What is the EYE?
The European Youth Event (EYE) took place in the European Parliament seat in Strasbourg from 20-21 May 2016. It is a unique opportunity for thousands of young Europeans to make their voices heard.
During the event, they were able to exchange ideas and perspectives on youth-related issues, develop innovative solutions to crucial questions for the future and meet with European decision-makers and speakers with a wide range of professional experience.
At the same time, the EYE provided an opportunity to experience the rich cultural diversity within the European Union through the staging of various artistic performances and spectacles.
As a follow-up, a report with the ideas discussed during the event will be available to all Members of the European Parliament. As well, former EYE participants have the opportunity to present the most concrete ideas produced by young people to a number of parliamentary committees and receive feedbacks from Members.
In the beginning of November, a team of young Greek political concerned students got together in Athens. As you probably have guessed it this was my team. We weren’t the only team from Greece but the whole of people were around 100.
Our name is PCGS which stands for Political Concerned Greek Students. When I first joined, the team had no more than 4 secured members out of the 10 that was needed to actually get an invitation for EYE. It didn’t take us a lot of time to get to know each other better and create a good bonding. Since 9 of us are in the same university we could say it was fairly easy. Besides most of the team knew each other before the idea ever dropped to the table.
With all that being said we as any team, we had our strengths and weaknesses.
Communication and teamwork were certainly not a strength of ours which are key areas. Aside that we didn’t have the same level of interest as far as the business part of the journey goes. Some were in for the fun, others believed we could genuinely express our ideas in the European Parliament and other had no expectation at all.
Being smart and knowing how to have a great time where two of our strengths that really got to define the journey because that is what at the end of the day we will remember.
Since we didn’t achieve anything special in the two days in the EYE I can proudly say that we had an amazing time, went to awesome places in all three cities and really smart our way through and experiencing Paris, Strasbourg and little of Milan. That can be understood by the thousands of pictures we took and the souvenirs we brought back home.
At the day of the event, we all got together and had a good time at our respective activities while our communication throughout the trip was far better than in the beginning.
The trip was an amazing ride.
It wasn’t easy neither was relaxing. We flew in the morning of 18 of May and spent the day in Paris where we visited Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, The Triumphal Arch and generally walked the streets of Paris. After getting lost and eventually finding our way through the metro, the train and tram stations we arrived at the Bus station where our Flixbus was waiting for us. After we checked in, relaxed and chilled out everyone either slept or listened to music. It was a crowded bus that fortunately was very quite from the beginning. The whole drive was around 10 hours that passed very slowly. Unfortunately sleeping in a bus was never something that I liked and when my time came to join the rest of my team, not only did I wake up feeling like a total mess but I was in dire need of water and food. My teeth and jaws were in the greatest pain because I, for some strange reason, kept putting pressure on them while I was asleep. My lower back and traps were killing me and my hips needed major flexing. Nevertheless, we arrived at our destination. Strasbourg was silent and cold. We understood that it was that the main mean of transportation was the tram so we hopped in and headed for the centre of the town. Thankfully Giannis, our team’s trip advisor was well prepared and knew all there is to know about different tram lines, the center of the city, food places etc.
After picking up breakfast and strolling around the city we headed for the hotel where we stayed and settled in. The next 2 days passed very fast as we had so many things to do. We were at the EYE for a big part of the day but we didn’t miss an opportunity to go out there and venture into the streets of Strasbourg. We ate well and a lot, drunk some beers in an amazing pub, went sightseeing and collected souvenirs.
At the end of 21 of May, we headed back to our bus station where we waited for around 2 hours for Eurolines bus to come. We traveled with a team from Italy that we got to know a little bit. After a 8 hour drive through Switzerland and Italy, we arrived at Milan where we stayed for the next 4 hours.
Milan is a magnificent city mainly because of the architecture and the very traditional espresso morning where people go the local cafe get their espresso or cappuccino and brioche, eat and then leave to resume their day. I would like to add here the fact that we visited every Cathedral in all three cities. Notre Dame, Strasbourg Cathedral, and Duomo. Quite a feat I would say.
Finally, we hopped on a bus that took us to Bergamo International Airport. We checked in, grab something to eat, bought some more souvenirs and headed home to Greece.
As I have said in the past every Journey we embark in life is important. This trip like any other taught me a lot and I was lucky enough to experience so many new things only in 4 days.
A few of the things I learned and noticed where:
- The uniqueness of each European Nation and it’s people.
- Europe’s shared culture.
- Travel as much as possible because Life is Beauty, Beauty, Life as John Keats said.
- The Power of Youth Organizations that have a very powerful standing in other European countries while in Greece, there is a deprivation of attention and value to such efforts.
- The nature of politics and how people see circumstances differently especially in a multi-cultural organization such as the European Union.
- When you plan an event of such magnitude make sure you come prepared. Security checks were top notch but staying on schedule was not. We were thirty minutes late in our first activity because the security check ups were very slow due to the amount of people that needed to get in the European Parliament.
- Martin Schulz was supposed to discuss hot issues with us, the new generation on the Future of Europe an activity that took part in the Hemicycle. Unfortunately, Mr. Schulz didn’t attend the event and the assignment was transferred to the Vice Presidents of the E.U.
- Greece needs major reform and update. This was the issue I wanted to discuss with the members of the Committee in the Hemicycle but due to unfortunate luck, I wasn’t given the opportunity. Nevertheless, we need to change our mindset, our way of living and update ourselves to the European Standards. We must not exclude what makes us Greeks and compose our identity but strengthen our national position by doing both, being Greek and European. We need to reduce bureaucracy, empower our private sector with investments and business-friendly plans. Our tax system needs a great change in many ways on being that of business-friendly start-up means, tax cuts for people who are starting their own business that with time can help reduce tax evasion. We ought to strengthen our education, bring as much capital as possible to our country and adapt the hustle mode of Europe. Our economy is based on a overwhelmed public domain. While it is understandable that the foundations of our country after 1821 are based on that sector I think it’s time for the government to look for ways that can create jobs, aviate salary cap and restore balance in our lifestyles outside the public domain.
- The past 40 years have been crucial years in the forming of the new state. No matter what, our generation is the generation of change and we need to start now for a better future.
It goes without saying that we should not wait for our government nor should we believe that it will create the lives we want all by itself. As John F. Kennedy said:
”My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
The Trip, My Team, and the whole Experience taught me so many great things and made me question a whole lot more.
Aspire for something greater, explore different opinions and perspectives, enjoy many nice city walks, meet new people while you strengthen your already established bond with people you share beds with. Don’t be afraid to ask and learn new ideas while seeing through the eyes of people that are on the same world as you.
We need to improve and become better. Starting Now. All of us.