Between October 5th and 7th, a group of students from our school traveled to Strasbourg in France for a day in the European Parliament, as part of the Euroscola initiative. We were joined by students from all over Europe. This tour, subsidised by the EU, was won by the Saint Joseph's debating team in Dublin Castle last February. On October 6th, we entered the building bright and early, where we were greeted with some breakfast. After this, we entered the massive "Hemicycle" (the room where the politicians discuss the topics at hand). Here we were treated to speeches by students representing each school there – a fascinating experience. Meaghan Peter represented Ireland and delivered a great speech signifying who and what we are. We then had a discussion and question & answer session with Rainer Wieland, Vice President of the European Parliament, before we were given the chance to interact with other schools in a quiz, which required us to use many different languages. Then we were divided into a number of groups, each dealing with a key issue of our time, such as development aid, human rights, and youth employment; we then had to draw up policy reform proposal on each topic. This proved captivating, as we got to see a multitude of opinions and insights from all over Europe. After each group elected two spokespeople, we channeled back into the hemicycle, where these spokespeople presented these ideas and proposals to all the other groups. One of the spokespeople elected was our own Michael Fitzgerald, who put forward a speech on security and human rights. We were then given a chance to use the voting machines used by the MEPs, when voting on whether or not to accept theses presented proposals. The day was finished up by an entertaining quiz show as a single to the quiz we took part in earlier. On the other two days of the trip, we visited the cities of Strasbourg and Heidelberg, which featured beautiful architecture, fascinating culture, and a microcosm of a changing Europe in the heartland of the continent – the Rhineland. Overall, the trip was extraordinary, and something that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. It made us realise we are not only citizens of Ireland, but also of Europe, and the world.

Ethan Delaney