded us for life. With 45 participants from 8 different European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Poland) this was an amazing experience.

Did we make a difference on our local community? I believe we had a great step forward with this event which allows us to continue and make more positive impact.

I think, the ship cannot go without its personnel. Although the captain is needed to guide, the speed and distance depends on the parts which make the machine work. Without a dedicated team and a higher objective of a “noble cause”, there is no fuel and there is no movement. As a captain of the ECM 2017 ship, I feel honoured to be able to work with such a wonderful team. Did we have difficulties? Yes. Did we have problems? Yes. Did everybody know what to do? No. We learnt together, we grew together and we made it together!

Find all the pictures from the ECM here.

Third Thursday Drink’s – Raise a Glass!

Every 3rd Thursday of the month the 3 JCI chapters of Brussels organize the TTD(Third Thursday Drink!) in a different location. This way we get to meet network, check out new places in Brussels, and have some fun. BTW everyone is welcome including non-members. J

So far in 2017, our chapter has organized 2 such events!

  • One was in collaboration with @7 party
  • One was in the wine bar Etiquette


Hereunder you’ll find some souvenir pictures! The next TTD is on the 15 of June, we hope to see you there.


During the Belgian GA of the 1st of April Nadia Maret was elected National President. We wish her all the best in her new position and look forward to more collaborations in the future.

Activities and Workshops – The Journey so far!

This year we have put together some great events and workshops for everyone to experience and learn from:

Project kick-off meeting in Beermania:

We heard pitches, networked, sampled delicious Belgian beer and gorged on golden frites. There was also a special appearance by, Valérie de Groote the SDG( Sustainable Goal Development) ambassador to the UN, who gave us a presentation on how to use the SDGs as a foundation for future projects and initiatives.

Achieve and Impact – 20 of May

Joke and Simona, saved the day by taking on the training last minute, and we had a wonderful day of learning about JCI values and projects – we also had some fantastic home catering, by the JCI THOE Board. Do tag along for the next set of workshops. See some pictures below.

Upcoming Workshops

30 September – Workshop on Career Management – Details to come

Because we are always on the lookout for new partnerships and interesting workshops, we are delighted to present Lena Bera, a talent coach and creative entrepreneur who has very kindly agreed to give us a workshop which will take place at ICAB.  We look forward to working with her. (see workshop and bio below).

6 September – 6 Steps to Finding your Why, by Lena Bera

Have you ever wondered why you are here on this planet? What should you be doing for work? Or what kind of expression would best reflect your deepest needs and desires? 

If so, this workshop will help you get started with answering these important questions and triggering your mind to think of ways to bring your life purpose from paper – to reality.

To “live your purpose” means that you’re doing what you love to do, doing what you’re good at and what’s important to you. When you are “on purpose” you’re fulfilled and naturally attract resources and opportunities that you need. 


Lena Bera is a talent coach and creative entrepreneur who helps professionals get clarity, confidence, and, motivation to take the next career step. She focuses on supporting and empowering others to discover and express their unique talents to do the work they love and make a difference.

Lena shares practical and easy to implement career and life strategies in her Newsletter every Tuesday. A former public and private sector professional who worked on international development and healthcare, she believes in doing meaningful work centred around people. To learn more visit Lena’s website.


Important Dates to note in your agenda!

Next GA:

Don’t forget that the next GA is on the 27 of June. It will take place from 18:30pm to 10:30pm at ICAB, room AZZAR. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Election time:

Thinking about joining the board? Elections are coming up on the 23 of October. Want to find out more or talk to someone from the Board? Get in touch.


Until the next meeting dear friends,


Your 2017 JCI THOE Board