Changing our Europe in EFYL 2024 / YEAs Meet-Up
May 2, 2024

Changing our Europe in EFYL 2024 / YEAs Meet-Up

Warsaw, Poland, April 2024. The cold weather of Poland in the middle of spring could not stop us from having our best time in the European Forum of Young Leaders (EFYL) 2024. But what was this Forum? 

This year’s Forum of Young Leaders took place in Centrum Kopernik, during the European Youth Week. “Voice your Vision” was the main motto, ushering us to express our dreams, hopes, and ideas for our Europe, especially in light of the upcoming European elections. And it really did deliver to that standard, effectively giving us the tools to reimagine an even more connected and democratic Europe.

The Forum started out with the Inauguration ceremony, where we had the chance to hear wonderful speeches from Polish and Ukrainian politicians, such as the Polish Secretary of State and Minister of Education, Joanna Mucha. The panel discussions were also thought-provoking, because young people active in their field spoke out about our generation’s chance to take part in democracy and shape the world, so that young people and their ideas are being heard by politicians and decision-makers.

With engagement such as educational debates or panel discussions and even workshops with other organizations are of huge necessity as noted in the speech by Marharyta Vorykhava from the Belarusian National Youth Council RADA so that democracy can function more effectively. Lets not forget the great panel discussion where Maria Pia Napoletano, our amazing young european ambassador coordinator, spoke as well about how to become an activist and use our voice and to try and start to take part in local actions to promote democracy even if funding sometimes seems not possible for some events.

Activism is vital for our societies and volunteering and engaging in our communities can only have a positive impact on all members of society. These discussions brought to my mind many ideas and most notably how complex our democratic systems are and how we – as young people – actually have a voice that we need to urgently use in order to create a better Europe. Nevertheless, for me the most fun parts were the workshops after the panels. The first workshop I took part in was all about the concept of active citizenship beyond elections. I had great discussions with

everyone I met, and what really stuck with me was that all citizens can help each other in times of need. For example, we exchanged ideas on how petitions and citizens initiatives can change and bring about something positive. The second session was about the euro-participation and all the opportunities that we have as young european citizens, and indeed I loved the interactiveness of the workshop, especially when, we tried to describe our european values through drawings and also played a game that tested our knowledge on Europe and our institutions (Coming in 3rd in the quiz got me a shiny new water bottle from the EuroDesk, Polska). I would have loved to visit more sessions to learn more on youth leadership and our digital democratic participation, but there is always next year to expand our knowledge even further in this amazing Forum! Until the next international event, I aspire to put all this new knowledge to action in my local community in Greece by organizing activities concerning the YEAs and the EaP countries.

At first, I was very stressed about attending my first international event with the YEAs, but my fears soon vanished as I realized that it was the best decision I could have taken. Complementarity to learning a lot, creating meaningful friendships with other amazing YEAs was an absolute core memory for me (Shoutout to my amazing italian roommate Vittorio, where he had his erasmus in my city in Greece)! My fellow YEAs and friends I made in the Forum brought to me a sense of confidence to be able to spearhead the organization of an event to promote our network and the work that we do, with the goal of bringing eastern partner countries closer to Europe. The friendships between the YEAs seem to be long lasting and the memories unforgettable. I really hope to see all of my YEAs friends soon and hopefully to also organize an event together! On the last day, we did a Meet-Up with the YEAs in the EU/UK chapter, where a brainstorming activity led to an insightful discussion and a fun social media workshop , despite the mounting exhaustion from the previous days. Thus we finally treated ourselves to some amazing Georgian food for a “job-well-done”.

Taking part in EFYL 2024 was actually the best decision! My advice to all those reading this is simple: GO FOR IT! If you know that it will make you step out of your usual comfort zone, just try it. This was a huge life lesson in the most amusing way possible, and I hope to attend and bring more ideas in the next events and meet-ups.

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