On a sunny April morning, three Young European Ambassadors from Armenia landed in Katowice, a small youth city in Poland to discover the wonders of Polish cuisine, culture and, more importantly, to take part in the European Forum for Young Leaders 2022. The trip was full of exciting discoveries, cultural explorations and exchange of inspiring and educational ideas and experiences. Alisa, Mariam and Kristina – YEAs selected to represent Armenia at the forum – share their experience from their trip to Poland and participation at the forum.
The reason for deciding to take part in the Forum was the possibility of enriching my practical skills for youth activism to foster democracy building during these challenging times by exchanging my experience of promoting inclusion and diversity with my peers from the European Union, Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Caucasus. Let me also point out that after the COVID-19 pandemic, that was my first trip to Europe, my first chance to communicate with more than 200 people with diverse backgrounds and similar goals – that was why I was so thrilled to represent the YEAs network during the event. But getting that unique opportunity to participate in the 14th edition of the European Economic Congress – the largest business event in Central Europe, accompanied by debates, presentations and meetings with a group of role-models, eminent pundits, practitioners, and decision-makers was an opinion-forming and life-changing experience.
I truly enjoyed spending five days in the lively capital city of the Silesian Voivodeship, and I loved everything there – from the most delicious Polish food, beautiful old buildings that looked like fairytale castles, urban parks with large green spaces, to the rainy but peaceful mornings.
My first international journey as a Young European Ambassador started in the southern part of Poland, in Katowice from 24-27 April. The Forum of Young European Leaders gathered under one roof many young people to voice their visions and to shape the future of Europe. This trip was my first meeting with Europe and it became possible due to YEAs network. Travelling from a small mountainous country to reach Katowice took us two airplanes. From the very start, this city attracted us with its architecture and its rhythm. Old constructions alongside modern buildings, rainy days, tasty ice creams will forever stay in my mind!
Participating in the forum was a great experience for me not only because I was for the first time abroad, but also because of the opportunity to reflect on today’s challenging times and find ways of more solidarity to build a better world. Those four days were full of panel discussions, thematic sessions on various topics, during which we were able to ask questions, establish new contacts and recognise each other better. The forum was vital for me, giving me new energy to work and act on. Each participant made the forum unique with their presence, special stories and ideas. I am forever thankful for giving me this chance to represent Armenia and to discover a part of Europe!
After spending the last two years in lockdown, day-dreaming about travelling to Europe and meeting an international young community in-person, I finally had a chance to travel to Poland with the help of the EU Neighbours east project. I applied for the forum with the hope to meet other YEAs, reflect on the current political situation, and get armed with insightful ideas for bringing change to Armenia and Europe. All of my expectations for the event were exceeded, and I had a unique and memorable five-day trip to Katowice.
This was the first year that the forum was organised accompanying the European Economic Congress, and it was a great practice to engage international youngsters in the Congress. We spent the whole first day at the site, visiting the booths represented by various Polish organisations, and attending the sessions and panels discussing the future of European youth cooperation. The next two days we spent on the campus of the University of Silesia, engaging in small discussions and larger panels throughout the day. We also had a fun team building activity and an exclusive concert by the Etnos Ensemble.
Luckily, in the evenings we had a chance to roam around the city and discover its architectural diversity. Katowice is a welcoming and friendly city with a lot of national restaurants and pubs that offer friendly service and delicious food. Besides, the city was relatively small and everything was located close by, so we had a chance to visit all the sights on foot. One of the highlights of the trip, besides the forum and meeting our network, was a visit to the Silesian Museum, a regional museum showcasing the impressive heritage of Silesia – a historical region of Central Europe within Poland.
Overall, this was an amazing opportunity to make the trip not only fun and enjoyable, but also informative and practical. We highly appreciate the support from all the organizers and the EU Neighbours east for making this possible.
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