Two weeks ago, I took part in a programme for young language students all over Scotland called ‘Euroscola’. Funded by my local rotary club, the programme allows for a group of students studying Advanced Higher languages to represent their country at the European parliament in Strasbourg.
The trip required us to try and speak in French as much as possible, whilst also introducing us to the city of Strasbourg and Alsatian culture. For example, one day we were asked to do surveys on the streets of Strasbourg, which was especially difficult due to the unique Alsatian dialect spoken in the city. Among visiting the stunning Cathedral and canal in the heart of the city, we were also given ample opportunities to shop and feast on local delicacies, such as the tarte flambée, ‘ce n’était pas mon expérience préférée du voyage !’
However the highlight of the trip was the day we spent at the European Parliament. With 25 of the 27 EU member states represented, sitting in the hemisphere was absolutely breath-taking. The morning allowed each nation to introduce themselves before opening the floor up to a question and answer session.
After lunch, we broke off into smaller committee like groups with each nation being represented. Each group had to discuss a different European issue such as ‘Immigration and Integration’, ‘Environmental Policy’ or ‘The Media’. My topic was ‘2013, the year of the European Citizen’. Although I initially found it to be a rather vast topic, the group discussed current issues such as Gay Marriage, Drug Legalisation and the role of Religion and Languages. These ideas were then brought to the floor of the hemisphere and discussed by all 600 representatives, much like they would be with real MEPs and genuine bills. The experience was quite surreal, but I was able to bring myself to debate the various ideas being exchanged in the Hemisphere. An accomplishment I am very much proud of.
Overall, my trip to Strasbourg and the European Parliament was the best opportunity I’ve ever had to experience another culture and discuss politics on a continental level. It has greatly aided my spoken French, whilst also reinforced my original love of languages, which I will be studying at Edinburgh University as of September this year. ‘J’aurais voulu rester plus longtemps et c’était une expérience que je n’oublierai jamais !’
Lewis Robertson, Advanced Higher French pupil & Torridon House Captain