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IEGS went to Leipzig for the 80th International Session of EYP!
This week IEGS will be hosting the National Session of the EYP, but let's take a look back following their journey from Leipzig for the International Session!
Whenever someone asks me to explain what the European Youth Parliament is, I always find myself having a hard time to get it down in only a few sentences. Where do I start? How am I supposed to summarize all the experiences, challenges, laughs, new thoughts, faces and memories that each new session of EYP brings with it? Due to this it is often the case that when returning back from a session, many of us EYP’ers simply reply with something like “Well, it’s like debate”. But the truth is that EYP is so much more than just a competition, about so much more than trying to be the strongest speaker or impressing the judges. At least for me, EYP is at it’s core about meeting other young people from all around Europe who despite coming from different backgrounds, cultures and traditions all collect somewhere in Europe because of a common interest for European politics and the global society we live in.
The European Youth Parliament was first founded in 1987, and is an organization that aims to act as a forum for young European citizens to come together and share a common interest for European issues, to promote an international understanding and encourage young Europeans to become active citizens in our society. In the EYP, over 39 countries are represented and although each country has it’s own offices and sessions, international sessions are organized twice a year where delegates from all around Europe come together. This year, the international session took place in the city of Leipzig in Germany and so delegates from IEGS and Kungsholmen Gymnasium participated as representatives of the Swedish delegation.
During the session, all delegates are divided into different committees with people from at least 14 different countries in each committee. These are committees such as Committee on Human Rights (DROI), Committee on Foreign affairs (AFET), Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) and many more. At the beginning of the ten-day session, each committee is given a topic that presents a problem that the EU is currently facing, and has as its task to provide a solution to the issue. When all solutions have been prepared they are collected together into a resolution booklet. Then during the final days of the session all delegates gather in the General Assembly where each resolution is thoroughly debated and discussed before being voted through or not. Celebrating the recent 25 year anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the theme of this session was “Tearing down walls and setting new stones”, and so the topics were all centered around fundamental human rights and things such as statelessness within Europe, the discrimination of minorities, good governance principles in battling corruption, women rights and many more. All in all, it was one of the most interesting, challenging and educating things I have ever done.
But, it does not do the EYP justice to only write about the debates, discussions and academic work. Because apart from remembering all the intense discussions, engaging and sometimes infuriating debates along with nerve wracking speeches and brilliant arguments, some of the best memories I take home with me are those created outside the debate room. Years from now, I will look back and remember things like sitting in a coffee shop trying to learn Greek along with people from twenty different countries, or staying up at night listening to Armenian hip hop and dancing with the Irish delegation, or watching my roommates roll over with laughter after having shown them how Swedes dance at Midsummer celebrations. It may sound like a cliché, but to me the European Youth Parliament truly encompasses what is meant by the EU’s motto “United in Diversity.” We are 300 young Europeans who speak different languages, come from different backgrounds and have different opinions and political standpoints. Yet, when we come together like this we laugh together have weird inside jokes, we stress out together and stay up all night writing speeches, and above all we learn from each other. And so when the session is over and we all go back to our normal lives things will be the same when we get back, but we all come back a little different, a little more open minded and a little more knowledgeable about this multicultural and dynamic Europe we live in. And that is why the EYP means so much to me, and why all EYP’ers are familiar with the term “EYP- post depression”. We learn, we challenge ourselves and we come together and make friends from all over Europe, creating truly unforgettable and extraordinary memories.