Dear delegates and officials,
UNDEFINED is the welcome issue of your 18th Belgian National Session paper, inside it are fantastic articles from a committed team of journalists that will introduce you to the world of EYP journalism. The paper at a session represents the creative talent of the officials, be it artistic, photographic, literary or humorous, it is a platform for ideas, opinions and energy. The focus of this issue is defining the role of a journalist within EYP, and each member of the press team has included their view on the matter. Sometimes being a journalist is seen as a stepping stone to becoming a chair, gaining experience and knowledge, but in reality a whole different skill set is needed. Not only does a journalist need to write articles and take photographs and videos, they need to immerse themselves in a session, understand every delegate and official in order to truly report on a session. Session papers are often said to be an antidote for the terrible poison that is post-eyp depression and I sincerely hope that what our press team gives you is not only helpful in that phase after the session, but inspiration to voice your opinions on any platform you can find. Your four journalists are OSCAR, DORA, HENDRIK and LOUISE and shall be your sources of inspiration for the duration of the session. Find them during your time in Ghent and Brussels and tell them scurrilous stories, heartfelt opinions, twitter updates and facebook statuses. They are my eyes and ears to the session and will need help from every participant to present you with a true representation of your national session. Have your say. If you want something in the paper, or in a video, let us know - find a journalist or email us your ideas, thoughts, feelings or opinions at email@example.com today. Monika
PRESIDENTIALINTERVIEW Last week I was lucky enough to get the chance to have a quick chat with our very busy Session President; the lovely Victoria Wilkinson. But just who is the woman ‘running the show’?
Oscar Stenbom (SE)
The freckled Norwegian says that some call her ginger, that she studies law and enjoys what most Norwegians probably would answer; skiing. Rather logically, she adds that realizing she is growing up has meant that she moved back home to slow down the process. Lastly she desperately looks forward to the summer, which I can attest is true for all Scandinavians hardy enough to brave our long, dark winters. The topic of conversation gets considerably stranger when Victoria attempts to explain to me how after the IS of ’09, she managed to accidentally create an event by the name of one of the journalists – the only person attending was Victoria. Attempting to clarify, Ms Wilkinson blames some harmless Facebook stalking gone wrong. Still mystified as to how it is possible to misunderstand Facebook I add that I will be expecting my own personal post-session event, given the complications of the latest Facebook design. The main subject of our chat is naturally Belgium and the session which is brought up as I ask Victoria what her favorite country is. After asking weather this is the part when she answers Belgium, which it is, Victoria answers that her favored ‘food country’ is Belgium. This becomes increasingly obvious after I find out that madam President is especially looking forward to eating loads of chocolate in between meeting new people and listening to the debates in the European Parliament. As we delve more into Presidential and EYP matters it is easy to see why Victoria loves EYP, and vice versa. She loves planning, hates packing (who ever unpacks anyway?) and always looks to challenge herself and others around her. After attempting to describe what’s special about EYP in three words, answering the people, atmosphere and fun; Victoria tells me how any why she got involved in EYP. Again in true Scandinavian fashion, our favorite Norwegian attended EYP’s coldest nationals in Tromsø, northern Norway, before travelling to Dublin for her first International Session after which she was trapped. What kept, and still keeps her involved is ‘the challenges you get, the people you meet, and the places you go’. Lastly, in true EYP fashion, our President advises delegates to make the most of their unique opportunity since ‘you can sleep the rest of your life’. So if you see your fantastic President Victoria around, be sure to give her a smile, a hug or some Belgian chocolate. Preferably all three.
EUROPE EXPLAINED Being a medical student, I started thinking of the European Union, together with its institutions as a living organism with all its characteristics and needs and I invite you to follow me in this string of imaginative correlations…
Dora Markati (GR)
So, if you would like to do so, you can start by likening the European Union to a human body. Then its upper limbs could be the European Parliament (EP) and the Council of the European Union. The limbs are as essential to the body, as the rest of it is to them. Keeping these in mind, then it’s not difficult to find several connections between them. To start with, a body’s function depends absolutely from its heart and brain. If EU is this body, then we automatically think that the “brain” and the “heart” of it are its citizens. Undoubtedly, the citizens are, and should be, those who have the power and the will within the EU and over its institutions – I would say that the body gives orders to the limbs to move, but only when it feels like it. And as this goes on: imagine a body without limbs and how difficult would be for it to deal with simple or serious stuff in every day circumstances. This shows how difficult could be for the European Union to work out procedural issues without the EP or the Council of the European Union. But even if they do exist, harmonious connections between the “will” of the body and their movements, or in other words, between the voice of the citizens and the decisions taken by the EU’s bodies, is vital. And this does not stop here: harmony is essential in their relative movements as well. Because, their moving simultaneously towards the execution of an action can turn out to be really effective rather than their moving arbitrarily -something that can also cause confusion to the body. Moving on to a more typical approach, the existence of the European Parliament, since 1979 and the strengthening of its legislative power with the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty meant the movement towards a more democratic EU. The EP is the only directly elected body of the EU and its members, the so-called MEPs are representatives of all voices within the EU. The EP should be characterised as a working group of people, whose decisions determine the boundaries of the EU’s strategies for several issues, ranging from its external relationships to scientific development to human rights. What’s more, the EP approves the budget of the EU every year, and supervises the important markets of its countries members in order to avoid severe risks for the economy of the Union. The other legislative power for the EU is the Council of the European Union. The Council of the European Union consists of the leaders of the EU’s country members and gathers 4 times a year to discuss EU’s political priorities. Sometimes there is confusion between this institution, the European Council – another EU body- and the Council of the Europe, which are different existing institutions. The Council of the European Union deals with similar issues with the European Parliament.
