THE ROMANIAN DELEGATION AT THE EEYP – ANTWERP – 2011
“TRAVELLING BROADENS ALL MINDS!”
(Glimpses of a trip in Belgium submitted by Alina Oprea)
The ERASMIAN EUROPEAN YOUTH PARLIAMENT (EEYP) was set up in Rotterdam in 2008 having as its main activity to organize an annual event for students of secondary schools, a project that held its third edition this year in Antwerp/ Anvers, Belgium, the European Youth Capital.
The main aims of the Foundation, whose organisers are Mr. Pieter Dupon, Chair of the Foundation board, EEYP themes, teacher at Erasmiaans Gymnasium, Rotterdam, Mrs. Annet Brouwer , Contact person for the schools, and Mrs. Evelyn Dolk, Finance, are firstly “to organize this EEYP in the European Youth Capital of the year, in cooperation with local schools and the city itself , secondly to connect European cities as well as students from all over Europe, and thirdly to build relationships between students and business professionals”. The EEYP has been financed so far with the help of the local Youth Capital Organisations and city councils, the European Commission and local sponsors and funds.
“Ion C. Bratianu” National High School took part in all the events starting with 2009. Junimea Association and the leadership of our high school supported the endeavour and Petrom sponsored the first two editions-in Rotterdam and Torino-whereas BRD-Groupe Societe Generale partially sponsored the third edition in Antwerp, Belgium. The first project in Rotterdam was something new for us regarding its organization, development and outcome and the feedback from the participants was definitely favourable to a next participation. The EEYP-Antwerp 2011 offered the opportunity for our students to visit places they have never been to, but heard about on almost a daily basis: Brussels, Antwerp/Anvers, Bruges-the Venice of the North.
This year’s delegation meant students from the 9th, the 10th and the 12th grades(Luca Andrada, Voinea Madalina, Uta Ioana, Popa Rares, Matei Cristina, Popa Andreea, Barba Mircea) seven in all, as required by the organisers of the event, coordinated and accompanied by their teacher, Alina Oprea.
The Internet was of great help in the participants’ preparation. They were sent the committees they would work in and the topics they had to enquire about. They got in touch with each other and socialized even before meeting there. The teacher and the ones who participated in a previous edition helped the new ones to find information and form the “dynamic duo”, a person with expertise in the domain they were supposed to write a motion on. The committees were as such:
- Social affairs/unemployment/education
- Foreign affairs/security/immigration
Besides preparing for their committees, they had to prepare the presentation of the town and college for the event called the Euro-Market.
THE ADVENTURE: BRUSSELS
We landed at Brussels’ main airport and made our way to the Centraal Station, a place from where every stranger easily finds his/her way to every corner of the great city. Together we learnt how to find our way in crowded places, how to read maps so that we could see the hallmarks of the city: Manneken Pis, the famous statue located at the junction of Rue de l’Étuve/Stoofstraat and Rue duChêne/Eikstraat. To find it, one takes the left lane next to the Brussels Town Hall from the famous Grand Place and walks a few hundred meters to arrive at the spot. The Royal Palace of Brussels, the official palace of the King of the Belgians in the centre of the nation’s capital Brussels, is not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Castle of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels.
Our final goal was the European Commission headquarters. It derives from one of the five key institutions created in the supranational European Community system, following the proposal of Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister, on 9 May 1950. Originating in 1951 as the High Authority in the European Coal and Steel Community, the Commission has undergone numerous changes in power and composition under various Presidents.
Centraal Station – our first meeting with Antwerp – is now widely regarded as the finest example of railway architecture in Belgium, although the extraordinary eclecticism of the influences onDelacenserie’s design had led to a difficulty in assigning it to a particular architectural style. In 2009 the American magazine Newsweek judged Antwerpen-Centraal the world’s fourth greatest train station.
