In the first week of March this year, OBESSU held a European cooperation event for 22 students in Gdańsk, Poland. The participants came from Visegrad countries (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia), and a variety of OBESSUs Member Organisations across Europe.
The six day event covered topics such as democracy, active participation and the role of OBESSU as a European platform for student voice. The week began with discussions about participation of youth in decision making and how to motivate young people to get involved. Following on from that, the participants learned about European institutions and the work of OBESSU within them. The students also attended a day-long conference with local school students, to explore the work of student councils locally and student cooperation on a European level.
The event was a great opportunity for the students to explore how Member, Candidate and Affiliate Organisations of OBESSU can support each other in their work, particularly for the Polish students, who are organised at a city level at the moment. With eight participants from Poland at the event, one of the focuses was to support them and build their capacities for setting up a national school student representative structure for Poland. This is a longer term project with incredible potential for student voice in Poland and in Europe!
As the city of freedom and home of the Solidarność movement, Gdańsk was a very inspirational setting for this international dialogue between students. The event was a great platform to learn, build networks and recognise first hand the benefits of European cooperation and friendship between school student activists.
A concrete outcome of the event will be a resource for school student unions and activists, developed by the participants. This resource, in the form of a publication, will contain information about the work that OBESSU does on a European level to advocate for students' rights within various institutions. The publication will also contain a guide on how to cooperate with other grass roots and national student voice organisations in different countries in Europe, in order to help students to share learning experiences and best practices.
The event was hosted by local schools and the Youth Council of Gdansk, and it was co-funded by the Visegrad fund. The fund assists events that bring together young people from the Visegrad region and promotes its development and cooperation with the rest of Europe.
Written by Joanna Siewierska, OBESSU Pool of Trainers