What makes a session
Each session – both national and international – consists of some keystones that are essential to make a session to what it is. It is a formula where focus on modern European themes and socio-cultural activities form a balanced mix. The fact that the language used during most sessions is English, for most people not their native language, gives the whole experience an extra dimension.
The vast majority of the session participants have never met before. In this regard, it’s quite logical that a session starts off by getting acquainted with each other. The delegates are divided into several committees, in which all members are strangers to one another (national: from different schools, international: from different countries). Each committee goes through teambuilding with the intention to create a cohesive group out of people who were brought together by chance.
Teambuilding consists of a variety of activities, often in the form of a game – with a physical, creative and/or problem-solving nature. Teambuilding is conducted by a group of chairs – experienced members of the European Youth Parliament – EYP alumni. The goal is to break the ice and to learn how to work as a close team in a relatively short time. Especially at international sessions this is time well spent as preparation for committee work.
At an international session teambuilding is followed by committee work. The committees write a resolution about an assigned topic. It is clear that this is not an easy task for a group consisting of members with different backgrounds and opinions. They have to compromise within a limited time span, usually with a lot of intense discussions. Accompanied by a chair, they endeavour to finish this task successfully.
At the Belgian national sessions, students are working in school delegations. Committee work is therefore already included in the preparatory work at the schools prior to the sessions. This does not influence the general formula of committee work, because members of a school delegation often have very different views and support different political opinions. Yet again, it is a challenge to come up with a coherent resolution, to which everyone agrees, at the end of committee work. The committee work at schools is done with the aid of a teacher who – making use of a guidebook and own experience – guides the students.
Eventually every one of them will learn a number of things. In the first place they learn to express their opinions, to debate about them, to negotiate and to convince others of their views on the topic. Moreover, they will learn a lot about the subject in question and may have developed a more nuanced view on the topic throughout the discussions, together with a clear understanding of the implications that are linked to a particular decision.
The General Assembly or GA is the result of hard work of various committees or school delegations and without any doubt the highlight of the session. Each committee presents its resolution to the other committees. For each resolution there is a plenary debate in which the other committees express their comments and raise points of debate, whilst the submitting committee tries to clarify and defend their views. In this way, each participant should not only be aware of its own subject, but should also have done enough research on the topics of other committees and their respective resolutions.
Each debate ends with a voting procedure, during which participant individually decides whether he or she is in favour or against the proposing committee’s resolution. Those that pass are often sent to the European Parliament or other European institutions. Nevertheless we remain an organisation that focuses on the educational aspect and we are not striving for political influence.
A session always has a busy programme and requires a lot from the delegates, it is therefore important to have a more relaxed evening programme. Besides the foreseen leisure time for some socialising, there are also some activities relating to cultural exchange.
An activity that returns at each session is the Eurovillage. Each delegation sets up a table with information and food relating to a specific European country – at international sessions this is the country of origin of each delegation, at national sessions, each school delegation is assigned a specific country. This way, they get to know the different European countries in a pleasant, culinary, way. Each and every time this is a pleasant evening where everyone will find several dishes that suit their culinary needs.
All other evening activities differ from session to session, the most prominent being the Euroconcert, a concert by and for delegates.