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EYP in-school session at GM

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On Thursday 28th and Friday, 29th September 2017, the first European Youth Parliament (EYP) in-school session of Switzerland took place in the Gymnasium am Münsterplatz. The EYP is an organization for students aged 14-18 that provides a neutral platform for debating European politics and promoting self-development of the young students, thus allowing them to practice their rhetoric skills in parliamentary simulations. Around 35 000 students across Europe come together every year to form new acquaintances.

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Previously, the students of 3A and 3B of the GM were given the choice among four controversial topics, namely “How can the EU tackle the immigration crisis (LIBE1)?”, “What role should nuclear power have in ensuring a sustainable and reliable energy supply for Europe (ENVI)?”, “What measures should European Institutions take to help the Member States in the fight against illegal drug markets (CRIM)?”, and “To what extent should DNA editing be allowed (LIBE2)?”. According to every student’s individual choice, four committees were formed.

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On Thursday afternoon, each group was assigned an EYP official (chairperson), who would supervise their work. The task of each group was to devise a resolution to their chosen topic and present it in the General Assembly (GA), who made critical rebuttals.

The next day started ludic elements e.g. the Moose Song, a fun and engaging way for students to become more acquainted with each other. While at first most participants were timid, the ice was broken quickly and smiles were spread across everyone’s faces. Since in EYP team work is a key requirement, these activities were very important.

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On Friday afternoon, highly motivated and well prepared students presented their resolutions. Each committee did so in the operative clause and in the defense speech (which both lasted three minutes). In the defense speech the committee could further elaborate their resolution. Subsequently, the other committees had the opportunity to disagree in the attack speech and the open debate. In the summation speech the committee summarized the resolution. Finally, all students took a vote to decide if the resolution passed.

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The first committee to present their resolution was LIBE1. They proposed to increase funding for neighbouring countries and thus prevent illegal immigration, a resolution which did not pass. Since it was the first debate for all students they were shy at first.

Next ENVI proposed the closure of nuclear power plants pointing out how dangerous nuclear energy is; it produces immense amounts of waste and has been the cause for several major accidents up to now. This resolution passed.

CRIM proposed that drugs should stay illegal because they have a deep-reaching negative influence on people. They believe drug use can be prevented by introducing harsh punishments and building rehabilitation centers. This resolution did not pass.

LIBE 2 argued that DNA editing is unethical because it could be misused to create a superior race (mainly the rich), children could be tailored according to eugenic ideas, and the research results would not allow us to see the possible consequences of DNA editing. This resolution passed.

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The short EYP session introduced the students to a new working environment. The delegates were given the opportunity to tackle complex topics and provide a valid resolution in a short time. Furthermore, they could use and improve their rhetoric skills in front of a large audience. These skills are not only essential in the EYP simulation, but also for succeeding in a corporate environment where efficient problem solving and to convey ideas to an unfamiliar audience are paramount abilities.

Peter Horcic, 3A

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