The European Youth Parliament network (EYP) brings young people across Europe together. But what exactly are the participants doing in and outside of our events, what are the main skills you practice, and why do young people stay involved?
Everyone who joins EYP activities is encouraged to take a step further with every new event. Possibilities to try out different roles, as for example committee leader and chairing the work of the group, organising venues and meals for an event or running EYP’s social media channels, encourages everyone to try out something new and learn from more from experienced volunteers. Through their experiences EYPers learn project management, budgeting, public speaking, delivering convincing elevator pitches, NGO management and leadership. Here’s an overview over just a few skills you might learn in your time with the European Youth Parliament!
1. Working in an international team
Having a common working language, the participants are pushed out of their comfort zones by talking and working with people in an international team from different cultural backgrounds. By bringing young people from diverse countries together, EYP promotes international understanding, intercultural dialogue and diversity of ideas and practices.
2. Expressing one’s opinion
The European Youth Parliament is not politically affiliated to any party, nor is it affiliated to the European Parliament. The participants don’t simulate what members of parliament would do according to their place in the European Parliament, but rather present their own personal opinions in their committees and the General Assembly. EYP’s mission statement includes the aim of empowering young people to become open-minded, tolerant and active citizens.
3. Negotiation skills
Debating and discussion in EYP is consensus-based. We avoid confrontation and seek consensus within a Committee Work structure. This does not preclude ideological conflicts and debates, but the aim is to develop ideas and solutions together in order to overcome differences and find constructive compromises.
4. Public speaking
Ensuring your voice is heard during teambuilding, committee work or the general assembly pushes people out of their comfort zone. Speaking in a foreign language about issues important to the participants can be both challenging and thrilling at the same time. You’ll never forget the feeling you get when stepping down from the stage after your first speech during a General Assembly while a room of your peers is applauding.
5. Better knowledge of the functioning of European institutions and current debates
During the session’s Committee Work, a focus is given to more in-depth research and debating on specific socio-political issues, where a group of delegates dives deeper in a topic and forms suggestions for future policies. These suggestions – called resolutions – are then debated in a plenary format in the General Assembly at the end of a session.
Through its activities, EYP aims to raise awareness of European issues, encourage active European citizenship and motivate young people to get involved in European politics. The debates focus around the current socio-political issues that the continent is facing, ranging from environmental and energy questions to the refugee crisis, border control and surveillance.
6. Language skills
The official language of the European Youth Parliament is English. Our National Committees organise local events in their native language but most of our events are run in this common language. This ensures a smooth exchange on current political issues from young Europeans from different countries. English is also the most widely spoken language in the European Union, and is understood by 51% of all adults.
7. Leadership skills
Across 40 countries the EYP is a bottom-up network and about 3 000 young volunteers are involved in planning and implementing all activities within the network. They further communicate with each other nationally and internationally to determine strategic goals and to generate the coolest ideas for future projects.
8. Group dynamics
The volunteers of an event lead their teams through the session and facilitate the work of the group. They guide their participants and team members through the different stages of the programme. Teambuilding, taking place at the beginning of the session, has the power to quickly turn a group of strangers into well cooperating working team.
9. Transferring skills
Whilst our alumni might learn a lot from trainings, they also transfer their knowledge to new generations of EYPers. Content and skills are passed on between people around the same age as the participants. This is integral to EYP’s educational work, because the act of organising EYP experiences for others is in itself an educational and empowering experience for young people.
10. Time management
Who does what and when? Time management comes into play in all roles at a session or other events. From when to get up to still get some breakfast, coordinating between a transport company and the evening programme to getting participants to where they’re supposed to be is often challenging.
11. Project management
The Organising team is usually led by one or more Head Organisers who are often more experienced members of the network. Their work starts a few months before the session with organising conference venues, talking to catering companies or setting up microphones for an Open Stage night. They plan the event from start to finish, often being not much older than the participants themselves.
How much money do we have? What do we need? What do we spend it on? These are questions Organising teams and national boards are often confronted with during and before an event. Planning the budget of an event of the scale of our sessions often takes farsightedness, smart budget reviews, longterm fundraising, excel sheets and a calculator.
13. Crisis management
Expect the unexpected. Events with many participants often encounter unforeseen circumstances. Whether that is a road being blocked, a participant falling ill, an issue with a caterer or last-minute venue changes, staying cool and developing plans B, C and D is often just as much part of the organising process as allocating people to rooms.
14. Writing skills
Writing skills come into play in various roles at our events. The chairs teams often provide their respective groups with topic overviews over the themes discussed at the event, spending time writing, proofreading and adapting them in preparation for the session.
From printed magazines to session leaflets, the media team members document the progress of the event in a variety of formats. They often times also provide background information on the discussion topics for the delegates to offer a wider perspective on the session theme and topics.
15. Layouting / Photography / Videography
Written output isn’t the sole focus of the media teams at our events. Participants in this role can learn about a variety of media formats from visual output such as photos to session videos that are then presented on the social media channels or at the event itself to the participants.