YO!Fest: Celebrating 25 Years of the Maastricht Treaty

Lia Touska and Katarzyna “Kasia” Sokolowska, members of the Comité Directeur, talk about the “YO!Fest”, a festival that is going to take place from the 6th until the 8th of February in Sphinxkwartier, as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty. They also tell us why AEGEE is joining the event as partner and how it is contributing.

YO!Fest (Youth Opinion Festival) is the annual, political youth-led festival organised by the European Youth Forum. It is a space for young people to discuss their vision for Europe. This year, the event will be run in partnership with the City of Maastricht and the Province of Limburg and it will represent a key event for the “Europe Calling” celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty.

The event combines political debates, thematic workshops, educational activities, live music and artistic performances, creating a unique and meaningful experience for the young people attending. European decision makers, such as Members of the European Parliament and European Commissioners, will also attend the eventyo3 to discuss the future of Europe with young people.

AEGEE, as a partner organisation of the event, will have two activities run by our members alone. One big activity, “The European House”, will be held together with four other organisations: ESN, WOSM, YEU and IFM-SEI. There will be an area where young people can participate in a quick workshop, discuss with policy makers, relax on puffs or pillows and then leave their feedback in a room designed for this purpose.

In the evening there will also be a concert, so after a whole day full of activities and creative games, there is also a part dedicated for fun.

AEGEE is joining the event as partner, because the aims of the festival are the same as ours as an organisation. “We, our members, are creating a network to have a strong voice and to show that also young people should have an input into politics and the future”, says Kasia. By attending the event, the members ofyo1 the CD would definitely like to show  young people what non-formal education is and how they can get involved, and inspire them to take action. For AEGEE members who will come to Maastricht for the event, it will be very important to see what other organisations do in the same fields in which we are active.

Kasia is a coordinator of the event for AEGEE, so she is responsible to maintain contact between us and the European Youth Forum. Her role is also to cooperate with other NGOs with which we will be running the “European House”.

Instead, Lia has been selected as facilitator to lead three of the YouthUP workshops on some of the six themes of the festival. The day before YO!Fest, she is going to have a one-day training for facilitators provided by experienced trainers. The participants of the workshops “will have the cyo4hance to analyse the current situation, generate creative solutions or strategies to address identified challenges and develop clear proposals for change”.

It looks quite difficult to manage the debate among 3000 people, but Kasia ensured that the preparations for this event started three months ago, so she believes that there will be enough activities and space to hear each participant’s opinion. “There will be interactive debates on topics regarding the past and the present of Europe and a YouthUP plenary debate”, says Lia.

Generally, Maastricht is quite easy to reach. You can find some cheap tickets to Brussels and then we will go there all together, by bus or train. Then, Sphinxkwartier is easy to reach from Maastricht Central Station. There are several buses that stop near the place. Also, you can get there by walking from the city center.

Last year in May, Kasia participated in YO!Fest, which was organised during the European Youth Event in Strasbourg, and she really appreciated it. It is CD approved. If any AEGEE member wants to participate, here is the link to register!

Written by Matteo Lai, AEGEE-Cagliari.