Youth European Leadership Workshops

Insights into the Workshops in Brussels.

The Youth European Leadership Workshops (YELW) took place from March 3rd-5th in Brussels and aimed at negotiation and training for the development of youth as well as exchange between young professionals and officials and team building. A great chance to leave theory behind and put abilities into practice and to improve key-skills in high demand in international careers. The YELW split into three parts: Think! Speak! Negotiate! Concluding the participants visited NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Think! Critical Thinking Workshop, March 3

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Groupwork at the YELW.

What is an argument? A series of premises, followed by a conclusion. Simple. Or is it? The objective was to equip participants with the analytical tools to analyze and challenge arguments – and construct their own. To see these concepts in practice, we looked at how Polish foreign minister Radoslav Sikorski used emotional references to Europe’s turbulent history in his famous appeal to Germany to assume her leadership role in Europe made by in 2011. This contrasted with the neutral, fact-based arguments laid out by senior economic adviser Sir Nicholas Macpherson to make his case to British chancellor George Osborne against the creation of a monetary union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom in the event of Scottish Independence.

Our guest speakers Erik Dale and Pia Huettl from Bruegel think tank gave participants a brief overview of their most recent policy briefs and publications on major economic and policy issues such as the European Banking Union, net neutrality, talent training and immigration in Europe.

The afternoon sessions covered practical aspects of international negotiations, using the examples of clean coal financing to illustrate the current dynamic of environment and climate change negotiations and the example of youth unemployment to stress the role of critical thinking and the importance of cultural and national preferences in the way policy makers and civil society organizations are addressing this issue.

Speak! Public Speaking Workshop, Tuesday March 4

How can you use your whole body to support your message? How do you enter a room calmly and with dignity? How do you cope with difficult journalists heckling you at a press conference?

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Presentation by Flóra Rétvalvi.

Flóra Rétfalvi led the sessions covering all these questions and more – giving each participant individual feedback in front of the group in order to help them and the whole group learn more effectively. Participant Sabrina Göschl commented, “I love that we have do it ourselves, not just sitting there getting confronted by a lot of theories… we learnt about how to position ourselves, how to work with our hands and our bodies… Flóra told us that we should use our natural movements, and that really helped”.

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Participants put theory into practive.

Putting into practice what they had just learned, everyone divided into groups, each one representing Russia, France, Germany, Hungary and the United States. In the space of a few minutes, each group presented its position on the situation in Ukraine, with each team member presenting part of their country’s position. Nicholas Wolkonsky, a Y20 delegate and French national who has spent a year living in Moscow commented, “I learned how to move, how to react, how to keep an audience’s attention”. Commenting specifically on the Crimea debate exercise, he adds, “I was representing Russia, so it was very interesting because I had to understand the Russian point of view on the situation in Ukraine”.

Negotiate! Public speaking workshops, Wednesday March 5

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Presentation by Zana Nanic.

Zana Nanic led the participants through a series of stimulating negotiation. Your child wants to join a civil rights protest but you are concerned they will get into trouble with the police – how do you persuade him or her to stay at home whilst respecting their individual choice – and the limits of your influence?

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Learning to say 'hi'.

The sessions started out by presentations and discussions with Dr. Patryk Pawlak and Dr. Nicu Popescu, both Senior Analysts at the European Institute for Security Studies, focussing on the EU-Russian relationships as well as cyper-security. Using the tactics of finding value-adding solutions participants negotiated in small groups. Afterwards all participants re-joined to assess the different outcomes and which negotiation strategies had been applied.

Concluding visit to NATO

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NATO group visit.

Concluding the YELW the participants met with Guna Snore, NATO public relations officer, who briefed us about the some of the repercussions of the Crimea crisis for NATO. She commented on the fact that previously fruitful collaborative efforts between Russia and NATO had been frozen, specifically co-ordinated anti-terrorism activities in Afghanistan and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria.