Last month, I attended my first-ever World Youth Alliance (WYA) project – Why (E)U? in Lisbon, Portugal. As a WYA Europe project management Intern, I was giddy at the prospect of attending the conference and interacting with fellow participants.
Arrival in Lisbon
When my colleagues and I arrived in Lisbon, we were blessed with bright sun, blue water, and a warm temperature. The location of our hostel was at the heart of the old city of Lisbon. Therefore, we took the opportunity to get wonderfully lost in the tiny cobble-stoned streets and ready to find surprises at every corner: little shops, restaurants, panoramic viewpoints, and eating delicious Portuguese custard tart Pastel de Nata.
The “WHY (E)U?” Conference
On the first day of the conference, we were all welcomed by Maria Ines – The organizer of the WHY (E)U? conference. She provided us with an info pack and briefed us on the agenda for the whole event. We started getting to know each other with fascinating icebreakers. Each day we had an exchange of knowledge on various topics related to Human Rights and Human Dignity. The conference covered a wide range of activities based on understanding Human right and Dignity such as the ABC of Human Rights, a case study on Critical thinking on media and press releases (we did this activity around the lake!), discussion on the European values/Identity and an amusing quiz game to understand the basics of the European Union.
Additionally, there were some sessions that involved deeper analysis such as the Debate on Freedom of Expression -” whether it should be limited or not” and the brainstorming exercise to build a problem-tree and the solution-tree. These two sessions were my favorite. For the exercise on building a problem-tree and a solution-tree we chose a current political issue faced in our country. We broke down the issue further by identifying its direct and indirect causes and effects. Then we built the solution-tree by transforming each problem into a positive situation. Personally, this exercise enabled me to see a clear picture of the factors responsible for the chosen political issue. Furthermore, it helped me build a shared sense of understanding, purpose, and action.
Food and culture
The WHY (E)U conference gave me a fantastic opportunity to experience local Portuguese cuisine. I was astounded by the management of lunch and dinner arranged by Maria Ines. I have had the chance to experience local Portuguese food by eating delicious grilled Bacalhau (codfish) and some yummy meat dishes along with fresh fruits and beverages. Additionally, we went to one of the liveliest culinary hotspots in Lisbon – the Time Out Market. The food court is acquainted with stalls from top chefs with different brands of local products, and the foods range from seafood to steak sandwiches, hamburgers, sushi, and ice cream, among other specialties. It was the ideal place to come after the workshop for food and create meaningful moments with my friends and peers.
Finally, I feel like the WHY (E)U conference did not only give me a golden opportunity to learn and exchange ideas on human rights, human dignity, and values of European identity. It also gave me an opportunity to meet new people and get insider information on their culture. This event truly gave me the feeling of happiness and satisfaction. I cannot wait to attend the next WYA event.
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Published: November 5, 2021
Written by Sanyukta Suman, Project Management Intern at WYA Europe and participant of the Why (e)U? project in Lisbon