On March 15th 2019 the students of Prva gimnazija Varaždin, Croatia, attended the European Parliament in Strasbourg and became its representatives for a whole day. They were given the opportunity to experience a day in a politician’s life at first hand and see if they had what it takes to be a politician.
Since the beginning, the schedule was very strict, so the students’ arrival in the „Louise Weiss“ building was scheduled at around 8 AM, when they were welcomed and given their passes. While entering the main hall, the students were mesmerised by the size and capacity of it, as one should be. Inside, they were greeted by Martinez Guillen, Head of the Information Office at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. After the greeting, the students got the chance to vote on important topics considering the EU, which made them feel really empowered. Next, it was time for the students representing their country to give a short speech in which they presented their homelands. The speeches were diverse and interesting. Especially impressive were the Greeks who sang one of their folk songs. The Croatian representatives were Noa Minđek and Jelena Jambrošić Barnjak and they did a really good job. Lastly, the Vice President of the European Parliament, Rainer Wieland, showed up and the students could ask him some questions about the current state of the EU. Some students seized the opportunity and asked some questions which were quite thought-provoking.
After all the question-asking, it was time to take a break. Lunchtime started at 12:45, but the students couldn’t keep their feet up for too long. They were asked to form teams of four to play a game called „Eurogame“ and the members of the teams had to be from different countries because the game consisted of 19 questions written in 19 different languages from 19 countries present at the Parliament that day. The questions were mostly about the EU, but there were a couple that had nothing to do with it. -For example, the city in which the next Olympic Games will be held. The four teams with the most questions answered correctly would participate in the finals.
Next, it was time for the students to take the wheel. At 2 PM the students were divided into their formerly assigned groups, in which they had to debate about problems considering Europe. The students could choose from 6 groups: Environment And Renewable Energy, Security And Human Rights, 2019 European Elections, The Future Of Europe, Migration & Integration and Youth Employment. All of the topics were very interesting and the students could really express their opinion on them and let their voices be heard. Before the debate started, the students had to choose a representative for each group, who would then later, at the plenary session, introduce the rest of the groups to the designed solutions. In one of the groups, Sven Stanisavljević, a PGV student, was able to get to that position and we congratulated him on it.
The debates ended and it was time for the plenary session to start. The representatives of the groups had about 10 minutes to present their solutions and answer questions other students would ask them. After every group, the students voted on implementing or dismissing them and all the solutions from all the groups passed, which is a rare occasion. After the session, the four best teams of the „Eurogame“ were announced and the grand final could start. They were pretty interesting and had some really good questions. Finally, the European Anthem was played and the student representatives from the beginning of the day entered the hall carrying flags of coutries which are members of the EU.
After a succesful and hard-working day at the Parliament, the students exited the „Louise Weiss“ building at around 8 PM and went back to their hostel to prepare for the return home. This was an amazing experience for the students. Hopefully, it gave them some fantastic memories they will always treasure.