How to hug the Hague? A bit about conference

For many people around the world the Hague it is a court, less people remember that the Hague it’s a sea 🙂 And for sure just some of you knew that between 5th and 10th of May here happen international conference “Hug the Hague” in frame of Erasmus+ program.

Participants from Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Greece, Latvia, Moldova and Poland have an opportunity to get together to discuss how youth and policy makers can cooperate.

According to many thoughts and some researches young people and policy-makers are living in different worlds and they worlds never crossing. What’s the results of this meeting? We got some recommendations for young people and policy-makers about that how to make their cooperation more effective. You can read them here.

More about events and atmosphere from Ukrainian participants is below.

Olga:

From 5th through 10th May I participated in the ‘Hug The Hague. Youth Involvement in Democratic Institutions’ conference, dedicated to cooperation of government, governing structures, and youth. It took place in Hague, the Netherlands.

I had expected to be taught something new during the event. But the concept of the conference was targeted on young people with some experience. On those, who understand the question. Which organizations do finance youth programs? Where and how does it work in their country? Etcetera.

So did I learn something new? Do such conferences make sense?

Of course, it is easier to blame the adverse circumstances, the authorities, people around for the problems. It is easier to look for excuses for your own failure, then to take part in such programs, while it is not clear whether they will bring some results or everything will remain at the stage of talking. Yes, it is. But do we want to go easy ways?

As for me, this conference was not in vain. I like going out of my shell, whenever I have a chance.

Extroverts and ambiverts, of course, won’t understand, but 50 strangers you have to interact with is already a serious challenge for an introvert. My English also faced a test. And it didn’t pass the exam.

At first, we lived in a hostel, then in houses, in a huge amusement park. There was no time to take a pause, relax, process information for the day and get ready to receive a new portion of it. We had products to cook with, however, we didn’t have enough time to prepare food. Why didn’t I have a magic pot that cooks delicious porridge [a reference to the fairy tale of Brothers Grimm]? So thanks to my body. And to all the kind people that still fed me. Special thanks for the pizza to the restaurant, which name I do not remember. It was the most delicious Margarita in my life.

Representatives of the authorities from all of participating countries came with us: Poland, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Greece, and Ukraine. In addition, on one of the days, a representative of the Netherlands attended the conference. Everyone talked a lot and nicely. Although their conversations reminded me a joke: “You are young, energetic and purposeful. You have a lot of ideas, but you do not know how to implement them. It’s a pity”. Still, I didn’t receive any answers to the question of how to interact with the government. Was I a bad listener? Is it something wrong with me? “Be active!” is what they answered to my question about what to do next. OK, I will be.

But I really liked the meeting with the ambassador of Armenia in the Netherlands and the first secretary of the Ukrainian embassy. I didn’t know what the embassies were doing before. I know now. In short, the promotion of the interests of the country. Not only the reception and assistance to citizens that got into a difficult situation. But also an attraction of investments, advertising, and popularization of an image of the state. Attracting tourists from outside.

I was upset that there were no youth representatives from the Netherlands. Are they doing well without such conversations? Or they just do not like us? So many questions — so few answers.

I liked the roads and public transport. The North Sea. A breeze that was more like a storm. That the water from the tap is potable. The slow pace of life (the locals do not hurry at all). A LOT of greenery that filled my heart with positive vibes. Friendly dogs. Cheerful children that are not afraid of extreme slides and rides. Small adults, who, apparently, have not been taught to be convenient for others.

I liked the train in Germany (we landed in Dortmund, and then took a bus and a train). Despite some problems with railways, we had arrived at the airport on time. We didn’t have to change tickets at the box office and just used the already purchased tickets.

Thanks to all participants for sharing this time and impressions with me. Thanks to the organizers for their hospitality and patience. Thank you very much to my national team, all at once and in particular to everyone. Thanks to parents for life and opportunities that are feasible thanks to their support. Thanks to my close friend Natasha Kashchenko for helping me with the English text.

Mykhailo:

Hello. The day before the departure for the Hague conference, I was frustrated, I was going with some reluctance. There were a lot of interesting things at home and the weather improved, it was warm, and in the Netherlands, according to weather forecasts, cold weather and rain. Spoilers, everything was super.

 The conference lasted only 5 days, but I have a special state, when there are interesting and many new impressions, time slows down for me, weeks passed in my head, or even a month. First of all, the participants helped me to reach this state, how many of them were all such interesting and versatile personalities, and of course my teammates from Ukraine are the best.

   The venue for the event was chosen excellent – amusement park Duinrell, which is located in the suburbs of The Hague.

