September 16, 2021

International Session in Ljubljana: Flowing Beyond Limits

“Interactive incredible experience where I improved my communication skills, learnt more about the EU and made connections all over Europe.”

The 94th International Session of the European Youth Parliament (EYP) took place in August in Slovenia and brought together 150 participants across 30 countries in a hybrid setting. Ljubljana became an event that, as the session theme states, flowed well beyond limits and showed the growth and variety of the EYP network.  

Whereas core volunteers of the event gathered in Ljubljana, many others joined through ‘Hubs’ in Albania, Austria, Netherlands, Turkey and Ukraine. The Hubs were a big success, as they enabled delegates to meet their fellow delegates and experience the event in a communal setting, which made the event feel truly special.

The Team 

Two of the driving forces behind Ljubljana were Daša and Jaša who not only started the project but also led the team of organisers in creating the unique environment of this event. They were joined by the academic team led by President Adriaan van Streun, who guided all delegates in their deliberations and created a safe and open platform for the participants to discuss. Finally, the media team, with their Editress Ausma Cīrulniece, recorded the entire process and ensured that all delegates had lasting and living memories of their experience. You can find some of their most exciting outputs on the Facebook Page.  

The Programme 

After team building, the participants had a first chance to engage with policy-makers during the Town Hall. They were welcomed by Dr Stanislas Raščan, the State Secretary of Slovenia, who highlighted the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU. In a panel debate, distinguished guests, including the Deputy Heads of the French and German Embassies to Slovenia and the Ambassador of The Netherlands to Slovenia, discussed the future of Europe. The second debate discussed youth in Europe and included Dr Klemen Grošelj, a Slovene MEP, Ms Nika Kovač, director of the Institute of 8th March, and Ms Violeta Bulc, a former European Commissioner for Transport. Ms Bulc was also one of the honorary patrons of the event. The session further had the distinction of receiving the honorary patronage of Borut Pahor, the President of Slovenia, and Mr Žiga Vavpotič, president of the council of the Ypsilon Institute, and 8 Slovene Members of the European Parliament from 3 different parliamentary groups.

“It was a stimulating activity that enabled me to understand better the issue that the EU is trying to tackle.”

This was not their only opportunity to learn and grow during the event outside of the regular EYP staples. Between Committee Work and the General Assembly, a Theme event was held, where delegates could tune in to several talks given by invited speakers, including an #IAmRemarkable workshop given by Google that aims to help participants become better at self-promotion, especially those from underrepresented groups.  

During the session, the delegates gathered in Committees to discuss the problems they were tasked with overcoming. You can read the full list of Committee topics here. Some Committees had the chance to interact with experts in the field of their topics. ENVI II for example, who discussed antibiotics overuse, had the chance to interact with Dr Kristina Nadrah, an Assistant Professor in infectious diseases and epidemiology. Finally, after finishing up their Committee work and completing the resolution proposal booklet of the session, all participants had a chance to have their say in the General Assembly. Over the course of 2 days, every resolution was discussed and voted on, and the participants’ visions for the future of Europe came to the forefront. The academic fruits of their labour were shared with all the session patrons afterwards and will be part of the Young Opinions on the Future of Europe project, where around 25 young people, including some who participated in the Ljubljana Session, will be discussing their ideas on the Future of Europe with important stakeholders on the European level.

“The session was a fantastic opportunity to broaden my knowledge on a range of pertinent and far-reaching subjects, while also meeting and interacting with a number of amazing new people, all in an environment that was safe and welcoming at all times.” 

Of course, it was not just all work no play. The participants had plenty of opportunities to have fun and socialise during the event as well, including a movie night, a quiz night, and a virtual tour of Ljubljana, where participants had the chance to explore the beautiful city together with those who were there in person. The highlight of the social programme was no doubt the Euroconcert. People joined to perform both digitally and in person. From piano to Hamilton to Ukrainian poetry, all kinds of arts and talents were presented. The hosts of the event also had a chat with the different delegate Hubs spread all over Europe, and after finishing with “Thank you for the music”, the Euroconcert came to an end. All performances can still be seen online here. 

Rewatching the Euroconcert is not the only way to have a small peek behind the scenes of the session. On the Facebook page of Ljubljana 2021, you can find a podcast as well as the Small Chair Show, which showcase the experiences of session participants, including the session leadership who elaborated on the challenges of organising a hybrid event, and the Executive Director of EYP, Anya Suprunenko on the way the International Office of the EYP functions. Finally, the media team also published the beautiful session magazine called The Waterfall, which you can find here. 

The Ljubljana event was a big success, both giving all participants and chance to enjoy themselves and to learn and grow. This monumental feat will no doubt be in the memories of all who joined for a very long time. All that really remains now is to let the participants speak for themselves. 

“It was absolutely extraordinary. The amount of knowledge I gained, and the people I met will really stick with me for the rest of my life and I would really urge others to attend these events and get the same experience that I had!”