Virginie Nguyen and Geert Mak will receive the P&V Foundation's 2019 Citizenship Award
On Wednesday 20 November 2019, the P&V Foundation will give out its 15th Citizenship to Geert Mak and Virginie Nguyen.
The Citizenship Award is an annual award conferred to a person, initiative or organisation, of Belgian or international origin, whose activity has shown exemplary commitment to promoting an open, democratic, tolerant society.
Two committed journalists who offer, through accessible testimonies, a broader vision of society
This year, the jury chose two laureates who, through testimonies and portraits of ordinary people and in an accessible way, bring out a broader story and vision of our society. In the fight against division, bitterness and polarization in our society, they perfectly embody the values that the Foundation stands for: solidarity, emancipation, citizenship and participation. They each do this in a perfect way : one through words and the other trough pictures. With the Citizenship Award, the jury does not only want to honor both laureates for their work, but also aims to initiate a discussion about the role of words and pictures in our society. Olivier Servais, chairman of the P&V Foundation: “In a society that is increasingly dominated by pictures, it is of great importance to keep room for words, especially to safeguard a critical and reflexive spirit. With this duo of laureates, the P&V Foundation wants to symbolically promote this dialogue. "
Geert Mak, critical and nuanced journalist and writer
Geert Mak is a Dutch journalist and writer. He immerses himself in history and explores the roots of Europe, as we know them today. He reaches a wide audience with his work, in particular thanks to its accessible style and by making complex evolutions comprehensible and tangible for the reader through concrete stories of people and testimonies. He combines a classic history lesson with a journalistic approach. The reader receives both a testimony and a context as well as an interpretation of the history of the European continent.
Mak is appreciated around the world for his involvement in history and national and international news. He is concerned about the future of the European project. His criticism is grounded, constructive and aims to improve Europe for all citizens. He has warned for several years - even before this became a theme discussed during the last European elections - against the risks of lack of recognition of the human needs to feel at home. Geert Mak: "Many people feel that globalization and technological developments are going too fast, they do not feel at ease anymore in their own environment and can become nostalgic. Nostalgy leads to the desire to feel at home, to belong to a country that has, of course, never existed, but this desire is very strong and can be very dangerous. It must therefore be taken seriously.
In 1999, Geert Mak travelled across Europe for a year. The daily articles he published in the newspaper resulted in the book " In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century ". This novel deals with the twentieth century and how the events of this century have shaped us. In Europe, this novel has been published in twenty languages and sold more than 500,000 copies. The sequel "Grote verwachtingen" will be published on November 5, in which Mak goes back in 1999 and describes the last two decades.
Virginie Nguyen, committed photojournalist
Virginie Nguyen is a young Belgian photojournalist who has already built up a great career. She travels to war and conflict areas around the world. Not to take news nor exclusive photos, but mainly to talk about the impact of war on people living in those areas in their daily lives. She wants to tell the stories of people who often don't have the opportunity to speak out for themselves.
With two other journalists, she founded the HUMA collective, a non-profit organization with the aim of offering Belgian and international media reports on vulnerable groups and important social issues that often remain underexposed. Nguyen: “I often try to broach social issues through the daily worries of ordinary citizens. The public can identify, because everyone has a father, a mother, a child. And the more people can identify, the greater the impact of a story.”
Human resilience is a common thread in her reports within and outside of Europe. For example, in her multi-award-winning report “Gaza. The aftermath” about a number of families in the Gaza Strip during the reconstruction or in her work for Amnesty International“ Je Suis Humain ”about refugees who succeed in integrating into Belgian society through their art. Her most recent project "What the Foot ?!" deals with women's football and the emancipating effect it has.
The laudations of the laureates will be given by Rob Heirbaut, Europe correspondent for the VRT, and Valérie Michaux, spokesperson for Amnesty International in French-speaking Belgium.
The Foundation will hand to the laureates a sculpture created by Philip Aguirre y Otegui.
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