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European Networks

2015. February 16.

In May 2014 an international conference discussed issues of a European talent-support network in Budapest.

The more than 200 participants agreed about the importance of a broader network, and in September the General Assembly of the European Council for High Ability (ECHA) accepted the document establishing the international network of European Talent Centres and Talent Points.

Professor Péter Csermely, President of ECHA, believes a continental network is necessary to answer the diverse and changing challenges of our century. Those answers can be more readily be given by talents thinking out of the box and living very intensive lives. It can be safely said that talents are society’s life insurance. Identifying and supporting talented people has become an important issue in several European countries. In keeping with its multicolour traditions, Europe has a vast methodological variety in the area of talent support. Many of those outstanding methods exist in isolation from each other. Only few people can claim to have knowledge of the best practices. Truly outstanding talents frequently need mentors who can be found in other countries. A continental network could help solve such problems. In this context the word “European” is understood to mean the whole continent, not only the Member States of the European Union. ECHA has several members from outside the EU.

The development of the European network began earlier. Held during the Hungarian presidency of the EU in 2011, the European Conference on Talent Support led to the founding of the European Talent Centre in Budapest. The Centre collected information on talent support institutions and movements in several European countries. As a result, a so-called talent activity map was drawn up, providing up-to-date information on European talent support movements (http://www.talentcentrebudapest.eu/talentmap).

The next step is to step up co-operation by means of the European network. As more and more American, Indian and Chinese talent support movements have expressed an interest, it is hoped that the European example will be adopted on other continents.

In Hungary and in the Carpathian Basin we have a large network of over 1300 so-called talent points. Directly or indirectly, the network reaches out to more than 200,000 people. Co-operation of this magnitude is unique in the world. That sort of organised talent support can serve as a good example when constructing a continental network. Also, it is very important for Hungary to learn from the best European practices.

In a network, experts and teachers can learn new ideas and share the best practices of their own experience to help youngsters of other countries. Meeting teachers, psychologists and mentors who are having to deal with similar problems, fills you up emotionally. That sort of renewal is an effective weapon against burnout.

Professor Csermely believes that in the long term the growth and diversification of interpersonal networks has immeasurable benefits. New personal contacts open up new possibilities that can influence one’s career in an entirely new and enjoyable way.

The most important players in this story are the gifted young people. Their fluency in foreign languages, their ability to find their way in strange cultures and situations, and their self-confidence that looks upon new situations as welcome challenges instead of horror, is not only a measure of the development of their talents, but also, it can create profit that is measurable in billions of dollars. Outstanding talents can find the mentors of their field anywhere in Europe. Tapping on their knowledge and measuring themselves to them, they will be able to achieve even greater performance.