„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


13th February 2017

"2017’s YO!Fest, a key highlight of Europe Calling - a year of events to mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Maastricht treaty - brought together 3,000 young people to debate key topics on the future of Europe."

Talking about politics, human rights and European policies in cinemas and theatres? Everything is possible in Maastricht (The Netherlands). On 7th of February the Maastricht Treaty had its 25th birthday. Thousands of young people from all over Europe gathered in the cultural area of the city for YO!Fest 2017 to celebrate this historical achievement.

The Maastricht Treaty transformed the European Community into the European Union as we know it today. It was the kick-starter of creating one currency: the euro. 25 years later the young participants of YO!Fest reflected on these achievements together with Members of the European Parliament, Council-members and NGO's. As a hosting country me and three other Y-people, travelled to the deep south of our country for a day full of debates, brainstorms, workshops and fun.

The festival had a huge and divers programme; impossible to attend everything. The four of us split up and followed our personal interests. National volunteer Willemien attended lectures about development work, Ed (former president op YMCA Europe) listened to YO!Talks, set up like TED Talks, (with the very inspiring Alaa Murabit, Google her) and local volunteer Matthijs soaked up the atmosphere, practiced his English and got inspiration for his local YMCA. As a trainee of YMCA Nederland, I met up with local NGO's, to strengthen our partnership and see their projects with the local teenagers from Maastricht (NJR).

All-in-all it was a successful and inspiring day. As a person growing up in a border-area myself, the whole set up in Maastricht as a triple-border area was very interesting. How can we make sure that borders erase, but we keep our autonomy? And how can we support cross-border volunteering? Maybe through the new European Solidarity Corps? Lots of questions and critique remain. One thing is for sure: in these times of negativity and doubt events like these help create knowledge about the working of the EU and connect young people across borders.

Author/Source: Judith Witmer, YEO-trainee YMCA Nederland