Falilou Kebe and Bianca Carli (Bocconi)

The CIVICA European Week: a diverse environment “where everyone could learn from others”


Two students from Bocconi University talk about their experience of the CIVICA European Week and this year’s topic of financial literacy.

From 8-11 June, 50 students participated in the first edition of the CIVICA European Week, an immersive and engaging mix of lectures, tutorials and group work centred around the topic of practical household finance.

Held online, and hosted by the Stockholm School of Economics, the initiative saw students from SSE, Sciences Po, Bocconi University and LSE, together with local high-school students, engage together in four intense days on how to promote financial literacy and effectively manage one’s financial resources - aiming to raise students’ understanding of this social challenge. The students worked together with local companies and organisations that provided them with case studies.

We talked to two students from Bocconi, Falilou Kebe, 21 years old, a BS Economics and Finance student, and Bianca Carli, 21, a BS Economics and Management student, who participated in the event, to hear their thoughts about this experience:

Why did you apply for the European Week? 

Falilou: I strongly believe in social engagement in our society and one of the keywords of the initiative was diversity: only in a diverse environment, we can drive innovative solutions.

Bianca: I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn in an interactive, group-based and problem-based way, and to meet people from other countries in order to expand my network. And the topic, financial literacy, combined two of my main interests - financial decisions and social engagement.

This year's topic was financial literacy. Why is this topic important and how did you work to address it during the European Week? 

Falilou: Financial literacy within our society is crucial because, without it, people can make wrong or disadvantageous financial choices for their well-being and lives. During the European Week, I tried to use all available resources; particularly by deepening my knowledge with the academic papers and lectures on the topic.

Bianca: During lectures, we were introduced to financial literacy, which is a widespread problem that we should address and acknowledge as a tool to improve the financial health of members of society: by being financially literate, individuals can make rational decisions to better allocate their money. In my case, during the Week, Swedbank asked us to find a solution to the problem of young people not being interested in pension savings. With the help of a tutor, we decided to propose an app which could simulate the benefits of starting pension savings early. 

How did you collaborate with students from other institutions and backgrounds? 

Falilou: At first, it was quite strange because we were all strangers to one another, and we met only on Zoom. However, over time, we noticed we had completely different backgrounds (public policy, economics, psychology, and so on) and we decided to take advantage of this diversity by creating a learning environment where everyone could learn from others.

Bianca: I was worried that only meeting virtually would be a problem, but I could not be more wrong: we all participated in a proactive and resourceful way, which led to a really good group dynamic. And the different backgrounds of everyone really added to the group discussions.

Tell us about a European Week activity that has left a lasting impression on you.

Falilou: I would say the presentation day when each group exposed their solutions of their assigned business case: particularly, I was impressed by the power of creating teams composed of a diverse range of students. Indeed, each student has different perspectives from which to address the problem and, even if we were in front of a camera, I felt the passion and dedication of everyone in preparing their presentations.

Bianca: For sure the final presentation: the fact that we were very proud of our project contributed to the emotion and excitement we had when presenting it to our peers and the representative of Swedbank. And also the social dinner, in which the environment and spirit of an in-presence event were recreated by a series of games, contests and one-on-one interactions that made it easy to socialize and get to know other people.

How do you think the knowledge and skills you gained during the European Week will help you in your future studies?

Falilou: I learned much more about the CIVICA community - its activities, its principles, and its values - and I am sure I will refine my studies towards social policy to help disadvantaged communities in their process of social mobility. Additionally, I understood the impact that the lack of financial literacy among people can have on the global economic system.

Bianca: It enriched me and made me think outside the box. Meeting people with such different backgrounds was a great opportunity for me to consider career paths and future specialisations which I would not have thought about. And the lectures were particularly interesting, covering different topics, from financial institutions and bond valuation to the more social aspects of decision-making such as psychology and game theory.


Interview by Tomaso Eridani (Bocconi University)

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