AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Wed, 12 Jul 2017 08:46:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.9 Policy Paper on the Summer University Project and the recognition of AEGEE as a provider of short-term youth mobility programs /policy-paper-on-the-summer-university-project-and-the-recognition-of-aegee-as-a-provider-of-short-term-youth-mobility-programs/ Sun, 11 Jun 2017 13:49:50 +0000 /?p=7076 01 | Introduction

AEGEE-Europe / European Students’ Forum is a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit student organization which has around 13000 members from more than 200 cities in 40 countries all over Europe.[1] The mission of AEGEE is creation of borderless Europe, which could be implemented by giving the young people opportunities of cultural exchange, integration and travelling.[2] Visiting different countries is the best way to broaden the mind and share cultural diversity. However, quite a lot of destinations are still rather problematic for young people to reach, mostly due to bureaucratic (visas) and financial (high ticket prices) barriers. Moreover, many opportunities are missed due to lack of information: Most young people have only heard  about Erasmus student exchange, although  there are  a lot of other possibilities (for instance, the Youth Exchange Training Course, EVS, the EU Aid volunteers, etc.). Since the foundation of AEGEE many steps towards broader availability of travel have been taken, especially in the Schengen Area. However, there are still many obstacles to mobility in Europe: As 25% of the AEGEE network is outside the European Union, visa problems can sometimes be substantial.

In the following paper the importance of youth mobility will be explained in terms of the biggest and most significant project of the organization: the Summer University. While long-term mobility programs supported by universities (like Erasmus) are broadly recognized, there are still short-term mobility programs supported by international NGOs, which also contribute a lot to creating European citizens. First of all, in section 3 the essence of the Summer University project will be described, as well as its history, development, purpose and diversity. Further, in section 4 the methodology of the research will be explained. The research presents the results of a questionnaire conducted among members of AEGEE on the impact of participation in and/or organization of a the Summer University on their life and personality, and also the statistic and description of various mobility barriers faced by members of the organization  when trying to reach the place where the SU will take place..

Based on the results and statistics of the survey and the position  of AEGEE, illustrated in section 5, recommendations about possible measures concerning visa procedure and possible international support of NGOs (as stakeholders in organizing mobility projects and events) from the institutions and local governments will be given in section 6.

02 | Context       

The issue of youth mobility programs is as urgent as ever, especially taking into account not only the question of individual development but also the social situation in Europe, decrease of the level of European identity and solidarity, and raising Euroscepticism.

To the question concerning the Erasmus program (which “enables European students to spend part of their studies at another higher education institution or with an organisation in Europe”), a large majority of Europeans express a positive opinion about it (86% ‘positive’); just 5% have a negative opinion, and 9% are unable to answer.[3]

The essence of the Erasmus program – as well as its main benefit – is its contribution to creating European citizens in the sense  for which the whole European policy strives: democratic, tolerant, open-minded, with a wide range of interests. The importance of this program cannot be understated (especially in view of the rise of populism, nationalism and Euroscepticism), but we must keep in mind that Erasmus is not the only mobility program which can help to achieve this aim. There are many other long-term and short-term mobility programs with various contents  but with a common result. One of these programs, coordinated by AEGEE-Europe, is the Summer University project  (detailed in section  3).

One undeniable advantage of the Summer University project over the Erasmus program is that it is open  to absolutely all young Europeans regardless of background or whether they are studying at university (only students can take part in the Erasmus program). Besides, not all European countries are involved in the Erasmus program so far, whereas the Summer University project is accessible for citizens of any European country  (both EU  and non-EU).

 

03 | The Summer University Project

AEGEE provides young people with a lot of opportunities for travelling and self-development by organising various international projects and events. The biggest and most significant project, which is described in detail below, is Summer University.

The Summer University project was established in 1988 and this is one of the largest and most successful youth exchange independent short-time mobility volunteering project organized by an NGO.[4]

Summer Universities are events which  take place during summer for between one and four weeks in most of the cities in which  AEGEE is present. Understanding and exploring the multicultural dimension of the European continent, overcoming national and cultural stereotypes, fighting for tolerance and creating open-minded citizens are some of the reasons why 20 to 50 young Europeans from all over Europe come together in each Summer University.[5]

The second part of its name – “University” – is not simply a word, it is very significant, concerning AEGEE’s aim of non-formal education and being realized with workshops, discussions, presentations or even projects provided by either experienced members of AEGEE or by other partner institutions.[6]

The idea of this project belongs to Daisy Kopmels (member of AEGEE-Amsterdam, 1988). First Summer Universities were 10 language courses offered to 320 applicants, taking place in Bellaterra/Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Heidelberg, Kiel, Milano, Amsterdam, Orléans, Paris and Toulouse. The languages which were studied at these courses were Catalan, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch and French.[7]