Three wonderful Belgian students, a girl and two boys, were our guides to the most important places in Antwerp. In the middle of the ‘Grote Markt‘ (Town Square) stands the Brabo fountain. (1887). According to a legend, a terrible giant lived on the banks of the river Scheldt in ancient times. Whenever sailors on the Scheldt river refused to pay toll to the giant, he punished them by cutting off their hand. A Roman soldier, Silvius Brabo, managed to kill the giant. Brabo cut off the hand of the giant and threw it away in the river. Hence, according to the legend, the name of the city : hand ( Engl.: hand) –werpen(Engl.: to throw). The ‘hand’ is the symbol of Antwerp. There are hands in the town flag,as well. Moreover, there are several sweets in the form of a hand (cookies, chocolates). In any case, without the Brabofountain, the Grote Markt would not be complete.
The Cathedral of Our Lady is a Roman Catholic
cathedral in Antwerp. Today’s see of the
Diocese of Antwerp was started in 1352 and, although the first stage of construction was finished in 1521, it has never been ‘completed’. In Gothic style, it contains a number of significant works by the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. The cathedral is on the list of World Heritage SitesHowever, Antwerp did not mean only nice sights and history. For the Romanian delegation it also meant work. Work in sharing information with the peers in their committees, work in presenting their ideas during Meet the Boss event, work in being convincing when presenting their motion during the General Assembly.
From the very opening of the event the delegates had the opportunity to experience meeting members of the royal family of Belgium, meaning Prince Philip and Princess Mathilde, one of our students,Andreea Popa, being selected for a round-table discussion.
The young people’s work was pleasant, though, due to the passionate organisers who tried to offer the best locations ever: Den Bell for the regular work on the motions,
and the Town Hall for the Meet the Boss event. The main theme of this year’s edition was “Youth participation in various areas.” At the end of the week, they formulated policy recommendations for urban issues. To prove that the youngsters’ activity there is not a mere game (let’s play the Members of Parliament!), the adults, persons with great expertise in different domains answered the EEYP organisers’ appeal and treated it seriously. The list below speaks for itself:
Mrs. Joke Bamps, Attaché Mobility and Transport, Permanent Representative of Belgium at the EU
Mrs. Cathy Berx, Governor Province of Antwerp
Mr. Koen van Beveren, Change Management Nuclear Plant Doel
Mrs. Annemie Bruyninckx, Expert Coach VDAB Antwerp
Mr. Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO Antwerp Port Authority
Mr. Philip Buskens, Vice President Site Optimisation BASF
Mr. Axel Buyse, General Representative of the Flemish Government at the EU
Mrs. Carole Coune, Chairman of the Board of the Federal Organisation Services of Mobility and Transport
Mr. Ronald van den Ecker, Partner Ernst & Young Accountants
Mr. Michel Fischler, CEO Fischler Diamonds
Mr. Tom Iterbeek, Attaché Integration, Permanent Representative of Belgium at the EU
Mr. Lode de Kesel, Director De Lijn Antwerp
Mr. Daniel Krug, COO Duvel Moortgat
Mrs. Ingrid Mertens, Coördinator Employment VDAB Antwerp
Mr. Marc van Peel, Alderman for the Harbour, Antwerp City Council
Mr. Michiel van Ravenstein, MD Vopak Antwerp
Mr. Johan Rentmeesters, MD a.i. Essent Belgium
Mr. Jelle Reynaert, Attaché Education, Permanent Representative of Belgium at the EU
Mr. Patrick Rottiers, Partner Ernst & Young accountants
Mr. Albert Thissen, MD Hapag Lloyd Antwerp
Mr. Stephan Vanfraechem, Director Policy and Communication Alfaport Antwerp
Mrs. Leen Verbist, Alderman for Youth, Antwerp City Council
Mr. Robert Voorhamme, Alderman for Education, Economy, Employment and Trade, Antwerp City Council
Each committee met two or three of these important persons and the discussions were beneficial for both sides, as everybody declared at the end of the event.
Bernardus Center was chosen for the General Assembly and, besides the other two venues, it was another place worth seeing due to the beauties displayed.
