A large European event took place in May this year. No, it’s not the Eurovision Song Contest I’m talking about, it’s the European Youth Event – EYE 2016.
The European Youth Event is an event organised by the European Parliament and the European Youth Forum with the aim of bringing together young people all over Europe to discuss challenges they are facing and suggest solutions and ideas with the members of the European Parliament (MEPs). This year, the event took place on the 20th and 21st of May in Strasbourg.
Just like 2 years ago, EFIL was present with a group of participants from different European countries. This year, the prep-team (Elisa Briga, Alexandra Ruivo Cordeiroand Stasha Stojkov), organized 3 different activities aimed at drawing attention to the issues relevant for the work of AFS. Vica Bedo also helped in the preparations but unfortunately could not attend the event.
The 22 participants of the EFIL group attended workshops, panel discussions and simulations, both in the building of the European Parliament and outside of it. Activities in the Parliament were mostly organised and coordinated by the Parliament itself, whereas things happening in the YO! Village outside of the building were youth-led. The activities were thematically organized in 5 categories: War and Peace, Apathy or Participation, Youth Unemployment, Tomorrow World of Work and Sustainability addressing the needs of the society we live in today.
Also EFIL organized some activities, sometimes done in cooperation with other youth organisations, and sometimes by the prep-team and the EFIL participants together. Peace me in was a simulation on conflict resolution and the role our identities play in conflict situations took place in the War and Peace Hub and was done by EFIL and YEU. Another EFIL activity, Discover your community and change it, was an ongoing activity aimed at empowering students to be change makers in their own community and was facilitated by the prep-team and the participants together. Finally, a roundtable discussion dedicated to the recognition of the year abroad gathered MEPs and other relevant stakeholders was facilitated by Elisa Briga from the EFIL office. Also, the EFIL group was the initiator of great energizers in front of the Peace Hub, involving all passers by and many other youth organisations
Some EYE impressions from the EFIL group:
I appreciated so much participating in the EYE 2016 not only because I would love to work in diplomacy one day but also because we were faced to so many different people there representing numerous organizations. It was extremaly inspiring and worth going to. Small talks turned out to be as important as activities and discussions at the auditorium. Given the number of participants we still believe we all together can make a change. Therefore it is not a known event. A lot of young people have never even heard about it…
The EYE made me more European if possible. It made me realised that even though we are different, we have a lot in common and that we should use all our power to be better together instead of tearing a common path apart.
The EFIL group at EYE made me feel in a big family because, despite the huge event and the different perspectives that I met, I felt we shared common experiences and common goals, not just in the AFS bubble but in something bigger as the “European experience” is.
I felt really inspired. So many young people talking about important matters and sharing their ideas.
EYE was a real EYE-opener for me, as it showed how important collaboration between countries in Europe is. At the same time, the EYE also showed that we cannot take good relations between countries and cultures for granted.
I had a great time at the EYE. I met incredible people and found out I had a lot in common with them. We were all looking for a way to make some changes around us, to make the world a little bit better, and we left thinking that there is always something to do, we just have to keep active and to act local in order to really make a difference to someone.
I just can’t express the full gratitude I feel about my participation of the EYE 2016, because I had a lots of fun while having wondrous insights into the mechanisms of the European Union. I came to understand that the key to peace and a prosperous future (in economical and political ways) is friendship and dialogue.
It was an eye opening experience. I learned so much from the others and also from workshops. For the first time in my life I saw myself and identified as an European. All the workshops made me realize how lucky I am to be part of what was happening. The last day, together with my group, made me think about how mind opened I started to see the world and to understand it. It was a wonderful experience. I hope I will get the chance to come again next year.