Alba Escala - Euroscola
Thu 25th May 2017 at 18.00 - 20.30
Following the decision of the UK to leave the European Union, members of the Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Rotary Club were intrigued to hear from Alba Escala, a sixth-former from Dunblane High School, who had recently returned from Strasbourg. Alba had been selected as one of the 25 Scottish Euroscolas, supported by Rotary, who would join some 600 young people drawn from the EU countries to visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg. There they would have an opportunity to discuss the work of the EU, and the affect that membership of the EU could have (or, in the case of the United Kingdom, will not have) on their future.
On arrival in Strasbourg, the group had an opportunity to do some sightseeing and to familiarize themselves with the local landmarks. The following day, the programme involved preparation for a meeting with MEPs – to be conducted in French – which would be followed by a meeting later in the day with a Scottish MEP to discuss environmental issues. But before that, the group put their language skills to the test by interviewing members of the public in the Strasbourg streets, seeking their views on a range of subjects, including attitudes to the EU.
On the next day, the challenge for groups from Scotland was to create a short film showing how Strasbourg had developed as a European city. This task involved a fascinating exploration of the development of the City over the centuries, with political control oscillating between France and Germany.
The highlight of the week was, however, undoubtedly the Euroscola Day spent in the European Parliament building. The young people were divided into multinational groups, with groups required to discuss current issues including EU finance, migration, university education, the role of young people in the EU, and renewable energy. Each group then chose a spokesperson to present its conclusions to the participants assembled in a 'plenary sitting' in the Chamber of the European Parliament. Then, following a debate in the Chamber under Parliamentary procedures, a vote was taken on each of the issues discussed.
Inevitably, in the course of the visit, the issue of Brexit was raised, with speculation as to how both the EU and the UK would deal with the various crucial issues. Not surprisingly, the issue of migration was also to the fore, with some outspoken views from the representatives of countries most under pressure.
But all was not hard work: there were opportunities for some games, including one where members from different countries tested their ability to distinguish and interpret various EU languages. On the final evening, the Scottish group arranged a ceilidh as a means of setting a seal on five days of intense activity and enjoyment.
Alba reflected on the value to her – and to her colleagues – of the wonderful opportunity to meet young people from so many different backgrounds, and the chance to share with them, even for a short time, their views on the problems currently facing, and to be faced, by the Community.
Alba said that she was extremely grateful for the opportunity which the Rotary support had given her; she would always remember the experience.
Mary Fraser, Speaker’s Host, gave the vote of thanks, congratulating Alba on an excellent, comprehensive and entertaining account of her visit.