Understanding the importance of their work there, the adolescents in the role of highly qualified adults, discussed the resolutions with professionalism and maturity and judged as such: “Foreign Affairs A” failed, “Foreign Affairs B” passed; both “Social Affairs” A and B failed; both “Infrastructure” A and B passed; both “Energy” A and B passed; “Economy A” passed and “Economy B” failed. This year more speeches were written and more delegates were involved in attacking, supporting defending the resolutions. Unfortunately, only native speakers of English were awarded prizes! It was not fair, but we considered that the performance of some members of our delegation, also noticed by the adults present there, was paying off.
Irrespective of all the heating debates, they all became friends and shed tears when the event was over. Some of them might decide on Europe’s future!
Our last adventure on Belgian land was a three-hour visit – a too short one for the landscape which was lying before our eyes: houses from fairytales, amazing horses, the daffodils and the canals of theVenice of the North, Bruges.
The Belfry of Bruges, or Belfort, ( the picture in the middle) is a medieval bell tower in the historical centre. One of the city’s most prominent symbols, the belfry formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger. A narrow, steep staircase of 366 steps leads to the top of the 83-metre-high building, which leans about a metre to the east. The belfry is also known as the Halletoren (tower of the halls). The building is a central feature of the 2008 film In Bruges. Watching the movie we had the pleasure to recognise some of the places we visited.
“I have to say that, in my opinion, EEYP is more than exercising and improving your English skills in its meaning. It symbolises the voice of the youth in the EU. The teenagers are challenged to express their opinions, to find problems and try to solve them. It’s all about working in teams, fighting for your “cause” and speaking in general assemblies. Participating, being active has a lot of positive results for you. For example, I became stronger and more confident. I also learnt to trust myself more and to speak freely in public. Now, in retrospection, I realise that the EEYP helps you to shape your personality and, who knows, maybe to become a successful person by using further your acquired skills. Socialising and making friends is another important point in the EEYP. Everyone was very nice, kind and friendly with everybody there, from the organizers and teachers to the delegates. On the whole, it was a wonderful experience meeting extraordinary people and feeling that you are part of a big European Parliament and that you have the power to change something for the better of the world, for a more peaceful world! When thinking of everything that has happened, I surely know that these memories will stay with me forever!” (Andrada Luca- 9th A)
“EEYP, Antwerp 2011, was a life-changing experience for me, not only as a student, but also as an adult-to-be. As a student, I had the chance to practise my English and to enrich my basic knowledge by spending time and sharing ideas with people from other cultures. Besides that, what I most appreciated was the opportunity to be part of a team, to share interests with other people and to feel that we all had the same goal: to have our resolution passed. I was fascinated to see how even the simplest idea became more and more complex, as everyone brought their contribution to its development. I enjoyed meeting young people with interesting and varied backgrounds who were, just as I was, anxious to make friends, to share feelings, ideas and experience.(Andreea Popa-12th C)
“I’ll start by saying that EEYP was a unique experience that will forever be etched in my mind. During that week I got to know amazing people from different parts of Europe, each with different habits, opinions and principles. Although, at the beginning, we seemed to be so different, until the end of the week we realized that we weren’t. By spending so much time working together we all made new friends. Now I realize how much I miss everyone Thank you, guys, for that incredible week!” (Ioana Uta-10th F)
“It was the greatest, the most unforgettable and the most unusual experience I had ever had. Unusual, because it was my first time on an EEYP event. It made me feel more mature, independent and self-assured. It wasn’t so easy during the first two days, but I got to feel sorry when we had to leave. Besides the hard work we had fun every night, we visited the city and had a farewell party, and many more. I think that I was the happiest when my resolution passed. I knew it! Our resolution in committee “Infrastructure B” was and is awesome. I can say it was a delight to work with all the delegates of my committee. EEYP is a great activity and could be a great experience for the ones who want to try it!” (Madalina Voinea-9th A)
I think there is nothing more to be said. EEYP proves to be beneficial, pleasant and educational, at the same time. The great number of people with expertise present in Meet the Boss event is only one sign that EEYP is a good thing which should continue, for the youth’s sake, Europe’s future.