My name is Osmo Järvi. I attended the 81st International Session of the European Youth Parliament. The event was held in Dublin and Belfast from the 5th to the 13th of March. This blog post describes my experience as one of EYP Finland’s representatives.
I arrived at the Belfast airport on Saturday after a taxing trip from Turku. EYP organizers were waiting for me outside the customs, ready to provide me with information on how to get to the European Commission of Northern Ireland building for the event registration. A bus-ride and a short walk later I signed up and left my belongings at the hotel, a quick walk from the Commission building. By this point I had already befriended a Luxembourger, three Norwegians, and a fellow Finn. We wasted a couple hours walking around the centre of Belfast, before the evening programme at the Ulster Museum. There, we got dinner, were welcomed to the session, and met our committees.
In all EYP sessions, the participants are divided into committees, each focusing on a certain topic. My committee was the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs I (ECON I) and our topic was the future of the EMU (Economic and Monetary Union), with emphasis on the Greek Debt Crisis. Each committee has a pre-assigned chairperson who organizes the committee’s work and leads conversation.
The first assignment of our committee was for everyone to get to know everybody else. This “teambuilding” activitity is one of the three main parts of EYP sessions. I will discuss the other two later. The beginnings of our teambuilding consisted of playing fun games and talking to each other for a couple of hours, until it was time to get back to the hotel.
Teambuilding activities continued the next day. We discussed morality, solved crime puzzles, and danced together. We did all this so that the committee would work well together when it would be time for the real committee work.
In addition, I had to prepare for the evening event, Eurovillage. In this event, each country presented itself through food, accessories, and traditions. It was fun to stand behind the Finnish table that provided Fazer chocolate, Salmiakki, and reindeer meat, all layed out nicely on a Marimekko tablecloth. I gave other delegates information on the Finnish foods and customs, conversed with the Lithuanian delegates at the next table, and later in the evening had the opportunity to tour other tables. I found the Norwegian fish oil, the Swiss fondue, and the Spanish patatas bravas to be quite good. A dance party crowned the evening at the Eurovillage.
Monday was the first day of committee work, the second of the three main parts of EYP sessions. In committee work, each committee discusses the topic assigned to it. This involves scoping the problem, brainstorming, debating, and finally agreeing on a concrete resolution that presents the consensus view of the committee. Our committee work took place at the St. Mary’s University College of Belfast.
The evening brought with it the Opening Ceremony of the session at the magnificent Belfast City Hall, and featured equally magnificent speakers. A party at a local nightclub ended the exhausting but amazing evening.
Committee work continued on Tuesday. We had the opportunity to visit “Away Committees”. These were committees that focused on topics that we had studied before the session, but of which we were not members. In these committees, we were allowed to present ideas, ask questions, and in general gain more knowledge about the committees’ topics. Because of all the interesting discussions in the away committees, we fell behind on our own committee work, and thus decided to work on our resolution during the night. Before that, however, it was time for yet another party; the Farewell Belfast Party was held at the Titanic Belfast, a museum and monument honouring the Titanic, which was built in Belfast. Among the highlights of the museum is a life-size replica of the grand staircase from the original Titanic. This beautiful staircase was a wonderful setting for numerous committee and delegation pictures featured on the EYP Dublin Belfast Facebook page.
Wednesday was our last day in Belfast. We wrapped up our work, enjoyed a filling dinner at the university, and headed towards Dublin by bus. The bus ride provided us with a good opportunity to catch up on much needed sleep. In Dublin, we settled ourselves into our hostel, and adventured out into the Dublin night.
Our adventures continued the next day; we were allowed nearly the whole day to stroll around Dublin. Our small Finno-Greco-Swiss cohort visited coffee shops, fast food restaurants, bakeries, shopping malls and other stores, admired the old bridges of Dublin, the architecture, and the beautiful Irish accent. Dublin’s unique cultural offerings, such as Gaelic football, the unintelligible Irish language, and the delicious beer (I have heard), are fantastic.
The afternoon was spent at the Trinity College preparing for the General Assembly with our committees. At the General Assembly, the committees’ resolutions are debated, and rejected or approved. During the evening we enjoyed the “Euroconcert” that showcased the delegates’ musical skills. The rest of the night involved working on speeches and defenses for the General Assembly.
Friday was the first day of General Assembly. At the assembly, eight out of the total fifteen resolutions were discussed; I was delighted to find that my committee’s resolution passed. We took busses by delegations to Dún Laoghaire, a marina area near Dublin, to have dinner. Our Finnish delegation ate at an Italian restaurant and we had a great time. From there, we went to an Irish Ceili, a festival of Irish folk dance where we had the opportunity to dance to original Irish folk tunes. The rest of the evening was spent at the hostel working on attack speeches to counter remaining resolutions.
The General Assembly continued on Saturday. The seven other committees were discussed and the closing ceremony was held. We were given information on the next international sessions and the inner workings of EYP. We ate dinner as a committee and had a very emotional final meeting discussing how EYP had changed us, our collective time in Ireland, and our future plans together. After this we were transferred to the Farewell party, where we danced, spent as much time as possible with friends, and tried hard not to cry. The night ended and many delegates crashed into bed from the sleep deprivation accumulated through the week. I had to wake up in the very early morning on Sunday to leave for the airport.
And so ended my adventures in Ireland. Dublin Belfast was the epitome of my EYP career, and I will never forget it. EYP has changed my life and worldview for the better, and I thank EYP Finland for offering me this truly amazing experience.