MADRID: WHERE IT ALL STARTED
Madrid was chosen as the start of our adventure and the concept of the bus tour involved 2 days of trainings, workshops and brainstorming sessions designed to equip participants with the knowledge and tools necessary for the duration of the event.
The first of the three days was quite a full one. We started with a training on the EU basics where we discussed about the EU institutions, policies and decision-making process, placing -of course- a stress on the European Parliament: its role, its evolution and challenges. With these insights in mind, we later started a debate with young European Parliament candidates, organised in cooperation with JEF (Young European Federalists) and the Spanish Youth Council. As it was open to a greater public, it was a chance to understand politics as seen through the eyes of Spanish citizens of different ages, who joined the debate. The topics discussed touched upon the future of the EU, democracy and youth policies. Quite clearly, although the Spanish citizens’ trust politicians was shaken, there is a room for hope, and it might be that this is precisely the opportunity that the EU should take, by supporting citizens and bringing them closer to the EU.
The second day in Madrid began similarly early, with a speed training meant to enable us to approach people and promote the importance of voting. We then continued with a brainstorming on different activities we could do in order to approach people more effectively and achieve our goal. We would soon see our ideas put to the test, as we headed to the campus of the Complutense University for our first street action. Our challenges? – to overcome the language barrier and convince students to stop and talk to us. I would say it was a successful endeavour all in all, one which also allowed us to understand better what went well and what we could improve next time we approach Spaniards.
The third day was also our last in Madrid and we were quite excited to start our bus tour through Spain. In the morning we had the chance to attend another debate with European Parliament candidates. It was an opportunity to understand better the positioning of the Spanish parties as to the “European issue”: which ones are more nationalistic and which are more pro-European and willing to sacrifice the short-term national visions for a long-term European one.
Finally, we assisted the ceremony of the rising of the EU flag, since the 9th of May is the Day of Europe, and we embarked on our journey to Valladolid, tired but also excited to start our Spanish adventure.
The first three days in Madrid were challenging but they gave us the opportunity to learn, experiment and gain ownership of the project and the idea behind it. On the one hand, we realised it wouldn’t be easy to convince Spaniards to vote in the European elections, but after all, this is why we chose Spain of all other countries. On the other hand, being in Spain and enjoying all it has to offer, compensates for the days -and nights- of hard work. Spending a day in the sun talking to people and finishing with a round of tapas and good mood certainly makes everything worth it.
Giorgios Lamprou, AEGEE Athina – participant
Maria Ponirou, AEGEE Peiraias – participant
Simona Sokolovska, AEGEE Skopje – participant