MSYP’s taste of Norwegian democracy

Shetland MSYP NICOLE MOUAT reports from the International Democracy Project planning meeting in Norway, which she attended recently with SIC youth empowerment and participation worker Martin Summers.

Martin and I headed to Sumburgh on Thursday 4th June to begin our journey.

The long six-hour wait at Aberdeen Airport gave us even more time to build up excitement, and we couldn’t wait to get to Norway.

We finally reached Bergen at around 9pm. Eager to get some sleep before meeting the people we would be spending the weekend with, we headed to the bus. Later finding out that we were at the wrong bus stop, we missed our bus, resulting in us only reaching our destination at 11pm.

On Friday we did some shopping before meeting the Lithuanians who were getting involved in the project, and a Norwegian who was involved in the organising. In the afternoon we got a minibus with them, a young Greek girl and her father, as well as a young Norwegian and two adults.

That evening we had some tea, and got to know each other as a few more joined our small group. We had a chat about where we were all from and then some of us went out to do some kayaking. This was great fun and we really got to know each other a lot better.

The work started on Saturday. We had to come up with an idea for a project which young people in our areas would get involved with. We had a brainstorm about democracy, and decided we would put all these ideas on a website.

Our idea is to produce a website which will include information about democracy in a few countries around Europe, the history of democracy and a “bulletin board” on which young people can share their views. From this website, we hope to produce a leaflet which will contain opinions from the bulletin board and how politicians feel about this. These ideas are not set in stone and still may change, but to date this is the plan.

The two young Norwegians and I showed our true Viking heritage by having a swim in the sea. The Lithuanians stared at us in amazement as they sat in their jackets and scarves, saying how mad we were and that they were cold. We had a great time splashing around, but soon the work had to carry on.

We got a name for our project: YEP standing for Young European Politics. Even a slogan to match: “Say YEP to democracy.”

When we had to leave on Sunday it was very sad. We were only starting to get to know each other and it would have been nice to have another night together. We put our last few hours together to good use, organising final arrangements before the application to go ahead with the project is written and sent.

On the way to the airport our taxi broke down. It was another memory to add to the many from the weekend. We all sat in the Norwegian sun until we managed to flag down the airport bus to pick us up. We all caught our separate flights, and went our different ways, but hope that the project gets the go ahead from the EU, and we’re able to meet up in the spring of next year. Views that were put across in debates over the weekend were really interesting, and give us something to think about. The project as a whole has given us something to work on along with the young people of Shetland. The work will benefit them as it will promote democracy which is what we need to shape our future.

We would like to thank the Youth Action Programme, Youth Services and the Shetland Islands Council.


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