THE ROLE OF JOURNALISM IN EYP
I consider the role of a journo as a guide through the session, informing the delegates on the session itself and providing background and other, motivating information through more academic articles. Aside from this, a journalist has to be capable of seeing and capturing both the overall atmosphere as well as the significant, particular details. In order to do so, a journalist has to preferably be at all places at the same time. Having done so, and having captured all that one might remember the session by, I think it is both the privilege and the duty of a journalist to provide all things possible to continue keeping up the feeling and good memories after the session. In my years as a delegate, I noticed how being at an EYP session is like a blur of experiences, situations, ideas, people and fun, so much that time and overall awareness seem to slip through your fingers. This is where the journalist gives a helping hand, giving you the opportunity to oversee most of it in a less chaotic way. -Louise
Discussing the role of journalists in EYP is always tricky as inevitably gets personal rather quickly as one starts criticizing roles that can be very dear to people. That said I think it is a vitally important topic as press teams without a sense of purpose will almost always fail, regardless of available talent. The Governing Body recently released an insightful paper on the role of journalists with which I fully agree as they conclude that in many cases â€œwe could easily stop inviting journalists to sessions and nothing would changeâ€?. The paper also highlights the role struggle within press teams, a lack of unique content across sessions, replacement of less serious articles with political commentary and performance evaluation often being based on design and layout of a paper. I personally believe that a session is always for the delegates and thus the press team should always focus on what would have a positive impact on the delegatesâ€™ session experience; be it helpful information, picture taking, session videos or other creative activities. Finally, I have never read any of the serious articles at a session I have attended, although I am still willing to write them -Oscar
THE ROLE OF JOURNALISM IN EYP
Like the spy of the session… You can see him running everywhere, with his camera always on and his hand, occupied with a notepad. You will see him taking pictures endlessly and writing down whatever catches his attention or crosses his mind. He is curious! Seriously curious and his curiosity won’t be fulfilled until he enters every single discussion of the committee or until he brainstorms you with questions. At some point, you will see him being funny and social and at the other point you’ll find him serious, sitting somewhere on his own and writing on his pc – he is keeping back-ups. That’s the profile of a journo of the session! Actually, being a journo is one of the most interesting, flexible and at the same time responsible positions of an EYP session. Personally, I do believe that the journo has to keep balance between the funny and the serious part of the session. His critical thinking will guide him through his attempt to write down the important moments of the session and to comment in his articles on serious European stuff. The result of his inspired work of a strong and united press team, the newspaper of the session, is one of the things that remains after the end of an EYP session, enclosing all this stuff that will treat the Post-EYP-depression symptoms of the delegates and the officials. -Dora
I have a strange relationship with the whole EYP-experience. That is to say I don’t really look forward to a session as it approaches. I think of all the hard work I will be doing and my head just fills up with worst case scenarios and fear of not being able to live up to the expectations. This attitude changes when I arrive at a session. I get inspired, my brains start to itch and the only way of scratching is thought, speech and cultural crosspollination. That’s what makes EYP so special: work is play. As a delegate you easily wear out – hard work requires hard play – and you tend to forget and suck up every experience of the session circus. Not to worry, journalists got your backs, for we are the ones who monitor everything, and we bring it to you in the form of a paper. This might seem silly now, but it will not once the session is over. When suffering from post-EYP depression you can always turn to the paper. And while the session is nearing, I find comfort in the knowledge I will be part of the team collecting great memories for you. -Hendrik
FIRST TIME What is this thing called EYP? It is very hard to explain it to an ‘outsider’. To really grasp the meaning of the whole experience you have to live it. Flashback, 2 years ago, my first session, the Belgian National Selection 2010.
