The large-scale youth exchange “I Choose Europe” was co-organized by Animafac, JEF Europe and JEF France with the support of Assembly of European Regions (AER), Balkans Beyond Borders, Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID), DYPALL Network, Europe4Youth, European Educational Exchanges – Youth For Understanding and Union of European Federalists (UEF). Coordinated by a broad coalition of civil society organisations, the project “European Youth Together: Road to the Future” (EYT-RTF) aimed to encourage young people to participate in debates about Europe and vote in the European Elections 2019.
On 13th of March 2019, 104 participants and 26 national group leaders from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, North Macedonia, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and met in Jambville at France to join the campaign “I choose Europe”. The Greek delegation was been set up by the NGO Balkans Beyond Borders, which is a partner organization in cooperation with JEF Greece.
All participants hosted in the large and picturesque Château de Jambville, where many youth manifests are taking place. Two days before the beginning of the program, the group leaders were already there. They had the chance to create and prepare their own workshops, discuss the future of Europe and finish all last pending. Their liabilities were, to work together like harmony gears of a machine, in order to face any possible difficulties, the intensity of the following days and the schedule itself, around the clock.
By the time the participants came, the castle was throbbed with life. Workshops started passionately with everyone joying in. Τopics were all about European political parties, youth integration, presentation of digital tools, up to quiz games upon Europe, the art of public persuasion, methods of creating local events and youth mentoring. Of course, ice-breaking games and energizers had a special place through the days. Finally, the nights were framed with cultural parties and traditional foods.
The Big Day was (Quartier général)
Saturday morning (16 of March), buses were waiting outside the gates of the castle. The participants had to attend the Quartier général. A festival for youngsters in which the campaign had to been made in public. Almost two thousand young people approached it. A place which was full of small stands, food, and stores. In the afternoon, something unique happened and it named “Flash mob”. Scattered groups of participants, around the place, started shouting “I choose Europe” as they were walking head to reach the central stage. There, was a speech, about the values of the EU and the necessity of union between European countries.
Everyone took the advantage to walk in the streets of the capital. To taste the food, to visit the monuments and the museums, to listen to the music of local artists. At the end of the days, participants hugged each other. Though they did not say goodbye, rather “See you soon”.
Unity in Diversity, for once again, has been succeeded. It is our concern, that yes, Europe is united. Europe belongs to the young people and offers plenty of opportunities. The only thing that we should do, is to open our minds and co-operate for a brighter future. The following European elections are crucial. Young citizens, which are the cornerstone of this united family, should be informed properly and act.
What’s Next ?
After the end of the Youth Exchange, local activities in 13 European countries will be holded in order to promote local engagement for the future of Europe. Moreover, aiming to raise awareness about the upcoming European Elections 2019 and encourage young people to vote, JEF Europe leads the campaign “I Choose Europe”, with a promotional bus tour as one of its highlights. The main goal of the tour is to connect the countries participating in the campaign, making a good case for maintaining and strengthening the freedom of movement in Europe in the context of the upcoming elections.
Learn more about the event: European Elections 2019: Vote for the Future 26/3/2019
We choose Europe and we build bridges of cooperation.
Written by Sotiris Pavlidis & Spyridoula Loukopoulou ( leaders of the greek delegation)