Last Y Vote 2014 convention in the EU’s heart

By | May 22, 2014 at 12:27 pm | European Events | Tags: , , , , ,

After eight successful Y Vote conventions all around Europe, finally the time came to gather for one last meet up – and what place would be more suitable for this than Brussels?

By this time all AEGEEans probably know how it goes: 40 young people, finding time and motivation, came together with the desire to learn more, share their views and opinions, discuss hot topics and exchange experiences, with a few Belgian beers on top of it this time.

Maybe the fact that this was the last convention made us a very active and ambitious group of people. The atmosphere was always exhilarating and saturated with fresh ideas, orchestrated by excellent trainers who led inspiring sessions and workshops. We, the lucky participants, were pampered by great sunny weather and had an important task ahead of us: we had to go through all the recommendations that participants from previous conventions had been working on, and try to connect, transform, enhance and further incorporate them into the Student Agenda for Europe. Tough and mind challenging!

But wait a second: let’s first remind ourselves the previous Y Vote 2014 conventions.
It all started with the kick off convention in Valladolid: “Ignite the youth spark!”, followed by: “Bridging the EU democratic gap” – Las Palmas, “Youth unemployment” – Agrigento, “Austerity vs. Solidarity” – Berlin, “Gender equality” – Paris, “The role of the EU in the world” – Vienna, “Education, research and mobility” – Krakow and “Pluralism of media” – Cluj-Napoca.  And finally, the Brussels convention on the topic “More Europe, but which Europe?”. Want to know more about what made this last convention so special? Read on about the highlights!

A convention in the heart of the EU

Not only were we able to experience the “EU capital lifestyle”, but we also had a privilege to hold our debates in the European Parliament. First, the traditional debate with Members of Parliament(MEPs) was organized, followed by a discussion with NGOs(Non-governamental organizations),  who presented different innovative forms of democratic participation. Having discussions in the place where much of the decisions that affect our daily lives are made left a big impression on all of us, because it felt more realistic and transparent this way.

Education as a key matter
Although during these five days we discussed many different topics, it seems that we always returned to one subject – education. During the convention, a lot of problems about the current  education systems were identified and addressed.

According to Kostas Tsole (participant from AEGEE-Aachen), some of the problems that seem to reappear in our European society (e.g. lack of solidarity and a selfish approach towards solving problems in a strongly interdependent society and economy), might be due to education and the way we were “shaped” to think, accept and process information. Next to this, Régis Dumoulin (participant from AEGEE-Brussel/Bruxelles), stated that through education, which is expected to provide us with the right tools to be able to make the right choices, truly responsible citizens are being raised. The key is to teach “how” to think, rather than “what” to think.

It is important to underline that the concept of education was seen as the starting point to reshape our society in several conventions, even without consulting the drafts made during the “Education, research and mobility” convention.

One of the conclusions we think is vital to spread around our network is certainly the idea of “proactivity”. We include the definition of this term below and invite all of you to think about it!

PROACTIVE: (Of a person or action) creating or controlling a situation rather than just responding to it after it has happened.

Empowering young people: YOU(th) got the power!
This event definitely helped all of us to change the image of the community we live in. For some, it renewed their faith in Europe or ignited their enthusiasm again. For others, change came from within: it was truly astonishing to see how learning from others and simply exchanging helps you grow as a person. As Mauro Bellani (AEGEE-Bergamo) states, this convention prompted personal development of all of us: “I’m impressed how the Y Vote conference can change yourself! After the conference you feel more “complete”. If earlier your idea about your status as European citizen was quite unclear and confusing, after meeting new people you can learn how to add value to your opinion and what you can do to start being and remain active.”

In addition, all the workshops were great facilitators that allowed us to make our own conclusions about what “our” Europe needs. Furthermore, reading and revising the existing recommendations, made us take a step back, look at the results of all earlier Y Vote 2014 conventions and shape one final outcome. “Having those recommendations in my hands and knowing that actual policy-makers would read them made me feel empowered! And that is not an easy-accessible feeling”, says Alba Perez Barrera (AEGEE-Valladolid), although we are sure this feeling was widespread amongst all of us!

Conclusion(s)?
A lot of them! But here are the most interesting ones, ranging from very concrete to more abstract.

This convention gave us the opportunity to get information about the EP Elections in a very accessible way, through some attractive tools to play around with, such as the VoteWatch (www.votewatch.eu/), MyVote (https://www.myvote2014.eu/) and a very interesting online debating platform which has been getting a lot of attention from MEPs (www.debatingeurope.eu/), as Juan Vallés (AEGEE-Zaragoza) points out.

For Tessa Speelman (AEGEE-Utrecht), this experience was an eye-opener: it made her realise that we all have different views on the EU and its future, but we share common values and ideas. Our future is in Europe and we, youth, should never stop dreaming, participating and influencing the European decision-making.

After this final convention, we all went back home, glad for having taken part in it, and extremely happy to have met such amazing people. Because, at the end of the day, it is always about the people you meet. And this, we believe, is one of the strongest messages of AEGEE.

What are the next steps?
The EYE 2014 event was held  in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, gathering more than 10 000 young people concerned about the European Union. And, after a tour bus in the UK, the Y Vote 2014 team is leading another tour in beautiful Spain! Stay tuned, follow daily news through the Facebook page and don’t forget to vote – starting from today.

Follow daily news through Y Vote 2014 Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/YVote2014?fref=ts

Written by Hana Hudak (AEGEE-Paris) and Tessa Speelman (AEGEE-Utrecht)


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