European Youth Event 2021: How did it happen in-person and online?
STRASBOURG, FRANCE, (Oct. 4 – 9) – The European Youth Event (the EYE) 2021 took place in the European Parliament. The European Parliament initiated and has been hosting the event since 2014. The event aims to gather young people together and stimulate active citizenship amongst European youth. Youth aged 16-30 can take part in discussions with officials, politicians, and professionals on topics such as disinformation, discrimination, climate change, future of work, etc. In addition, the EYE provides an opportunity for young Europeans to raise questions regarding important issues and make their voices heard. The EYE 2021 has been a special edition of the event this year as it was held both online and in-person sessions with the tagline “The future is ours”. Here, Young European Ambassadors from Ukraine will share their experiences of participating in the EYE 2021 – Bohdana Mysyk about participating in the event in person and Vladyslava Vertogradska about participating in the event online.
Bohdana Mysyk is a Ukrainian Young European Ambassador since 2019. She is a student at the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (Political Science), a student at Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University (Media Communication), and an exchange student at the University of Helsinki. This year, she has participated in the EYE in person, so she had a chance to travel to Strasbourg, France. “The city was great. It was my first time in Strasbourg, so obviously a lot of emotions and positive impressions”, Bohdana shared. After arriving in the city, the first thing that she did was go to an Anticafe, where she tasted the “best latte in her life”. The place later was used for filming the YEAs’ live streams for the event. “The architecture is impressive. I heard comments that Lviv looks a bit like France, and it probably does. Though, all European cities kinda remind one another”, Bohdana pointed out.
Entering European Parliament was the most confusing part of Bohdana’s experience with the EYE: “It was hard to navigate there, figure out where is what, and how to get to a certain location. But the building itself looked impressive”. The first part of the EYE 2021 was the COVID-19 check and accreditation that took about 3 or 4 hours on the first day. “Alongside us, there were hundreds of other young Europeans who mostly came in their own groups as delegates of some youth organizations, but there were individual participants as well”, said Bohdana. She mentioned that due to COVID-19 restrictions and limitations on the number of people in the room, she could not participate in all of the sessions that she would like to. However, the Ukrainian Young European Ambassador had a chance to be present at the most important one for her – Q&A with Oleh Sentsov, Sakharov prize laureate, a Ukrainian filmmaker who was a Russian political prisoner for 5 years and got out partially thanks to international support. “That was a truly inspiring, incredible session that finished with people clapping for like 5 minutes straight. I am sure it touched the hearts of many participants there”, she continued.
One of the main takeaways from the event that Bohdana tackled during a Facebook live stream with Alexandru on the first day of the EYE 2021 was that “we all are Europeans, and we should stay together to tackle common challenges”. Another takeaway for Bohdana was a changed perception of the YEAs initiative: “Before, the initiative for me only meant a Ukrainian team, and now all the EaP countries and the EU teams are a part of it in my head. So the initiative is bigger than just a Ukrainian team; we all are a part of something truly global and uniting”.
Vladyslava Vertogradska is a Ukrainian Young European Ambassador from May 2021. She is a student at LCC International University (Contemporary Communication). This year, she has participated in the EYE online from the comfort of her own home in Ukraine. “When I first heard about the event from Liliia Antoniuk, the YEAs in Ukraine National Coordinator, I knew that I had to register immediately”, she explained.
Since Vladyslava was participating online, she had to register on the online platform ahead of time and pick the sessions she would join in as the space was also limited. “I liked that I had to create a full profile on the website, and then I could do a bit of networking with adding other people to my contacts too”, Vladyslava implied. Throughout the next few days, she had a chance to participate in online and hybrid versions of different events. “I am used to attending events online, but when I joined the hybrid version and saw the other YEAs in the European Parliament participating in discussions, I wished that I would have a chance actually to attend it in-person”, she replied.
The key takeaways from the event for Vladyslava were from the session about youth ideas and young people’s participation in the future. “Previously, as a YEA, I contributed a potential idea as part of the YouthIdeas initiative, and I was excited to know that people want to hear ideas from youth. Moreover, to try to implement them”, she noted. In general, Vladyslava enjoyed participating in different sessions, especially those that were interactive: “In the House of European History session about social media and communication, it was interesting to interact with people from different countries directly”. Just like Bohdana, during the event, Vladyslava felt that she was part of something big: “It was incredible to see my fellow teammates take part in discussions with the other YEAs, and seeing them address important issues together was so powerful”.
Overall, both versions of the EYE 2021 (either in-person or online) were an incredible experience for all the participants. The aim of the event was succeeded with many young people participating in discussions about significant challenges and making their youth voices heard. Bohdana had a chance to fly to France and participate in events with the fellow YEAs in-person, while Vladyslava enjoyed the online experience from her home and was able to notice all of the activities of her fellow teammates.
Even if some youngsters did not have a chance to participate in the EYE 2021, some of the sessions were recorded and are available to watch on the platform. So, do not waste your time and check them right now here.
This website is managed by the EU-funded Regional Communication Programme for the Eastern Neighbourhood ('EU NEIGHBOURS east’), which complements and supports the communication of the Delegations of the European Union in the Eastern partner countries, and works under the guidance of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and the European External Action Service. EU NEIGHBOURS east is implemented by a B&S Europe-led consortium. It is part of the larger Neighbourhood Communication Programme (2020-2024) for the EU's Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood, which also includes 'EU NEIGHBOURS south’ project that runs the EU Neighbours portal.