European Youth Event : Strasbourg 20th and 21st May 2016
Being a Brit not born in Britain oftentimes makes one feel a sense of not belonging to either one’s country of origin, or of the country one has citizenship in, however for me the European Youth Event was an opportunity to reflect on what being part of the EU means to me and to ask myself the question ‘am I European?’.
The European Youth Event (EYE) kick-started for our small group with the opportunity to explore and engage in the different activities that were available – many of us were more than ready to try some of the local food and delicacies that were available at the YO fest and to take part in some of the spontaneous group displays that popped up here and there. All in all our first day, the Friday, was all about settling in to Strasbourg, acclimatizing ourselves to the weather and getting to gripes with the variety of European languages being spoken in the event. The first day really was an indicator of there being much more to experience and learn from our brief time in Strasbourg.
The Saturday of the EYE was one that words fail me to describe, and I must beg the readers patience in any apparent over use of adjectives to describe what some could say was just ‘another day’ in the EYE, but which I would say was the most important and crucial day in the whole plan for the event. The Saturday commenced with us once again having an opportunity to take part in different activities and to also have a chance to take part in different workshops and debates such as the discussion on the TTIP trade deal between Britain and The United States Of America. However what truly stole the show for the whole day was when we were all in the hemicycle inside the European Parliament and were given the chance to all discuss and argue the different viewpoints we had on the issues of migration across Europe and the viable ways in which Europe as a united force could possibly manage the refugee crisis that is currently affecting all countries in the EU.
What I found amazing about our time in the hemicycle was the sense of togetherness and belonging I felt whilst I was there, paying close attention to the back and forth between the different opinions that many of the young people from different countries had. Up until this pivotal point I still had feelings of just being merely ‘British’ but after seeing the enthusiasm and interest all my fellow European youths had for such a complicated issue, I truly felt that despite all our differences, there are many similarities in terms of hopes and wishes for our individual European countries that truly tie all of us in the EU together.
Looking back on the whole event, whilst in the comfort of my train seat, I feel a sense of sadness and reluctance to leave an event that has made me more aware of a number of issues faced by all Europeans, and a part of me hopes I will not return to Britain only to look upon many international and European issues from a solely British point of View. Written by Precious Otor
Other comments by young people who went on the trip.
One of the most satisfying parts of the experience as a whole was an emotional heated debate on discussing our fellow human beings otherwise known as refugees in their migration across the universe workshop in the parliamentary room. – Gulshan Akhtar
This was by far the best experience I’ve had, it really made me feel as though young people were being listened too. It was fantastic to take part in debates about hugely important topics such as the TTIP and migration. I hope that any future groups going get as much if not more than we did, out of the trip. – Jake Pettman
Altogether experiencing the vast different cultures and meeting people from all over Europe was liberating, the unity, love and compassion which was shared between one another was truly inspiring. The experience will remain with me for the rest of my life – Dylan Matten
I have been so excited about having the opportunity to go to Strasbourg with an amazing team of people. The expectations become reality and were even better than I thought! I was able to overcome lots of fears especially to do with trains and the Eurostar. The incredible team of workers helped me through it all and I felt so supported and safe. I felt so happy to be giving workshops to other young people around Europe and hearing their experiences with mental health and what their countries do. I have grown as a person and come out the other side with strong friendships and more confidence to move forward in my life. This trip has been a massive eye opener to me, personally proving that I can do things I never thought I could. – Lily Parsons
I’ve enjoyed having a new experience traveling by Eurostar to an amazing location. Hearing people’s views on the latest topics and obstacles that young people are facing has been truly enlightening. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share the experience with. – Naima Ozbek
Creating a positive environment for everybody in order to promote better sustainable development across economic, social and political Europeans is important because we all have to band together. The European Youth Event has taught me that my voice does matter ever if I am in a minority. I lead the afternoon sessions of the stress busters workshop and got to meet some of the other Europeans who took part in the sessions. I learned that in the Eastern European countries such as Slovenia, Lithuania and Macedonia there are more pressures surrounding employment and time management whereas in Western European countries like Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden the pressures and stressors are surrounding topics such as University and money. I delivered to them some techniques to help them deal with stress that I myself have found useful. Being a young person with Autism, I found it hard to speak to people in the beginning but after I completed the TTIP debate I gained more confidence because I knew that it’s okay to speak up and stand up for what you believe in. I thought that the whole experience has inspired me to take a more active role in motivational speaking and pursue my motivational speaking career in order to achieve a better Europe for everybody, especially those with learning disabilities such as autism. Overall, the whole trip was awe inspiring and a great confidence booster. – Claudia Van-Nimwegen
My experience of the EYE was that it was interesting to see how other countries and cultures deal with the different issues such as refugees and mental health this helped to broaden my views on these issues. The Highlight of the trip for me was being able to meet people from different backgrounds and being able to see the city of Strasbourg. – Chris Edwards
From the weekend to the Eye event I have gained more independence and confidence for traveling and speaking to people, thus has helped with my college and hopefully with public speaking.
From the weekend I have gained more experience and knowledge around refugees and what they have to go through and I have also gained confidence while presenting our own workshops, I thought the EYE event was an amazing experience and something that I would love to participate in again as it was an experience I would love to go again. – Abbie
Watch the event in photos
YO!Fest after the event