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29-04-2010

St Mary's College Galway travel to Strasbourg

Secondary school students from St Mary's College, Galway, will participate in the Euroscola programme on 29 April in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.  They will be accompanied by their teachers  Bartley Fannin and Maura Geoghegan.

Joining other secondary schools from EU member states, they will spend the day exchanging ideas on various topics and experiencing what it is like to be a Member of the European Parliament : Read all about their trip below:

Pictured in the above photograph are:
Back row L - R: Ronan Higgins, Aengus O'Curraidhín, James Casserly,
Alex O'Toole, Myles Upton, Brian Madden and Colm Byrne.
Front row: James McMahon, David Mooney, Paul Colleran, Fiachra
Davoren, Harry Goulding, Conor Duffy and Kevin Naughton

"Euroscola - 29th April 2010

Our trip to the European Parliament in Strasbourg gave us a great insight into how the European Parliament functions. There were 15 students from St. Mary's College in Galway who represented Ireland. There were 22 other schools from the European Union participating in the Euroscola day so there were roughly 600 students in total there.
We were separated from our teachers for the day and expected to fend for ourselves among the students from the other schools. However, after a daunting start we found our feet and in the end we were very confidant speaking in the Parliament.
Initially, we were brought into the hemicycle, and that in itself was very impressive. Officials from the Parliament spoke to us about how the Parliament operates. Each official could speak in at least three languages so we put on our headphones to listen to the translators anytime they spoke in a foreign language. We also got to see how the system of voting works in the parliament and voted on several proposals.
Each school was introduced by a student and he or she had to stand at the podium and speak in a language that was not his / her mother tongue. Keith Fallon was our representative and he had learned his speech off-by-heart in French. When it came to his turn his speech was translated into German and English as he spoke. He sounded very impressive although he admitted afterwards that it was the most nerve-wrecking thing he had ever done!
During our lunch we had to get into groups where no-one was from the same country. This was part of the Euroquiz which consisted of 18 questions in different languages. For the Irish group it meant we had to try to communicate in French a lot more but fortunately most of the other students had quite a bit of English too. At the end of the day one of our students, Ronan Higgins, was in the Euroquiz final. Unfortunately he didn't win but we had fun watching him and his group up on the podium.
After lunch, we were split into our 6 working groups for the serious work! We had to discuss various topics relevant to the EU, such as, how to combat poverty and social exclusion and EU employment policies. We had to elect a chairperson for the group as well as a speaker. This in itself was a difficult task as there were so many who wanted to undertake the roles. It gave us an insight into how difficult it can be for EU representatives to get consensus on policies, proposals etc.. as each person was vying for his / her country. Each group had to discuss the topics assigned and then had to make a proposal as to how to solve the problem. The discussions in each group were quite heated at times, especially, considering the fact that no-one knew each other prior to the trip. After the discussion we went back into the hemicycle and the chairperson of each group introduced the topic. The speaker for the group put forward the proposal(s), the proposal was open to discussion among the 600 candidates and then the candidates voted on the proposal. One of our students, Myles Upton, was elected as one of the six speakers. This was impressive indeed considering he had to be elected by the other members of the group. Myles put forward the proposals on the employment policy and more than 550 people voted that it be accepted. Another one of our students, Fiachra Davoren, argued on the floor that the proposals regarding democracy and citizenship were flawed as did many other candidates. As a result, this proposal was rejected much to the annoyance of the group who had put it forward.
The day came to an end after a summary by EU officials, the final of the Euroquiz and the European anthem being sung. Each student received a certificate signed by the President of the European Parliament.
In all, it was a busy, eventful, and enjoyable day. Although it was only a glimpse it did give us a good idea of how the European Parliament works. We were mentally drained at the end of the day, but we had enjoyed ourselves and made contacts with many foreign students. A very worthwhile trip!"

Students of St. Mary's College, Galway, Ireland





 

For further information, please contact Marie Quinn at epdublin@europarl.europa.eu.