This week, the European Youth Parliament Germany was invited to the Hans-Erlwein-Gymnasium in Dresden, my hometown. And as I am currently living here, I gladly joined them. We organised a workshop to introduce the basics about the EU and getting first hand experiences in parliamentarian discussions.
Regularly this seconday school organises a so called ‘Day of tolerance’ once a year to introduce several topics of interest and importance that usually don’t find their place in the regular curriculum. They invite speaker, initiative and organisations who prepare workshops, giving the students a learning experience different from the regular lessons.
The European Youth Parliament (EYP), where I am a member for around 10 years already, is one of Europe’s biggest platforms for young people to experience European politics and intercultural exchange. Besides organising bigger events, the German association is also actively going to schools to deliver ‘Europe in a nutshell’ activities.
In the beginning, Sebastian Fischer, a young Member of the Parliament of Saxony, introduced his perspectives on Europe. Wrapping it into the practical implications it had for him being a craftsman, he tried to make Europe more tasteful by connecting his experiences with intercultural encounters he had in France, Norway and Switzerland, showing that Europe is much more than what meets the eye.
For the four hours we had we kicked off with a little presentation about the basic ideas, historical steps and institutions of the European Union, to give them a wider understanding what Europe means for their every day life. As our 30 participants were usually attending grades 10 to 12 we skipped the hard facts, mainly about the historical developments, and focused on those advantages they have gained from the unification process.
Afterwards we continued with a small parliamentary simulation. Split in two groups, the participants had the chance to choose between two topics they would like to debate on: Increasing the involvement of young people into European decision making processes and How the EU should deal with increasing eurocritical movements to ensure future solidarity. The smaller groups had time to discuss the issues at stake, formulate findings and propose measure that should be taken by political actors on different levels.
Coming together in their bigger groups, the students afterwards had to present and defend their arguments which were voted upon by everyone afterwards. We concluded the whole workshop with a little round of feedback and an introduction of the possibilities EYP has to offer.