Blog: A day to remember: YEAs celebrate Martisor and brainstorm future plans.
March 27, 2023

Blog: A day to remember: YEAs celebrate Martisor and brainstorm future plans.

On 4 March this year, 20 Young European Ambassadors (YEAs) from Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, the UK and the EU gathered at the London Welsh Centre. We were eager to meet other individuals who had either come from or moved to the UK. Some of us came here many years ago, others had been in the UK for just a few weeks. But we all gathered with the same goals in mind: to connect in person, brainstorm ideas for future collaboration, and draft plans on how we can further educate people in the UK about the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries.

Getting started…

We started the day with a welcome speech and an overview of the busy schedule ahead. We began with some icebreaker activities to get to know each other. While the question, ‘if you had the chance to join any band of your choice, which would you choose?’ may not be considered essential to the future of EU relations, it was a quick way to locate common ground, with conversations drifting off into our experiences of living in the United Kingdom. Following this, a presentation about the EaP and EU Neighbours East sparked immediate interest amongst YEAs. For those of us who had only joined the organisation in the past year, it was encouraging to learn about the range of different opportunities and activities we could engage in as YEAs.

The next activity was a creative one: to create a poster depicting important facts about the places we’re from. While artistic abilities within the group were varied, the presentations themselves were all fascinating and sparked the loveliest atmosphere, where all of us were eager to learn more. For example, we discovered that one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite wines was produced in Moldova, that the Ukrainian constitution of 1710 was the first of its kind, and that we all suddenly craved one of the Adjarian khachapuri – mentioned by Georgian YEAs in their presentation. And in case you are wondering, it’s fluffy white bread stuffed with cheese and with a runny egg in the middle!

It was also interesting to learn about the work of the EU Neighbours East audiovisual team,  which  includes designing and maintaining the aesthetically pleasing website you are currently reading this blog post from. We discused how the seemingly simple act of photography involves multiple decisions and reflections on what you are actually trying to capture. The fact that the audio-visual team, despite all their experience, nevertheless asked us for feedback and suggestions as to how they might improve, demonstrated their willingness to constantly develop and adapt within social media’s dynamic environment. It was also inspiring to understand their commitment to collaborating with diverse groups of people from all across the EU and EaP.

Post-pizza deliberations

Before we delved into an action-packed afternoon, we were treated to some delicious pizza, giving us a chance to socialise and network.

Three of the Moldovan YEAs then helped us welcome in the spring by making our own Mărțișor decorations. These are part of a Moldovan and Romanian tradition involving tying red and white threads together and sometimes attaching small gifts or trinkets to them.  The items are then gifted to loved ones as a display of respect and affection.  It was great to see everyone get creative in making their Mărțișor ornaments!

After getting our creative juices flowing, it was time to start brainstorming the activities we wanted to work on in the UK. There were several things we had to consider such as partnerships, what groups we wanted to reach out to, and what kinds of outputs would most benefit local communities in the UK. Ideas ranged from workshops on media literacy, to setting up an EaP version of a model European Parliament. We all had one thing at the core of our thinking: how do we raise awareness about the Eastern Partnership among British youth in the most effective and engaging way?

A productive session of brainstorming and strategising was followed by a Georgian dance lesson, led by Tamar, one of the  YEAs. Though we weren’t quite ready to attempt some of the tumbles and turns Georgian dances are well known for, it was a brilliant way to gain insights into Georgian culture.

By the end of the day it was clear to all of us that this was merely the beginning of a flourishing of YEA activity in the UK. Being able to bring together youth from the UK, EU, and EaP countries is a testament to the strength of the YEA initiative.

Despite being from different countries, the culturally diverse setting of London (including the London Welsh Centre!) provided the perfect environment to learn more about our cultures, share our stories together, cultivate ideas, and set out our goals for future collaboration.

A major thank you to the EU/UK Coordination Team for organising the meet-up event, for bringing us together from all parts of the UK and allowing us the space to develop friendships and aspirations which will no doubt have a lasting impact on us and the future of YEA activity in the UK.

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