I had the privilege of attending the French Conference of the EU Youth Dialogue. This was my fourth conference for WAGGGS regarding the Youth Dialogue. It has been a very interesting and certainly different experience volunteering with the External Relations team in Europe these last two years. I was one of the fortunate ones that got to attend the last in-person conference, this was my first conference (Croatia). Those of us who attend these events have been hoping to get back to non-virtual for many months and we will hopefully achieve this in the Czech Republic.
The Youth Dialogue aims to bring together youth representatives and policy makers in Europe. I will be the first to admit this is not the easiest thing to do on a virtual stage. I must compliment the German Presidency for being the first to attempt a virtual event in 2020 and for delivering a successful event.
The French Conference that I attended at the end of January was the beginning of a whole new cycle. The Youth Dialogue debates one of the Youth Goals for a cycle which is three conferences long. So France was the first in this new cycle. This time we are discussing two youth goals, #10 and #3, under the heading “Engaging together for a sustainable and inclusive Europe”.
It has been a great opportunity to engage not just with people who are more public on the EU stage but also with many wonderful people that make up the youth sector in Europe. I still remember the wonderful chat I and a few Scouts had at the German conference just because we had all signed up for the same session. We talked about all the missed camps and international opportunities that we couldn’t have and what it was like in our own countries. If you had told us back then (summer of 2020) that a year later we would still not be able to gather face to face for those events the conversation would have been a lot more bleak.
On the topic of language which is brought up a lot at these events, it is a barrier for so many people and we all were aware of how lucky we were to be able to take part in the events without having to worry too much about this. There was a great effort by everyone to allow people the time they needed to explain themselves and to help people if they weren’t about to speak a word of English. This is a great encouragement to others that might feel they can’t debate in English but know enough to be understood. There are other barriers that are not only observed but talked about within the youth groups. I have found that everyone I have come in contact with tries to accommodate as much as possible and be very aware of the different difficulties delegates can face.
To represent WAGGGS at these events is a wonderful privilege I really have enjoyed over the last two years. It may not have been anything like what I had planned when I joined the Volunteer team of Europe but I have gained lots of experience in many things. I have become familiar with a number of new programmes and made a surprising number of international friends considering I have not been outside my country in two years.
Europe Region External Relations Team
Photo: The Minister of State for Youth and Engagement, Sarah El Haïry