After flying form Belfast-Brussels, Brussels-Budapest, then sitting on a coach for three hours, I finally arrived in Kosice somewhere around 2am on Monday morning. As you can imagine I swiftly got into bed and fell asleep. On the Monday I had some time in the morning (while the other delegates arrived) to explore Slovakia’s beautiful second city – I visited the old Cathedral, a local market and did some shopping.
Later in the evening when everyone had arrived, we attended a newcomers session to prepare us for the upcoming days at the conference. Then we broke off into our National Working Groups to decide on our three main themes using our consultation findings. We narrowed our recommendations down to;
- Rights for young Europeans,
- Using education to tackle discrimination,
- Working together to solve the very pressing refugee crisis.
On the Tuesday, the conference officially opened with speeches from the European Commission and European Youth Forum as well as the Youth Council of Slovakia. This was followed by a plenary session which included the stories of four very different young people facing challenges from every corner of Europe. Over lunch I spoke to all different young Europeans and NGO (non-governmental organisations) representatives who laid out their different visions for the future of Europe.
After lunch we broke into our workshop groups – mine being ‘rebuilding the trust of young people in the European project’ – where we began our work on creating recommendations for this cycle of Structured Dialogue. After our day in the conference centre, we went for a dinner with the Mayor of Kosice, accompanied by traditional Slovakian dance and food.
Unfortunately, I had to cut my experience at the conference a little short and on the Wednesday made my way home to Belfast. However, since the conference I have seen the recommendations from my workshop and I am very happy with them. The recommendations were;
- A communication strategy for young people to inform them on European projects
- National EU youth festivals –
Thanks to BYC for the experience to meet and work with so many other young Europeans.