The following timeline illustrates the development of the  project:

  • 1989: The number of courses reaches 16 and, for the first time, it was possible to study Greek and Computer Sciences
  • 1991: The first SUs in Eastern Europe take place
  • 1992 : The first 5 TSUs (Travelling Summer Universities) are organized
  • 1994: SU Types: Summer University, Summer University +, Travelling SU, Summer Camp
  • 1995: The fee is now 100 ECU[8], raised many more times after.
  • 1996: Summer Events are introduced
  • 1999: Electronic applications replace paper forms
  • 2000: Webpage: (www.aegee.org/su). Fee is now paid in Euro
  • 2003: Applications now via website
  • 2004: The SU on its peak: 96 SUs! The first SUPS (Summer University Project School – a training for future Summer University organisers) took place[9]

The Summer University project suggests a big variety of themes, which can help its participants in developing new competences, gaining useful skills and knowledge. For example, there are such topics as History and Local culture, Civic Education, Sports, Language, Art and Creativity, etc. Apart from the cultural exchange these Summer Universities also include sessions and trainings on different topics, provided in an interactive way and based on the principles of the non-formal education.

Summer Universities are currently divided into Summer Course, Summer Course Plus and Travelling Summer University.

  • Every Summer Course is characterised by:
    • A duration of between 11 and 28 nights; exceptions for a duration of minimum 8 nights can be made by the SUCT (Summer University Coordination Team) for organising Locals which have not been granted this exception the previous year;
    • At least 14 hours of tuition per week;
    • A minimum number of 15 participants.

The course should be about main subject/roof topic, classes about related topics are possible.[10]

A Summer Course Plus is an intensive course on any subject. These courses are officially recognised and supported by the university, the educational institution in which they take place or AEGEE-Academy (a  training association within  AEGEE-Europe, formed by members of Locals interested in trainings) and lessons are taught by professional teachers or trainers approved by AEGEE-Academy. A proof of the teachers’ or trainers’ qualification and experience is to be provided to the SUCT (Summer University Coordination Team, responsible for the good functioning and for the development of the project).

  • Every Summer Course Plus is characterised by:
    • A duration between 11 and 28 nights;
    • At least 20 hours of tuition per week on average;
    • A minimum of 15 participants;
    • A minimum of 4 cities visited.[11]
  • A Travelling Summer University is a cultural travel through Europe. Every Travelling Summer University is characterised by:
    • A duration between 14 and 28 nights;
    • At least 20 hours of tuition per week on average;
    • A minimum of 15 participants.[12]

According to CIA (Corpus Iuridium AEGEEnse, General Rules of AEGEE-Europe, version 27, July 2016) the Summer University participation fees are set to a maximum of 14.00 Euros per person and per night, in which at least two meals per day (of which at least one is warm), all lodging, transportation, tuition and activities are included. Fees set by the preceding SUCT can be increased by a maximum percentage based on Eurostat Euro Area annual inflation statistics of the calendar year[13]. Locals are encouraged to set the fee as low as possible in order to  encourage and foster travelling according to the aims of the SU project.

In summary, the Summer University project is AEGEE’s longest-lived and most successful project, which has evolved and taken many shapes over its history and throughout its different instances , even though the basic concept has remained the same: summer events organised by and for young people from all over Europe, with both educational content, cultural exchange and with room for fun and leisure. In the past year 2016 the total number of SU applicants was 2767, the number of Summer Universities was 75, the number of organizing locals was 101 and the total number of places was 2181. 30 countries[14] were involved in the organizational process.[15]

 

04 | Analysis and Overview of the Mobility Survey Results

In order to present the most topical information about the impact of the SU project on the young people and the mobility barriers, a questionnaire was conducted  among all members of AEGEE from 13th of March and 8th of April. 122 members from 20 different European countries[16] took part in this survey.

The questionnaire had the following aims:

  • To find out the influence SU participation has on young people;
  • To find out and classify all mobility obstacles AEGEE members had faced while getting visas and reaching the place of the SU, as well as financial barriers;
  • To clarify the reasons for these obstacles.

While answering 16 questions the participants could evaluate the impact of the participation or organization of the Summer University on their life and personality from 1 to 7 (1 – do not agree at all, 7 – agree completely), report about any difficulties (problems getting visa, lack of financial means, etc.) reaching the place of the Summer University, and also give their comments and share their opinions regarding all these questions.

