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Ciara Fennessy's European Youth Parliament Trip to Tbilisi
The 86th International Session of the European Youth Parliament
Tbilisi, Georgia, 2017
My name is Ciara Fennessy, I’m currently a sixth-year student of Mount Sackville. Last year the school gave me the opportunity to participate in the Dublin Regional Session of the European Youth Parliament (EYP) which is a non-profit organisation which aims to politically engage young people through the open debate of current political issues. From the Dublin Regional Session, I was selected to attend the Irish National Session and subsequently selected for this year’s International Session in Tbilisi, Georgia.
My trip consisted of ten busy days from the 10th to the 20th of November. I travelled with the Irish delegation: a group of seven teenagers from Cork, Donegal, Galway, Cavan and Meath. Our chaperone was Caoimhe O’Rourke, an EYP Ireland alumna and past pupil of Mount Sackville. We flew from Dublin to Munich and then from there to Tbilisi, arriving at 04:00 ET. My accommodation for the session was Fabrika Hostel, a converted Soviet sewing factory. It’s concrete foundations undoubtedly held communist connotations but the exuberance of the neon-lit common area and bustling, attached restaurant shed light on the hope of the resident, post-soviet youth.
The first two days of the session eased us into the hectic timetable. I engaged in teambuilding exercises based on sharing the wealth of culture that had congregated for the session. There are more than forty countries affiliated with EYP and most, if not all were represented in Tbilisi by a politically engaged delegation of seven of young people. On Eurovillage Night, each delegation showcased their culture through food and performance, exhibitors ranged from the Portuguese to Russian delegations.
Day three marked the commencement of committee work. We were all subdivided into groups based on our assigned topics. My given topic explored the European Union’s long-term strategy for the six countries of the Eastern Partnership (Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan), the ongoing conflicts in these states i.e. the Nagorno-Karabakh war, and Russia’s influence on the Schengen Area for example the annexation of Crimea. Over the course of three days we highlighted the problems surrounding our topic and devised strategies within the EU’s competencies to deal with these issues. This work was presented in the form of our committee resolutions. We were given the opportunity to meet with a Georgian expert to gain further insight on our topic and also were invited to a panel debate with officials such as the Austrian Ambassador.
We were allotted a free-day to rest ourselves and sight-see before the rigorous debating of our resolutions at the General Assembly the following two days. That evening we were invited to the presidential palace to meet the Georgian President. The General Assembly took place in the fabulous Georgian Parliamentary Building and each day of discussion lasted for approximately twelve hours. We celebrated the end of the session with delegation dinners and a farewell party.
The 86th International Session of EYP in Tbilisi was one of the best experiences of my life. I made connections all over the globe and learned so much about current geopolitical issues. I underestimated the gravity of current political crises outside of our country’s immediate sphere of involvement and have now gained a new respect for the importance of political knowledge. Most of us are aware of the portent nature of travel for the sake of travel alone. However, EYP was my first experience of travelling with a purpose and it is for the aforementioned reasons that I would encourage younger students to get involved in EYP.
[ posted under General News on 05 February 2018 ]