Thilo Buchholz holding a speech in front of FYEG banner

FYEG: A youth association!

Youth associations are about committing, learning, and trying to give your best at something whereas at the same time, and this is where the difference to usual employment lies, your life is not dependent on your performance in the association. It’s what makes them so great. It goes without saying that this also makes youth associations more susceptible to position-hunters and receding commitment. But I cannot imagine what my life would look like without these safe spaces.

One of the safe spaces in which I committed myself to something, learned, and tried to give my best were the elections to the Executive Committee (EC) of the Federation of the Young European Greens (FYEG). Reflecting on my knowledge, skills, and searching for the place where my commitment could be most effective in the near future, I decided that the FYEG EC could be this place. With the support and the approval of friends and Member Organisations of FYEG (hellooooo DWARS 🇳🇱, Grüne Jugend 🇩🇪, Red Equo Joven 🇪🇸 , & Junge Grüne Schweiz / Jeunes Vertes Suisse 🇨🇭, how crazy are you?!? ❤️) I wanted to give it a shot.

What I did

So, I went, put myself out, talked to a lot of people, and ended up not getting elected. Does that mean my journey to Istanbul and all the effort put into creating a video, contacting people, preparing speeches, reading through documents and waiting hours and hours at one border checkpoint after another on my way to Istanbul were pointless? Ab-so-lute-ly not. I got

  • the full benefits you always get when participating in such conventions (people who become new friends, motivation and inspiration, experience in resolution drafting and negotiation, lots of partying and joyful happiness, and sleep deprivation),
  • and of course the full benefits of travelling somewhere new (cultural awareness, growth of perspectives, beautiful nature, amazing food, adrenaline-kick, relaxation, lots of partying and joyful happiness, money wasted on not-departing buses),
  • and in addition I also got the full package of a candidate’s experience.

The experience of being a candidate

Snapshot from the FYEG General Assembly 2019 in Istanbul

That meant: Developing a feeling for the delegations and their delegates. Gaining a deeper insight in Member Organisations in pre-Istanbul-talks. Having honest exchanges on my strengths and weaknesses during the assembly. Being put into a tense limbo by potential voters (read: everybody) while aiming to relax and have casual conversations. Presenting yourself to a group of voters knowing you’re the outside candidate with the odd profile. I pulled all that through while still deeply enjoying the experience of the General Assembly and having a blast, and I’m very happy that this was possible for me in this way.

What came out of it

And then, you either get elected or you don’t. That’s the point in elections! And I would’ve preferred not getting elected over getting elected “just because I’m the only candidate for a position which needs to get filled” a thousand times. In fact, I can be happy and proud of my association to have all these other extremely competent and motivated people leading and coordinating it in the Executive Committee – so absolutely no hard feelings from my side! Just wishes for lots of success and lots of courage – be brave, inspired, and inspiring!

I can be thankful for my privilege. For all of the privileges I already have in my life, but here specifically for the privilege to have been allowed and supported to attend this General Assembly, for the privilege to make the experience of running as a candidate, for the privilege to be a guest to Turkey, and be welcomed to Istanbul and to the camp in the Kaz/Ida mountains (#KazDağlarıHepimizin).

Picture of the demonstration against a gold mine in the Kaz mountains
Demonstration against deforestation and mining in the Kaz Mountains, Turkey

Running had some disadvantages though: Whenever I appear on a FYEG event or General Assembly again, I can’t claim to have the innocence of an activist from only the very basic level of the Member Organisations. And I surely won’t have the comfort of speaking in front of many strangers, but instead I will be scrutinized by people I’ve already grown to hold dear to my heart. I’m not only a green young European activist, a DWARS member, or a Grüne Jugend member anymore, but I’ve become a FYEGer.

I said in my speech that I believe we’ll save the world together. And that there’s lots to do. Well, surprise, but that didn’t change! And luckily, we can also save the world even if we’re not all in the Executive Committee. So, let’s use the Green Wave to build a Green World, Haydi gidelim!



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