The survey shows the following results:

1) Concerning the impact of participation in the SU project on the personality and life of AEGEE members, 83,6% have participated in the SU; 36,9% – several times (two or more); 72,1% have been organizers or helpers in this project, besides, half did it after being a participant. These numbers brightly illustrate the positive impact of the SU project on the activity of the previously not too active young people, who start their acquaintance with this project from simple participation and then become inspired and start organizing something by themselves, taking responsibility.

According to the statistic, SU had the biggest impact on the development of such qualities as language and communication skills (79,5%[17] agreed with this statement to different extents) and self-confidence (81,9%[18] of participants feel like that). 84,4%[19] agreed that their participation in the Summer University had made them more open-minded, and 75,4%[20] are now feeling more European.

“Of course I’m more open minded now, meeting specially those from super far away countries (Armenia, Russia or Ukraine) helped a lot to destroy stereotypes and indeed made me feel more European to have friends scattered all around the continent and beyond.”[21]

“As participant, it engaged me in European / Political issues, by meeting people from other countries.”[22]

 Soft skills (like event management, team management, time management) were also quite strongly developed, especially among organizers and helpers: 73,8%[23] of the respondents have agreed with this statement.

“My Summer University experience … opened me the door to improve all soft-skills people can find in AEGEE by the willing to do something for the organisation after SU. I took role of an organiser after my SU experience and it developed all my pack of soft-skills for 100%.”[24]

“As organizer, I developed skills I wouldn’t have without this project.”[25]

Apart from the above-listed results, 39,3%[26] marked that after participating or organizing the SU they feel better prepared for the labour market.

“I would say that I developed all the soft skills on the list and more, therefore I consider I’m better prepared for the labour market.”[27]

As organizer I’d put ‘7’ because I’ve got a lot of soft skills and become prepared for the labour market being organizer.[28]

2) Concerning the necessity of visa for reaching the place of the SU and related problems, as well as any other obstacles, 37,7% of the AEGEE members needed visa for participating in the SU. Almost a quarter of them faced various problems while getting their visa, for example: slow and expensive procedure, lots of documents needed, unexpected costs, applying several times, etc.

“It was always some problems with docs/invitation so I needed to apply several times.”[29]

For another SU (Russia), the procedure to get the visa was slow and expensive.[30]

“I had to prepare too many documents and make a lot of appointments plus spend a lot of money on these issues.”[31]

 One quarter of the members who faced these problems could not finally solve them: they either had to pay much more money than what they expected, or even had to cancel their attendance to the SU.

“The solution was paying the fast visa transmit, that was more expensive.”[32]

“So I didn’t go to SU.”[33]

 Regarding financial barriers, one third of the respondents could not go to the SU due to the lack of financial means.

“Financial issues is the real barrier. …I really spent a lot of money on the tickets. …all summer is high tourist season, so it also influences the price and the speed of the disappearance of cheap tickets. So, this year financial issues really prevent me from going to any SU.”[34]

“The most important thing that prevented me from participating was lack of money. And the most expensive thing about going to a summer university is travelling to the place.”[35]

 

Some respondents pointed out that financial barriers and challenges are to be found not only on the side of participants, but also on the side of organisers. Given the limitations that our internal regulation puts on the fees for SUs, it makes it exceedingly difficult for certain AEGEE locals to organise them and to compete with other “cheaper” locations.

“Money is a barrier but 14 euro per night at summer is nothing. Most of the locals can’t fit into that price but it’s a HUGE mistake to settle the budget based on probable fundraising.”[36]

 Based on statistic, we can conclude that participation in or organizing the Summer University project has a huge positive impact on the personality, makes people feel more open-minded, more European, and also allows gaining and developing different soft skills, useful for the labour market (e.g. time management, event management, conflict management, the ability to turn the ideas into reality), broaden the mind and rise the level of tolerance in Europe.

“Both when participating in and organizing a SU, all the experiences are totally valuable in so many ways. I would not like to miss any of those experiences – whether good or bad ones. Participating and organizing is a totally different experience regarding for example responsibility, yet it’s the same feeling you have after the SU: feeling united, having new friends, having broken stereotypes, having overcome own fears, knowing a new culture, language, cuisine, places … all that helps oneself to grow as a person, and in this environment it works so much better than in any other (forced) environment.”[37]

To sum up, the real value of the Summer University project is that all soft skills, language skills, perception of peculiarities of lots of various cultures are assimilated in an informal atmosphere but at the same time this atmosphere, this event are organized so properly by volunteers who do believe in values of borderless Europe and the necessity of youth development and international connection, that all these skills, knowledge and tolerance become a natural part of the participants.

