Europe Day in Antwerp

As part of Europe Day 2021, we organised an interactive in-class session to acquaint our students with Jakob Fugger and his relevance in today’s world.

Werner De Smet, German teacher at our school and co-coordinator of the Erasmus+ project, started off this session by making a connection with refugees. The students were prompted to think about the set of problems refugees face when they enter a new country, also touching on the topic of refugee settlement, giving just a glimpse of what Jakob Fugger’s Fuggerei was all about.

Afterwards, two pictures were shown; one of Jeff Bezos and one of Bill Gates. The students were asked whether they know both men and what they have in common, after which it was revealed that their wealth is small beer compared with Jakob Fugger.

Jeff Sandquist, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
JD Lasica from Pleasanton, CA, US, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Next, the students were given a short introduction to Fugger’s commercial success and the importance of the international trading routes in Europe. Not only the reach of his influence was discussed, but also the ironic contrast between ruthless capitalism genuine Catholic beliefs.This allowed for another link with our society: Ramadan. Not only is this a month of spiritual contemplation, but also of tolerance, togetherness, generosity and charity. Although Fugger was a Catholic and not a Muslim, charity was deemed one of the most important pillars. Drawing on this idea, the session ended with a short introduction to the concept of the Fuggerei in Augsburg, elaborating on how Catholic beliefs encouraged Fugger family’s good deeds of charity.

Astrid Foerster, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During this session, the students gained the opportunity to learn a bit more about Jakob Fugger’s achievements and impact on Europe in an interactive way. With references to today’s society, this topic was made more accessible, giving the students the chance to relate the themes to their personal lives.