Hendrik Wittock (BE)
Arriving at the youth hostel, we dropped off our bags in a total chaos. We waited around a bit, excited for what would come, not really knowing what to expect. We were told we would go to the teambuilding venue first. “What and why?” These were the questions I asked myself while I was sitting on the stairs of the Botanique. As it turned out ‘building a team’ means two things. In the first phase, you make yourself look ridiculous and lose all your restraint – well that’s the point. In the second phase, you solve difficult problems as a team – or you should anyway. Fun. Sadly for me there’s no denying the fact that it helps a great deal in what comes next. What comes next is committee work. I got into a little bit of a fight about something random. You see? No restraint. We wrote a (beginning of a) new resolution and enjoyed our coffee breaks. How I love coffee breaks. You all take a moment to sit down and talk about everything you’re processing. You can do the same during Eurovillage while tasting all sorts of delicacies. Let’s be honest, Belgium is one tiny country. One would think it is difficult to impress the other delegates with own regional specialties. One would be wrong. I have never witnessed such a diversity of beers as I saw back then. The next morning it felt strange to dress up in a suit – that is a vest and jeans. I mean me? A suit? Anyway it did give a nice ‘official’ touch to it. Coincidentally I was one of the only delegates sleeping in the officials’ hostel, which was a different one from the delegates’. I sometimes think this introduction to the ‘behind the scenes’ of a session is why I still do it. I remember the final evening talking to one of this year’s head-organisers, who was a journalist back then, laughing about her hometown ‘Zwevegem’. Maybe it was because I was feeling quite lightheaded that I thought ‘floating town’ was funny. Lastly, there’s the whirlwind of General Assembly. The thrill of the debate is one I can’t compare to any other. It was a game to me, though I was stressed all the time. I lost a good 3 kilos in 3 days. When I did my sum-up speech I was still preparing it when the board asked me if I was ready. I told them ‘Just a moment…’. They told me ‘No, now.’. So I went up there, in front of the entire GA, with only some words written down. Not even a fully developed structure of introduction, body and conclusion. But I pulled it off. Or is it ‘bluffed’ it off ? When the session came to an end the jury announced the chosen delegations for an international session. You can’t imagine what it meant to me and the rest of my committee that we were chosen – especially because we had told the jury we weren’t interested in going. “We had worked enough already.” To conclude let me try a sum-up speech for you, former ‘outsiders’. What is this thing called EYP? It is losing your restraint, working as a team, (literally) tasting other cultures, similar but still so diverse, debating and playing. Go out there and live it.
BRUSSELSGHENT What’s a Belgian with more than one brain cell? Pregnant. What’s the difference between a Belgian and a picture? A picture is developed. What happened when a Belgian tried to blow up a bus? He burned his mouth. Why do they have dikes and dunes in Belgium? Otherwise the Belgians keep walking into the sea. How do Belgians launch a ship? One holds a bottle of champagne and thousands push the ship into it. How does a Belgian get out of a tree? He sits on a leaf, waiting for it to become fall. Louise van Benschop (NE)
For decades, Belgian people have been the center of mockery by its neighbouring countries. The people that have been described by Julius Caesar as the bravest he’s ever fought a battle with, have now mutated into a stereotype of modest, hardworking, Burundian, beerdrinking people. Always regarded as simple, naïve and certainly dumb, as a people they have a reputation of being easily mislead. Besides this however, Belgium, with its ten million inhabitants, is also regarded as very special. This due to the way, after the separation of Flanders and The Netherlands in 1830, the French speaking Wallonia and the Dutch speaking Flanders have formed one successful country. Whether this aggregation has ever been complete, is however highly doubted, since there is not only a difference in language, but also in culture and wealth. This national selection conference is taking place in both the Dutch speaking Ghent as the French speaking Brussels. With Ghent being ‘the’ town for students, and Brussels being ‘the’ town for business, both cities are very different. Ghent is a city where the medieval atmosphere is well contained, with an old center and characteristic buildings. From the year 1000 till 1500 Ghent was the biggest town of the Netherlands, defeating London or Cologne. Brussels on the other hand, is a fast-growing city with an historical center surrounded by modern buildings, each one taller than the one before. The city is the administrative center of the European Union and is thereby considered as the capital of Europe. Brussels most famous inhabitant is probably Manneken Pis.
Top Tip: Everyone who visits Belgium should pay a visit to a ‘Frietkot’, a typical landmark to be found throughout the country, and taste some of Belgium’s famous fries.
