Time to Say Goodbye – Day 5 YES Summer Camp 2016

Today is the final day of Summer Camp 2016. Always a sad say as we bid farewell to our YES family for another year. The day began with me waking up late so I got ready and headed down to the YES office in hotel reception. This is where I spent most of my day. I wrote by blog. At 11am I went go to reception and put some money on my card so I could get food and drink for my final day.

Today the YES staff were gone most of the day to the Bureau meeting so I decided to say in the office as a lot of people were looking for help with finding out what bus they were on and getting their tickets printed for their flights. The router in the room was giving issues and we had to keep resetting it which caused havoc in uploading a video to the YES Facebook page.

At 2pm I decided to get something to eat and a drink of water so I headed over to the bar where my card was rejected! I had just put money on it today so I went to reception where I was told there was an error on the system and my card was deleted so it was updated and my money returned. I got my food and went back to the office. After several minutes I realised they had left €14.50 off my card so I went back to reception where it was updated again and all was good for my day.

At 5pm I decided to attend a workshop from FEPS “Millennial Dialogue” which was very interesting but I headed up to get my things from the office half way through and planned on going back in but yet I was summoned to the reception area where I was told the card was deleted again! By the time it was fixed I decided to head back to my room and get ready for the closing ceremony.

I rested for a while after getting ready for our final night in Sicily then headed down to the Pizzeria to treat myself on the last night. I had a Diavolo pizza it was tomato, mozzarella and spicy salami and it was delicious! But just as I tucked in a wasp decided he also thought it was nice. Now it should be noted I am deathly afraid of wasps so I jumped up much to the entertainment to some of my German comrades watching on but Aaron from Belgium came to the rescue, after attempting to catch the wasp he invited me to sit with some of his delegation.

Much to my delight this gave me a chance to speak with my old friend Thomas, who is more of like a brother than a friend. We reconnected chatting about when we last met and how we are each doing. After the pizza I headed down to the amphitheatre for the closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony was wonderful the perfect end to the perfect camp, we had speakers from the European Parliament, including Zita Gurmai MEP from Hungary who always gets the crowd going. Zita was supposed to be on my panel on Friday morning but could not make it due to her flight being delayed.

Following this we had our comrades from Austria give out paper and #RefugeesWelcome stickers. We all made paper boats and left them on the stage while this was happening we had one of the Austrian delegation play his guitar as we sang “Bella Ciao”, “Bread and Roses” and of course “The Internationale”. It was a wonderful moment and after the ceremony YES staff collected the paper boats which we are to bring to the airport and leave so anyone coming or going knows that refugees are well and truly welcome.

The ceremony was closed with a short speech from Laura Slimani YES President. She spoke about the work done over the past 5 days. She mentioned the workshops and the speeches but most importantly she took a moment to let our Turkish comrades who could not make it to Summer Camp know they are not alone. We support them now and will always support them.

Ending her speech Laura invited to the stage the people who made camp possible starting with the Social Media team, of which I am a member. As I headed down to the stage it felt like a curtain call, well I guess because it was. After the stage was filled and camp was officially closed there was, of course, a party!

Up on the terrace we partied the night away, sometime around 4am the music stopped and the remaining YES Summer Camp attendees sang and chanted into the night sky. And then it was time for bed… well by bed I mean mattresses, 3 of them and a balcony where I sat with people from Belgium and Finland and we chatted and played games until 7am.

Now I was going to do a separate blog about travelling home, but really it was not an eventful day so I will include it here.

At 11.30am I got the bus to the airport. Palermo is a very small airport so it does not really have a duty free. I picked up a gift for my nephew, some handmade Macaroni for my dad, some magnets for my mam and a little bottle of Limoncello in the shape of the Italian boot for myself. My flight to Frankfurt was at 2.30pm and I slept the whole way, I don’t even remember the safety announcement.

Once off the plane in Frankfurt I headed to the real duty free where I got the remainder of my presents. Toberlone for my brother and dad, Lubeck Marzipan for my mam and Milka and Lindt for myself amongst other things. Frankfurt is huge and I was tired so I made my way up to the Z gates where I knew my flight to Dublin would be leaving in 5 or so hours. I had a nap on some chairs. Once I woke I decided to get food.

I found a delightful Italian restaurant, what better way to end my trip! I ate some delicious spaghetti carbonara, well I picked at it as I was not feeling well. Once I paid for that I headed to gate Z22 where my flight was leaving from and there I slept once more. When I woke up it was 8.15pm, 1 hour to boarding so I connected to the Wi-Fi and stared at Facebook for 30 minutes or so. This was when I noticed people moving so I checked the screen and the gate was moved to Z21. I headed down there and waited.

Lufthansa, who I was flying with, do a pre check of passports and tickets so they can see what is available I guess. I sat near the table and when the crowd subsided I got my ticket stamped. Boarding began not long after that, starting with families with small children and those needing assistance, then business class, then economy.

I boarded the plane and this time I was awake for the whole flight, I got a complementary sandwich and drink, I had orange juice. The cabin crew were delightful and the flight was smooth all the way to Dublin.

Upon approach I looked out my window and saw the lights of ferries travelling over the Irish Sea to England and I wondered how many women are on those ferries so they can have abortions and after the week I have had I felt sad this was the thought that welcomed me home. Ireland is a democratic country and yet women do not have access to what is a vital service. I am sure the other members of YES will agree that this needs to be reversed and so I am taking this opportunity to ask anyone who supports the Irish campaign and reading this to use #Repealthe8 and let Irish women know your support them!

Back to my travels. Once I landed it was very easy to get my luggage. After this is saw a sign that almost made me cry with joy “McDonalds Open 24hrs” I still had 1.5hrs to my bus so I almost ran up to get a Big Mac with Fries and a Coke. Perhaps it was the travelling, or maybe it was my exhaustion but it was the nicest McDonalds I have ever eaten. I savoured every last bite and sip of my Coke. I slumped in my chair realising I ate it too fast and the large size option may have been a bad idea but then I was also satisfied.

My bus left Dublin Airport at 12.30am it went through the city and stopped in 2 places before reaching its final destination of Waterford. I slept the whole way, waking for a moment when we stopped in Carlow and again in Paulstown, the latter being when I contact my dad letting him know where I was.

3.15am I arrived in Waterford City meaning I only had 30minutes in the car until I was home. I regaled my dad with stories of the week because I was excited but also because I wanted to stay awake. Once home I brought my bags inside, changed into my pyjamas and sank into my bed.

My final thoughts on YES Summer Camp 2016 are it was an amazing experience, completely different than Portugal 2015, not just because we didn’t actually camp and there were more people but because we had different topics of conversation, the workshops and panels were different and in less than a year since the last camp we have new problems facing Europe, the far right is gaining traction and with the refugee crisis, Brexit and terrorist attacks we have to think of new ways to tackle issues. But as Laura said in her opening speech we are not the future of Europe, WE ARE THE PRESENT.

As I stated earlier in the week I encourage anyone interested in attending Summer Camp to do it when you can. You will not regret it.

So for the final time I sign off.

Thank you for reading this week and thanks to YES for making it a great week.

See you all soon,

Sarah

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