Why Y-E-N Matters: Crossings Cultures, a Reason to Vote

The meetings have names. Behind the projects, there are always faces and biographies. This time, the names that marked these four days in Strasbourg were:

Emilie, Ekrem, Busra, Sarah, Louise, Sejnur, Damian, Markella, and Federica.

As always with Y-E-N, each person brought their own origins and perspectives on Europe. This is Y- E-N, a place for sharing knowledge and points of view. It’s an opportunity to truly understand, in a direct and informal way, what’s happening in the rest of Europe, without the mediation of TV and social media. Y-E-N enables real encounters between human beings: living examples of what is happening elsewhere. And now more than ever, this is what Europe and its citizens need: dialogue and human connections, gathering around those European values that are so much in danger. Y-E-N facilitates conversations among the new generations, helping young people from across Europe to meet and stay in touch. In Europe, with the threat of the far right, wars, and the rise of virtual challenges, Y-E-N’s weaving work is exactly what we need right now.

From April 25th to 28th, we worked on the preliminary phase of the project ‘Europe Impacts Youth, Youth Impacts Europe’, which will take place in Strasbourg from May 5th to 11th. The project involves 5 organizations from 5 European countries: Greece, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Romania, with approximately 25 young people participating.

This preparatory phase served to get to know each other and discuss the activities planned for the youth exchange. On Friday morning, we discussed the schedule and the type of activities that could best reflect the theme of this exchange, which is the European Parliament elections (June 6-9, 2024). We reflected on what to include in the program, considering which activities might be more effective than others. We made proposals, drawing on our experiences as facilitators. In the afternoon, we tested one of the games that will be played during the exchange – a type of treasure hunt around the buildings in the European quarter.

The work continued the next day at the Open Day of the European Parliament. Here we spent the whole day, not just walking around inside the Parliament, but also having the opportunity to learn about the parties running in the elections. There were many booths and playful activities. We also unexpectedly had the chance to participate in a brief workshop on the relationship between Art and Democracy, and the important role of art within the European Parliament. Every culture in Europe does not only belong to one country. Art surpasses the boundaries dictated by wars and economic policies. A work of art never remains confined within one culture but constantly crosses from one country to another. Art needs people from every place and time to have the opportunity to meet and influence each other. Art knows no geographies. This is why Europe embodies a culture characterized by its pluralistic nature. Art reflects the inclusivity and diversity of our work with youth. Every day, we strive to make a difference in our home countries and organization, working to protect the values of our democracy.

Next stop: Strasbourg, May 5th – 11th, 2024