In early October 2019 Mia entered the Rotary Youth Leadership Development Competition and never thought filling out a simple application form would get her to the European Parliament to represent Ireland. She is shown left receiving her certificate from Rotary Ireland District Governor William Cross at the European Parliament office in Dublin.
The slideshow below shows her photographs from the trip and her report is below. (click on any image to enlarge and scroll)
In early October 2019 I entered the Rotary Youth Leadership Development Competition and I never thought filling out a simple application form would get me to the European Parliament to represent Ireland.
I was interviewed for the schools heat at the end of October being questioned on topics including, leadership and planning and work experience.
A few days later I was pleased to discover I had been successful in gaining a place at the Belfast Club Finals. This time the interview was more challenging and it explored more detailed topics including Rotary International. Once again I was very happy to hear I had won and would now represent the Club at the Regional Finals.
I had 7 days to prepare for what I knew was going to be a very challenging Regional Interview. On the 26th November I headed to the Stormont hotel and was interviewed by not only Rotarians but 2 managing directors also! This time I had to discuss the impacts of Brexit on Northern Ireland, as well as the UK and Ireland, my Kilimanjaro summit in August 2018 and immigration among other things.
We returned to the Stormont Hotel later that evening for the awards ceremony and dinner where I met the other candidates. We discussed the difficulty of the interview and then proceeded to have dinner. After the speeches the 3 Regional winners were announced, "And the winners going to Strasbourg are… Mia Jackson." I could not believe it and it took several moments to register that I had won. I was delighted to have won a place on the Irish Youth Leadership Team of 24 students from across Ireland for 2020.
Fast forward two months and the 2nd of February had arrived. We all met for the first time in Jury's Inn, Belfast and friendships were quickly formed. On the Monday we visited Titanic Belfast (my workplace) where I was happy to give the group welcome and answered any questions the group had (believe me there were plenty!) That afternoon we travelled up the road to Stormont where we all enjoyed a guided tour and then quizzed local politicians. We spoke to SDLP, Sinn Fein, DUP and UUP representatives which we all thoroughly enjoyed. We then travelled down to Dublin where we would spend the next two evenings.
We woke up bright and early on Tuesday morning and headed straight to the European Parliament Office in Ireland where we engaged in a lively seminar with James Temple-Smithson who is Head of Office. He kindly answered many of our questions on our six Euroscola topics providing us with some much-needed knowledge. Later that afternoon we strolled through the city to Dublin Castle where we enjoyed a fascinating guided tour, which even included a trip into the dungeons!
We headed to bed early as we were expecting a 2am wake-up call to catch our flight to Frankfurt.
We arrived in Frankfurt and jumped straight onto the coach to embark on our three-hour journey to Strasbourg. We checked into the hotel and headed to the town centre, after a short walk we were greeted with the magnificent and breathtaking view of Strasbourg Cathedral. Many souvenir purchases later and we headed back to hotel to complete some last minute organisation and research in preparation for the big day that was Euroscola.
The day had finally arrived, it was Euroscola Day! We arrived at 7:45 am outside the breathtaking European Parliament to be greeted by the Euroscola team, who quickly escorted us through security. We enjoyed a lovely complimentary French breakfast and then proceeded to take our seats in the extraordinary Louise Weiss Chamber. After we were introduced to the programme of the day we began with the introductions for each country shortly followed by the preliminary question and answer session. I persevered for the hour-long session but was unsuccessful in being recognised and having my question answered.
In the afternoon we headed to our individual committees, mine was the Renewable Energy and Environment Committee, which of course is a very topical issue. After electing our chairs we got down to business and the debate began shortly after. I proposed the first motion surrounding an education programme for young children about recycling and I am very happy to say a large majority passed this. We then continued to scrutinise other motions and finally had four of which we could report back on in the main chamber.
Once we were back in the main chamber and seated alongside the 500 students, we listened to each Chair’s report where I once again persevered to ask a question about one of the topics. Finally I was rewarded and I posed a question to the Migration and Integration Chair about EU funded migration services. I still cannot believe I asked a question in the European Parliament! What made this even better was that only around 30 questions were answered in the entire day! We retired back to the hotel were we enjoyed a lovely Chinese for our last dinner as the Irish Team!
This was an incredible experience, where I met a diverse, interesting, politically minded and all round amazing team that represented every corner of Ireland! In the space of a week we became friends for life! I am incredibly grateful to Rotary Ireland for this once in a lifetime opportunity, but more specifically The Rotary Club of Belfast who chose me to represent them on the trip and sponsored me for the duration. I would also like to thank Mr Latimer for putting me forward for the competition and I can’t wait to advertise this competition next year!
Mia Jackson, Methodist College