Trip to the European Parliament in Strasbourg
At the beginning of December, a team of DP1 and Pre-IB students banded together to write up a project that would be submitted to the Estonian Bureau of the European Parliament. The criteria presented by the EP were simple, we were to write up a list of possible ideas on how schools could celebrate European day on May 9th, and winning schools would be rewarded with a fully funded trip to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. With this in mind, our group of students got to work and wrote up a 3-page report with our best ideas and the means by which we could communicate them. After submitting our work, we anxiously waited for the results, and then a week before the winter holidays we received news that we had been chosen as one of the winning schools.
For the sake of convenience and to avoid disrupting anyone’s studies we opted for the earliest possible date for the event, which was January 26th. We immediately got down to planning. The trip required copious amounts of planning and coordination with various parties such as the EP as well as the Estonian Bureau in order to be a success. The school delegation consisted of 10 students and 2 teachers and the total time spent in France was 5 days. Our plan was to spend 2 days in Strasbourg and the rest of our time in Paris.
The event took place at the European Parliament headquarters in Strasbourg. Representing their countries were about 500 students from all across the EU member states. The theme of the day was „Media and Democracy: The EU’s actions to tackle disinformation”. Present were MEPs as well as experts in their respective fields related to the topic. Students were given the chance to voice their concerns and opinions on the given topic as well as take part in simulations of parliamentary debate. Our students were exceptionally forthcoming with their ideas and overall made their voices heard the most, relative to the other schools. The event consisted of 2 main parts, split by a lunch break. Throughout the morning the happenings consisted of mainly back and forth between Members of Parliament and the student cohort, where we got a chance to propagate our points of view on the issues du jour, and even in some cases apply pressure on their doctrine.
After an adequate lunch, the floor was given to us this time. Students now mixed and matched with other nationalities in an effort to create discourse among all the guests. Certain topics were handed to us as a means to spark a debate, and thereafter students started to present, digest, and physically vote on these matters using the same voting system that is used to pass EU legislation among other things. Toward the end, votes were tallied, feedback was given, thanks were said and hands were shaken. The event deemed itself to be an overall success and our students were overall pleased with their performance and newly acquired knowledge and experience. With that, we said our goodbyes and set off on a cultural expedition to Paris.
Stefan Kerig DP1
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