A heavenly place, after the bustling Amsterdam, was very pleased with the tranquility and unity with nature. The weather was not as terrible as it was painted in forecasts, well, it’s true, it is really very changeable.

  In the early days, we got to know each other, discussed general issues, but then we had a petus party in Binnenhof – a complex of buildings in the center of The Hague, which houses the Netherlands parliament and the residence of the Prime Minister. We were given “VIP” badges, and had a tour, felt like an extremely important person. I liked the combination of the old hall of the knights and the modern parliament, very contrasted.

  On the other days, we were joined by policy makers from all participating countries. And here a serious discussion has already begun: problems of democracy, problems of politics in the context of different countries, young people in politics, problems and their solutions, asked policy makers questions and even gave them advice. The problems of all were very similar, I hope in the future we will all be able to overcome them. It was balanced, only a couple of times bored. Every evening, the two participating countries represented their country at a cultural evening. I was particularly impressed by the friends from Moldova, their incendiary presentation and dishes shocked me, now I am looking for Moldovan cuisine in Ukraine. Of course, other countries did very well, I just liked Moldova so much.

 I went home sadly. I am very grateful to the organizers for the opportunity to visit there. Be sure to send applications if you see a set for such events, you will get a lot of pleasure, knowledge and new acquaintances.

Diana:

From 5 to 10 May, there were 5 days crazy at the Hug The Hague conference. During this period, a lot of interesting things happened. We got acquainted with representatives of various organizations and countries in the game and informal form. Resettlement was very pleasing, because there was an opportunity to get acquainted with the participants better. Also at the conference we were divided into various working groups and discussed interesting and painful topics for our countries, organizations, and youth as a whole. Touched on such topics as the education system, the medical system and youth problems in cooperation with the authorities. In addition to the official part, many interesting guests who shared their experience, another interesting point was the familiarity with the national cuisine and culture of all countries. Very grateful for the impression, the acquaintance and experience that I received at this conference !!!

Vitalii:

Hug The Hague Conference. Youth Involvement in Democratic Institutions became my first experience of international youth projects that were held not in Ukraine and in general was my first experience of traveling abroad. Communication with youth workers and NGO leaders from other countries became the most valuable for me. As a result of this communication, I realized a few things. First, I need to spend more time studying English. Second, despite the fact that the problems in the youth of different countries are similar, the ways of their solution can be the most diverse. What works in Georgia can be quite useless in Ukraine and vice versa. Thirdly, as the boys from Armenia said, we must learn from the mistakes of others. It was a great experience and if you will have the opportunity to go – go!

Yaroslava:

When I hear the word «conference», I can imagine boring meetings from morning till evening in business suits, and if I hear «Erasmus» it’s always about fun and new acquaintances.

The conference «Hug the Hague» combined learning and entertainment. During this period, I learned a lot about the work of the government sector, was able to increase the level of trust in some politicians and overcome the internal stereotype that they are unattainable, far-fetched super people living in a separate world. Also appeared to me as cognitive a visit to the Netherlands Parliament, where we were able to learn both about the history of the country and the Hague in particular, as well as about the current realities, features and trends; communication with the ambassadors and representatives of the embassies of some of the participating countries, which talked about the main directions of cooperation of our states.

During this time we managed to learn to cook quickly and deliciously in the kitchen simultaneously with about 40 other people. Incidentally, because of such a large number of participants, constant and unceasing movement and the flow of acquaintances and communication about everything in the world, I was getting tired quickly and needed to spend time alone, or simply lost the productivity, assemblage and concentration at the training sessions.

For myself, it was clear that I would not survive in the Netherlands myself, because I did not have a modern bank card and do not know how to ride a bike. And after the questions: «What do you want from the authorities? What interests should the youth policy take into account?», once again wondering who I am and what I have to do with my life. Before you ask something from the environment, you need to understand yourself and decide on the current priorities, which is what I am doing now.

P.S. The way home was full of adventure: 100500 (instead of 1) transfers on the way from The Hague to Dortmund, from which we had to fly to Kiev; the removal of a boarding pass and a bus ticket from my phone immediately before boarding an aircraft; bus Kiev-Kremenchuk in the ditch at 4 am. Apparently, this is because I did not want to come home after such an inspiring event :)))

Sashko:

From 5 to 10 May, a took place the really interesting and memorable conference “Hug The Hague”. During this conference, we became acquainted with many fun and interesting people. They talked about their organizations and shared their experiences. policy makers have talked a lot about the benefits, and even shared some secrets of successful collaboration. I liked the acquaintance with national cuisines and cultures of other countries. Thank you all for this useful experience, bright impressions and new acquaintances!

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