Interview with Piotr Cichocki, the President of the 44th National Sessions of EYP France
Interview by Julie Portal
I’m currently pursuing my masters’ degree in International Economics and already have a BA in Political Science. I’m interested in a couple of things – I love sailing, travelling and reading political fiction.
According to you, what are the main requirements for a good president?
A good president should be a good manager and good at directing tasks to other people. I will use a sailing metaphor for this: on a boat, you are always supposed to have one hand for the boat and the other for yourself, any task that can be directed to others should be directed to others. That way you can always be there for other chairs, organisers or delegates. A good president is always available, and in order to be available, he needs to have trust in people, he has to trust them to do the tasks they are responsible for to.
Other than EYP, what are you dealing with ? Studies, hobbies, idea of career?
I don’t know yet, all I know is I am going to make it interesting, I really do not want to pursue a regular career ladder. Right now, I’m getting ready for an exchange program, I’m moving to Beijing this September, so I’m hoping for that to show me what I want to do in the future. For now, I’m really enjoying where I am, I’m trying to make the most of the moment, being here in Strasbourg at this EYP session.
Of course, EYP must be an important thing for you, why?
I started EYP eight years ago when a friend of a friend was organising and they were just looking for delegates to fill in the empty spots a day before the event so I was lucky that they didn’t have those spots filled. Since then, EYP has allowed me to develop my English, make contacts all over the continent and has nourished my passion for politics.
I wasn’t even really aware of that passion being there when I was in high school. I was in a scientific class, specialising in physics and mathematics and then when I went to university, I chose to study power engineering, but it was only later that I realised that something else suited me better and it was thanks to EYP. Without EYP, I would never have gotten into political science and international economics. I think I wouldn’t be as happy as I am with what I would be doing because I would never have known my passion. EYP is crucial for where I am now, because my everyday life looks different from what it would look like if it wasn’t for EYP.
At first, it just seemed to be very cool and interesting when I heard about it but I would never have thought it could be something I could see myself in in the future. I was really afraid of speaking in public, I remember this one time when I stood up when I was a delegate and I was supposed to answer to a round of questions at a General Assembly, I had all of the responses written down and tons of post-its from other delegates in my committee and I was just supposed to read them out. I was so scared that I completely lost my voice and I was so ashamed but here I am now, well capable of speaking to people.
If it wasn’t for EYP, I would never be here. EYP is amazing, it’s a place to make mistakes, it’s a place to humiliate yourself sometimes but when you’re an adult, when you go somewhere, you don’t go through these things anymore, thanks to EYP, you’re so better prepared for everything. I mean, even if I were to continue my engineering studies, throughout my career I surely would have to present new products and establish business contacts so even if I wouldn’t be pursuing the path I’m on now, EYP would still have me develop some crucial soft skills, namely being confident and speaking English.
While creating and doing sessions, do you feel like EYP has an impact on decisions made by the European Union?
It is a complicated question. On the one hand, of course what we produce is a booklet, we have a clear and published outcome and sometimes it is sent to our sponsors and supporters, it is sent to politicians who give us their patronage, but we do not normally keep track of what they make out of it. However, I am aware of the growing importance of EYP and the decisions taken by the delegates because politicians and decision makers are afraid of the fundamental changes taking place in the public sphere right now. Last year a large part of the French parliament was replaced by completely new politicians. This is basically the case for every European country where politicians do not feel as safe as they used to be in their parliamentary seats.
The wave of replacement of the elite is going over the continent and I generally feel that with that on the horizon, politicians are more open and start to listen more to what the youth has to say. Since EYP gives a very convenient product to them, a resolution that can be read within a few minutes and that can give them a general idea, a proposal for a change, I feel like they are starting to make use of it. At least, this is what I hear in conversations that I sometimes have with Polish decision makers. To sum up, this impact is not measurable but it’s definitely a good time for EYP because never before have so many people been interested in what is being done during EYP sessions.