When Giulia Amparo Bruni Roccia was in her room in London and decided to upload a video on the We-NATO website, she did not know she was about to live one of the best experiences of her life.
“NATO organized this competition worldwide and participants just had to upload a one minute long video,” she said. “Twenty winners would be selected and the winners would have the possibility to come to Chicago and attend the events surrounding the summit.”
Bruni Roccia said she met the other 19 winners who came from all over the world. The young group had to blog from the event every day. All the blogs were submitted for review and got published on the website called: we-NATO, she said. The best ones were selected to be on the official NATO page.
“All of them are really good,” she said. “We don’t just say what the prime minister or defense minister has said. We pick up a particular thing and we give our own opinion.”
Roccia said she would have never expected to win the competition because she submitted her video the night before the deadline. She said this experience is enriching her personal knowledge and background.
“My personal background is very international because I am half Italian, half Filipino, I lived in Luxembourg, I study in London. Coming here has enhanced it even more because there are people from all over the world,” she said. “It has enhanced my knowledge because I can finally put faces on what I studied.”
Vadims Sondors, 23, is another winner of the competition. He studies international relations in the UK, but he is originally from Latvia.
“My main motivation was to meet new people,” he said. “It’s been exciting so far.”
Sondors said when he submitted his video he was pretty high on the rank. People had to vote for their favorite and he thought his chances where 50-50 percent, he said.
“You always encourage your friends to vote for your video, but you also have to have a good message in order to win,” he said.
Sondors video talked about the importance of connections between nations. The video also expressed his support on trying to eliminate non-democratic regimes.
Jandra Sutton, 22, is an American student in modern British history from Indiana and she was the first one who uploaded her video on the we-NATO website.
“I was terrified to [upload the video] because I waited a few days and none else uploaded anything,” she said. “I was really nervous but I thought it would have been a good opportunity. Usually I am an activist and I tend to be involved in campaigns like Occupy.”
Sutton said she thought it would be a great experience to participate to the NATO events from a different perspective.
“I feel like I am in a weird spot,” she said. “I posted one of my articles online and it was one of the ones that was selected to go on the NATO Facebook page. One of the first questions that was asked was: What about the protesters?”
Some people accused Sutton to do NATO propaganda but she said she was just writing what she observed and experienced from inside.
“I am trying to find a front line between the tendency of doing activism and the reality of the situation,” Sutton said. “You can’t just always say no, no, no. You have to make compromises and I feel like that’s what NATO is attempting to do.”