BLAME GAME At the moment we seem to see blame everywhere in our world. Movements such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street along with general public opinion are often focused on attaching blame for our current socio-economic and political mess. It is natural for us to seek a guilty party to answer for our recent troubles. The fact that we certainly don’t blame ourselves and that we often don’t understand the full scale of our issues makes finger-pointing all the more tempting. Oscar Stenbom (SE)
Out of the current suspect gallery of politicians and bankers there still seems to be something more profound missing. There is a prevailing sense that something deeper has gone wrong. It is a quiet voice at the back of our heads wondering how on earth things managed to veer off course so quickly, without anyone noticing. It is the subtle realisation that our future is not all rosy figures of increasing prosperity and decreasing poverty. When the fear of terrorism gripped us at the beginning of the 21st century, as we quietly suppressed the dangers of global warming, we still had a reasonably bright future secured by economic growth to look forward to. Now even this is gone. Somehow the real lesson from the array of problems we face has been buried under a heap of accusations rooted in self-pity. We are blind to the fact that WE HAVE COLLECTIVELY GONE OFF THE RAILS. There is no better example of this than Greece, caught in a cycle of blame between politicians, bankers, ratings agencies, the EU and the IMF. Many Greeks, like most of us, are desperately trying to attach blame to someone or something be it Greek leaders, Berlin or the dark forces of untethered capitalism. Although our political leaders have undoubtedly been misguided we seem to hold our governments responsible for not preventing an unforeseen crisis. We have detached ourselves from any kind of public responsibility – we didn’t want the good times to end and we’ll be damned if it is our fault that they’re ending. By allowing ourselves to take social progress for granted, by delegating all responsibility elsewhere, we think we can make ourselves unaccountable for any problems along the way. Simply put, we have become a dormant global constituency, happy to put our feet up and let our problems sort themselves out. This has even recently evolved to widespread and complete political apathy in the face of the magnitude of our current and future woes. The only group of people seemingly willing to force any real change, characterized by the Arab Spring and Spain’s Indignados, are the young. It is ironic that the group of society least responsible for today’s problems is the remaining engine for change, probably because they have the most to lose. Unfortunately, young people don't have the gift of foresight either which is why any real progress will only come from the combined efforts of society as a whole. The frustration at the lack of willingness by politicians and the general public alike are echoed in this summer’s riots across England. That the government’s response was to blame ASBO stamped youth is a sure sign of the ludicrous blame game we have been playing. The truth is that we have been lied to – Gordon Brown famously promised us the elimination of boom and bust. However, we refuse to assume any responsibility for allowing ourselves to be misguided. Until we stop pointing our fingers at others and point them at ourselves we will never be able to put right what is obviously wrong. The alternative of blind naivety for years to come is bleak enough without the scale of our current social, political and economic disarray.
EUROPEAN WEALTH Economies are like falling dominos - as they have been characterised several times, but it is certain, as weird as it may sound, that many of us don’t really know, where Europe’s wealth lies!
Dora Markati (GR)
“Europe’s wealth is its diversity; Europe’s strength is its openness”. When reading or listening to that phrase –which I actually find really inspiring- what crosses my mind is that the European Union is not just a market or a currency or even algebra of legislative agreements. The European Union is a beautiful “concept” above treaties or laws. Within the EU, walls have been broken down and nations have united in the idea of having a common culture and view of their future. Europe is rich. Taking into account the common cultural heritage of the European countries and the variety of traditions and languages in the EU, Europe should be considered wealthy. However, what makes Europe strong against time and difficulties, as far as its unity is concerned, is its openness to every single culture, knowledge and social progress. Being a European citizen is not something you have to live with because of your past or your origins, but something you have to enjoy because of your future! What Europeans enjoy by experiencing their citizenship is the fact that they can put themselves in the place of “the other”. And what they do consider highly important is realizing that intercultural dialogue brings the desired communication among different communities in Europe. After the establishment of the European Union with the treaty of Maastricht in 1992 unanimity is considered to be the most required element in decision-making procedures. That’s why cooperation in the EU on a political level could be characterised, in a way, as a mixture of clear future plans and insights, together with understanding and respect between European countries. And it is at this point, that the cultivation of tolerance and the creation of really strong bonds between the countries of the European Union are demanded. That’s why the EU member states have a long way to run if they want to reach a satisfying level of political cooperation and unity in their action plans.
For taking the time to read the welcome issue of UNDEFINED
Enjoy the 18th Belgian National Selection Conference 2012
This paper would have been blank without Oscar Stenbom Hendrik Wittock Louise Van Benschop Dora Markati
And this session would not be taking place without Jonathan Piepers Head Organiser Janne Vanhemmens Head Organiser Céline Vermeire Head Organiser Matteo Van Dijl Organiser Eva Verbeeck Organiser Hannes Rooms Organiser
Edited by Monika Ghosh