Ms Duggan writes:

It has been a busy half term for junior and senior debaters at St Columba’s. Thursday night, saw the juniors Caleb Swanepoel, Caroline Hager, Tyrone Shi and Alex Hinde head for UCD with Ms Morley for the second round of the Junior Schools Debating Competition. The next round of the Junior House Debating Competition will see a change in format due to the increasing number of students keen to get involved. The seniors have been very active as well. Last weekend twelve students from St Columba’s attended the Dublin Session of the European Youth Parliament. For many of them it was their first experience of this kind of event. One of the first timers give a report of the event below. We are looking forward to seeing more students getting involved in the next half of term.

And Gioia Doenhoff from Transition Year writes about ‘My first experience of the European Youth Parliament’

Friday

Friday was the first day of the Dublin Session of the European Youth Parliament and most of us were quite nervous and so stuck to our own school group a lot. We started with a short series of games led by the chairmen to warm all of us up a bit. We were then separated into our committees that we had chosen beforehand and led into separate rooms. The topics on the committees were all current issues, for example, foreign affairs, education or constitutional issues. Everyone was able to choose a committee that they were interested in, so everyone was invested in the topic.

There I began familiarizing myself with the rest of my committee with whom I would be working with for the next two days. They were from schools all around Dublin: Alexandra College, Blackrock College, Stratford College etc. Our committee was one of the biggest with nine people, so you really got to know everyone. We didn’t actually start working right away though as we started off with team building exercises that involved very many name games, but also ones where we had to reach group consensus on some topics. This proved to be harder than expected. We had a great chairman so it was a lot of fun during the day as it was very casual and comfortable.

Saturday

This was the day the work began. After a short period of time spent researching the Palestine Israel conflict, LGBTQ+ problems or Brexit we all gathered all our main points on small post it notes. These were put on one big flipchart and after ordering them into categories we split up into small groups to handle them. Out of these sentences were constructed which would later be refined by the group and then formatted to our list of clauses, or simply points explaining our view on the matter. Two lists came out of this, our list of problems and our list of resolutions. This day was definitely the most exhausting and on the way back to St Columba’s College we were all really tired, but looking forward to presenting our ideas the next day.

Sunday

As soon as we arrived it got right off to business as the first committee started presenting their solutions on the their researched topic (Brexit)I expected it to be really tiring to listen all of the debates but it turned out to be really interesting as it was a whole new type of debating where the floor was allowed to get incredibly involved, constantly giving points and even attacking speeches. This was completely new to me because I’m used to the old British Parliamentary style with minimal intervention from the floor.
When we presented our resolution it took a different turn than we had expected-  we did not receive the attacks that we had prepared for. Our motion ended up getting dismissed with 50:40 (votes?). This was not a surprise as it was the relatively controversial topic of the Isreal Palestine conflict. It was still very eye opening, both the actual debate as the research of our topic.

Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of EYP as I got to meet loads of new people and saw debating from a whole new perspective-  the aim at EYP was to have an open discussion and gather support rather than defeat the opposition. The food was actually pretty good and the conversations always interesting. I’m looking forward to next year when I hope to get to go again.