ETSN Youth Platform Summary

Zsuzsanna Szilágyi

What has the Youth Platform given me?

The establishment of the Youth Platform of the ETSN, goes back to the European Youth Summit organised in connection with the ECHA conference of 2016. This was the first time the youth from the ETSN Talent Centres met at a summit. Afterwards, Youth Summits were organised annually, the second one in Budapest, in 2017, in the frame of a talent support camp, the next one in 2018, in Dublin, on the sidelines of the ECHA conference and in 2019 in Dubrovnik, on that of the first thematic ECHA conference.

At these meetings, the participants can establish life-long friendships and international contacts, and their work in an international environment as well as opportunities to familiarise with other cultures and education systems is often an asset for their future career. In addition to meeting their peers, they also get acquainted with iconic figures of international talent support.

The young people active in the Youth Platform were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic: they have had no opportunity to meet personally since the 2019 Summit. The 2020 Summit had to be cancelled due to the border crossing restrictions, and online discussions could not replace personal contacts for the Youth Platform participants, in particular since their time at the Platform is limited anyway by their age and life conditions.

Even in 2021, there will be no more than a single online Summit, that is  organised by the ETSN Centres together with the organising staff of the Porto ECHA conference. Programmes are being developed continuously until the beginning of the on-line Summit.

According to our plans, 47 students from 15 countries will take part at the international meeting in 2021. Lets listen to some students about their experience in the Youth Platform:

Summary of Csenge Földvári-Nagy

I am Csenge Földvári-Nagy, I am 23 years old, and I have just graduated in Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Birmingham.

The YP has given me a lot. First of all, I met my mentor, Vilmos Benkő, with whom I have been in contact ever since and who supports me on my journey, but the contact system I have established thanks to this programme is also most important. Contrary to the experience of my school years, during the YP events I have learned not to be afraid of others: I could get in touch with anyone more knowledgeable than I am, and request guidance and assistance. Just because someone is ahead of me, I do not have to fear that person, who is also a human being, just like me. As for the practical skills, such as presentation technique and mentoring, the programme gave me knowledge that I have been using daily ever since then.

My “career” has just started when I left the programme. I took on many tasks at university, such as helping other students with their learning tasks, representing my fellow-students to lecturers, organising events for the student circle of my programme as academic officer, evaluating teacher applications and promoting the integration of international students, to mention but a few. I have acquired the knowledge that made me capable of helping first-year students in their studies by answering their questions or guiding them to the answers at the YP.

What is my favourite recollection? Experience acquired at the European Youth Summit, including a visit to the 15th ECHA Conference.

Summary of Lilla Harangozó

I am Lilla Harangozó, a 21-year-old graduate of International Relations at Corvinus University of Budapest. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I will continue my studies in European and International Governance at Vrije Universitet Brussel.

I joined Youth Platform in the spring of 2017 as a delegate of my former school, Garay János Grammar School of Szekszárd. I have taken part in talent support since I was in lower grades, mainly in the fields of Hungarian and of foreign languages, and I continued my activity in secondary school. I have been an active member of the self-governments of my schools since Grade 5, and this has taught me to organise events of various sizes and to work in a community. All in all, I consider myself a very open, social and purposeful person who would do her best to achieve her goals.

The Youth Platform gave me a lot in the past 4 years. When I participated at the first meeting in Budapest, I was a complete stranger to everything and everyone, but we have soon found a common voice and I became the member of a small family. By the time of the 2018 Dublin Meeting, I was one of the five students who organised their own YP programmes. The last face-to-face meeting took place in Dubrovnik in 2019, and that was also a great experience for me.

During the few days of the meetings, we have always had opportunities for “entertainment” in addition to work: to tour Croke Park, then attend a reception, or just swim in the Adriatic in early October after a rich day. My fondest memory is also associated with Dubrovnik: on our last evening, we walked to the harbour of the old town and talked there for hours, looking at the sea and the wonderful city.

Through these meetings, I have learned a lot not only about myself, but also about others. Being a member of an international team helps you acquire the skills that will make it easy for you to adapt to others while also enforcing your own will. I have gained an insight into the opportunities available to the talented youth of other countries to unfold their abilities, something that we could also profit from.

Recently, I have placed most emphasis on my university studies as well as building my future. I spent half a year in Brussels on an Erasmus scholarship, and as intern in the European Parliament at the same time. In both places, I benefited from the qualities acquired through the Youth Platform, as I was not unfamiliar with the international environment at the university, and I was able to make full use of all my experience so far in my work.

Unfortunately, I haven’t met personally the people I’ve had these experiences with in a long time, but I’m sure if I needed anything, a message would be enough for someone to help me. I believe that once someone becomes a member of this team, it will have a place in it forever.