Report of European Youth Event, 1-2 June, Strasbourg (France)
By Milan Maushart
When I arrived in the Naturefriends house of Strasbourg in the evening of Thursday 31st of May, I didn’t know what to expect from the European Youth Event (EYE) – or what it actually was – except that more than 9000 young were coming from all around Europe to Strasbourg. Of course, I have read all the info sheets and I knew which tasks we had to help IYNF with. Still, I was unclear about the event and its purpose.
Early in the morning, I went to the event with increasing curiosity. After the necessary security checks, I could choose between visiting the European Parliament or exploring the YO!Fest in its premises which included two stages and several hubs. Each hub was dedicated to a certain topic. For example, the IYNF team was responsible together with other sustainable organisations of the hub “Protecting the planet”, where we also delivered two workshops.
I decided to dive into several workshops in different hubs and I slowly started to understand the idea behind the EYE. I came across with different topics such as the chain of a coffee production, the importance of the UN Environmental Sustainability Goals, among other topics. But most importantly, I exchanged ideas with other young Europeans. It was not that kind of superficial exchange about the benefits of the EU and European Identity. It was rather about tackling important issues and solving urgent problems inside and outside the EU.
When it comes to the IYNF’s contribution to the EYE, we facilitated workshops based on the Green Toolbox and Ecomaps. The first one dealing with how to organise a sustainable event and for the second one, we played the role game ‘The ethical consumer’, raising awareness about consumption. Next to that, we also showcased the Borderland Exhibition – about the life of many refugees who are stranded in the Western Balkans – and talked about #renewJobs”, this time inside the European Parliament – aimed to inform people about job possibilities in the Renewable energy sector. All in all, it was IYNF at its best, promoting social solidarity, environmental sustainability and non-formal education.
Meanwhile, many people and several organizations gathered in the several hubs to discuss, and share their thoughts and ideals, which resulted in a critical exchange and development of mutual ideas. Also, in the Parliament the ongoing discussions with the Members of the European Parliament were a unique opportunity to learn how a parliament works and how we can influence the European Institutions. This gives me a better understanding of the pros and cons of EU’s decision-making processes.
By the end of the weekend, I realized that attending the EYE was a very empowering experience and I felt I wanted to be part of a change. “Youth Empowerment” is something many organisations try to achieve and it happened to me during the European Youth Event.