Rotary Youth Leadership Trip

In February,  Matthew Irwin of Year 14 spent six days in France with twenty three other young people from Ireland participating in the Rotary Youth Leadership visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.  This is Matthew's account of the visit.
After the same gruelling interview process we met for the first time in Dublin. Each individual introduced him or herself to the group before the parents left their children eagerly awaiting the return of the adults who would replace them. 
We spent the next six days as one great group- days which were long and busy but always fun. During the second day for example we visited the Louvre, the Champes Elysées, the Eiffel Tower and the awe inspiring Sacré Coeur and took a boat trip on the Seine all before dinner. 
En route to Strasbourg on day three we stopped in Epernay to see a Champagne House and in Verdun to visit the war cemetery- a deeply moving experience for many. 
Monday morning was taken up researching for the following day in the European Parliament and the afternoon with shopping, the fantastic cathedral and riding on one of Strasbourg’s famous trams. We entertained ourselves that evening with party tricks including songs, jokes, stories and even a short sketch by yours truly. 
Day five, the “Euroscola,” day was the climax of the trip. It was fantastic as Sinead and I introduced the Irish delegation in five different languages and I posed a question to a member of the Parliament, both in front of over four hundred people from thirteen EU nations- a real confidence boosting experience. We debated in smaller groups in the afternoon then regrouped to vote on the resolutions each group had proposed. That night we had a celebratory dinner and needless to say, little sleep was had by all. 
The final day was taken up with travelling and only the next day did I appreciate all that I had learned. Firstly, after visiting the endless Verdun graves I learned how awful war really is and how we must do everything in our power to prevent it. Secondly, that the European Union does not deserve all of the bad press it has received and finally how important it is to take advantage of every opportunity given to me, as I certainly did here.


Matthew Irwin Year 14