Blog by Sanja Cancar 

This year from 20-21 May the European Parliament in Strasbourg opened its doors once again to 7500 young people from all around Europe for the European Youth Event (EYE) and the Yo!Fest. At the heart of the European democracy the participants had the unique opportunity to present, discuss and develop new ideas for Europe.

More than 150 activities were organised for young people by young people. As a YO!Fest partner the European Youth Award (EYA) did not only join the EYE & Yo!Fest, but also contributed in organizing activities that reflected this year’s motto “Together we can make a change”. The 12 EYA Ambassadors represented Europe’s unique pan-European contest for digital entrepreneurs improving society.

But what is the EYE?

The idea behind the European Youth Event is to offer young people the opportunity to experience politics and decision-making first hand. It is a fantastic way to exchange ideas and perspectives on nowadays challenges.

You could engage in workshops, debates and many other activities with your peers and decision-makers and at the same time experience the rich cultural diversity within the European Union through various artistic performances and spectacles. Politicians, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, academics and other experts came to listen to the youth’s ideas and join the fruitful discussion.

People from all backgrounds and all over European were present to participate in:

  • political debates, interactive exchanges and workshops
  • live music, theatre, dance and circus performances
  • games and educational activities

This year’s motto “Together we can make a change” brought together young people with interest in European politics and the European Parliament as an exciting, multilingual institution to share their ideas and views regarding Europe’s future and its political development.

The overwhelming wide variety of activities focused on five main themes:

  • War and Peace: Perspectives for a Peaceful Planet
  • Apathy or Participation: Agenda for a Vibrant Democracy
  • Exclusion or Access: Crackdown on Youth Unemployment
  • Stagnation or Innovation: Tomorrow’s World of Work
  • Collapse or Success: New Ways for a Sustainable Europe

The aim of this major gathering is to stimulate debate with and among the young citizens, allowing them to exchange ideas and perspectives based those key themes. And while doing so to develop innovative solutions to crucial questions for the future.

What did the EYA do there?

The European Youth Award (EYA) is a unique pan-European contest for digital entrepreneurs improving society and was therefore appropriately based at the “Stagnation and Innovation” hub. The 12 EYA Ambassadors represented the contest truly as one of Europe’s most creative and vibrant networks and promoted social entrepreneurship.

They let the creativity sparks fly at the “Entrepreneurial Campfire” and inspired more than 150 workshop participants with their unique success stories. At the interactive session you could find out more about what life as an entrepreneur is like, how it feels to start your own company, what mistakes you can learn from, what motivates and drives young entrepreneurs…

 

For instance Mathias Haas shared his personal “Supersocial” story. He founded his own consulting agency after high school and rocks the world of social media since then. Now he gives outstanding workshops on social media marketing all over the globe.

Founder and owner of the law education NGO Nomcentar Dušica Biroljević creates projects using digital technologies and innovation for the social good. She wants to improve awareness and knowledge in the field of Law and nomotechnical activities, education and publishing.

Jindřich Fialka is the founder of the company Contiqua. The idea behind his firm is to use leftover materials from industrial production and give them a new lease of life by designing products from what would normally be thrown away. The organisation brings together a team of designers with a fresh take on industrial waste. Jindřich gave an insight how he started, what obstacles he faced and how he and his team continue to adapt to new challenges.

Ana Alibegova talked passionately about the initiative Mladiinfo International where she focusses on youth information, education, new media, youth empowerment, intercultural dialogue and social entrepreneurship. The platform helps young people fulfil their educational potential. Mladiinfo grew from a web-page intended to help people with fewer opportunities to get access to free educational and career opportunities to a European wide network with offices in 9 countries.

As a social entrepreneur from the Czech Republic Tereza Jurecková provides city tours guided by homeless people. She is the co-founder and director of the amazing project Pragulic, which won several international prizes. With this initiative homeless people in the Czech capital raise awareness of the hardship of life on the streets while giving historical facts and showing their side of the city.

Tudor Mihailescu is the co-founder of GovFaces – a social network for politics that connects people and politicians on burning issues. The platform offers the opportunity to interact directly with officials and to ask questions, make proposals and share ideas.

The EYA also ran two speed-networking sessions called “Make a friend in one minute” and “Have a coffee with”. YO!Fest participants could make valuable contacts and chat with EYA ambassadors ready to answer each and every question.

All organised workshops were met with great feedback from the participants.

What else is there to say?

All in all it was amazing to experience this vibrant political youth festival with high-level political debates, interactive workshops and artistic performances in a unique atmosphere. If you are interested in politics, youth issues, art and meeting new, interesting people from all over Europe – grab the opportunity and contribute to shaping the future of the EU!

Watch the video:

European Youth Event 2016 from Emilia Kwiatkowska-van Dijk on Vimeo.