In September, the Buckingham Twinning Association (BTA) sent two representatives of the town to the International Youth Forum in Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany.
The theme of the biennial event, held over the weekend of 29 and 30 of September, was chosen by the German hosts as ‘You’re future = EU’re future? / Living a life you will love!
BTA selected two students, Thomas Gray, 15, and Harvey Witter, 16, from the Royal Latin School to attend the politically charged event.
”It was a very positive opportunity we had to go to this forum. I really feel it strengthened international friendships, which personally I think is vital given the political circumstances we’re facing today.”
In total, ten students were at the gathering including three from Mouvaux in France, three from Ustron in Poland, two from Buckingham and two from the host town in Germany.
The packed itinerary for the trip included a series of presentations on Saturday morning, including by the Neukirchen town Mayor, Herr Lenssen, followed by visits to archaeological parks on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
In preparation for the presentations, which were to be based around their hopes and concerns for the future, the students were asked to conduct interviews among their peers to share with their international friends and to spark discussions.
It is perhaps unsurprising that one subject seems to have dominated the thoughts of all the students - Brexit.
The feedback from the Buckingham students was centred around concerns that leaving the EU will raise the cost of living and make it harder for them to travel and work in Europe.
For our international youth partners, the theme was more one of confusion and disappointment.
A member of BTA who was on the trip said:
“Representatives of the other countries present could not understand why Britain is leaving the EU. They felt it is a great shame and makes no sense.”
They went on to say:
“Frankly, sitting there as a British person, it was quite embarrassing.”
Fortunately, politics was not the only topic on the menu. In particular, there was a shared interest between the British and German students in korfball and so plans have been set in motion to organise a twinning korfball event.
Overall, the forum appears to have been a positive experience for the students.
The BTA said:
“The boys were a credit to the town, made an excellent presentation and learnt a great deal from their new international friends.”