At the same time quite a lot of young people still face mobility barriers like unexpectedly long and expensive procedures for obtaining visas or extremely high prices for the tickets to particular destinations. Often the first issue causes the second one, as visa participants cannot buy cheap tickets in advance due to the uncertain situation of their visa application. When they finally receive an answer from an embassy, it is often too late to buy tickets for an affordable price, so young people have either to waste much more money than they had planned, or just miss the opportunity to take part in such a promising and useful Summer University project.

05 | Position of AEGEE-Europe

AEGEE believes in the importance of youth mobility, which is one of the pillars in the forming of the world for which we all strive: a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe without national levels posing obstacles in the way of mobility, valuing and  encouraging young people to contribute in its development. The young people are going to take part in forming such a society very soon (and some of them are already involved in this process).

Youth mobility in a friendly atmosphere unites and connects young people from completely different countries with absolutely dissimilar social and economic background; and such connection is what forms groups and personalities who sincerely desire to achieve a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe and contribute in the process of its development. Especially taking into account the current rise of populism, nationalism and Euroscepticism, the possibilities and undertaken actions for creating young European citizens with fresh views should not be neglected.

AEGEE provides opportunities for self-development of the youth, especially with such interactive and effective methods like travelling, intercultural exchange and volunteer organization of events internationally (all of which are fully included in the Summer University project). From our side – the side of AEGEE-Europe – we always take all possible measures in order to facilitate the process of obtaining a visa for those participants who need it and to minimize the prices for participating in the SU. However, our opportunities there are limited and AEGEE members are forced to waste a lot of  time in the  collection of all required documents (even several times), unexpectedly pay money, or even refuse participation in the event.

Following the evidence previously provided and the importance of this topic in European society today, AEGEE calls for the recognition of AEGEE and other international youth NGOs as providers of short-term youth mobility programs. AEGEE also calls for providing equal opportunities of participation in mobility programmes for visa-countries.

06 | Recommendations

AEGEE advocates for the following measures to be taken in order to involve NGOs and official stakeholders when talking about organization of international mobility programs, and also to simplify visa procedure and encourage young people to travel to all destinations within Europe without exceptions.

 06.01 |  Recommendations for the European institutions

  • calling for the recognition of AEGEE and other international youth NGOs as providers of impactful short-term youth mobility programs;
  • structured inclusion of AEGEE and other international youth NGOs in the dialogue on the development of policy proposals related to youth mobility programs and related matters;
  • creation of an enabling environment within AEGEE and other international youth NGOs when it comes to providing youth mobility opportunities, including providing financial support.

 06.02 | Recommendations for the National parties

  • creation of an enabling environment within AEGEE and other international youth NGOs when it comes to providing youth mobility opportunities, including:
    – providing support for young people in order to overcome visa barriers;
    – working towards simplifying and reducing visa procedures and obstacles;
  • involvement of young people in the parties concerned about the discussion over visa procedures and mobility obstacles and over actions for creating the desirable mobility.

References

  1. About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about/
  2. Europeans and the Erasmus programme: awareness and opinion. (2016, November). Standard Eurobarometer: Public opinion in the European Union, First results (86), pp. 34-35.
  3. Gagarkina, Y. (2015-2016). Summer University – AEGEE Superproject. Key to Europe, 91.
  4. Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 5: Summer Course. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.
  5. Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 6: Summer Course Plus. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.
  6. Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 7: Travelling Summer University. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.
  7. Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 9: Summer University Participation Fees. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 77.
  8. Statement of Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.aegee.org: https://www.aegee.org/about-aegee/statement-of-principles/
  9. Summer University 2016. (2016). Retrieved from www.projects.aegee.org: http://www.projects.aegee.org/suct/su2016/statistics2016.php
  10. What is AEGEE? (n.d.). Retrieved from www.aegee.org: https://www.aegee.org/about-aegee/

[1] What is AEGEE? (n.d.). Retrieved from www.aegee.org: https://www.aegee.org/about-aegee/

[2] Statement of Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.aegee.org: https://www.aegee.org/about-aegee/statement-of-principles/

[3] Europeans and the Erasmus programme: awareness and opinion. (2016, November). Standard Eurobarometer: Public opinion in the European Union, First results (86), pp. 34-35.

[4] About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about/

[5] About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about/

[6] Gagarkina, Y. (2015-2016). Summer University – AEGEE Superproject. Key to Europe, 91.

[7] About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about/

[8] European Currency Unit, a former basket of the currencies of the European Community, precursor to the euro

[9] About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about

[10] Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 5: Summer Course. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.

[11] Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 6: Summer Course Plus. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.

[12] Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 7: Travelling Summer University. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.

[13] Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 9: Summer University Participation Fees. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 77.

[14] Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Greece, Russian Federation, Turkey, Serbia, Romania, Azerbaijan, Slovenia, Ukraine, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Portugal, Slovakia, Austria, Latvia, Finland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Belgium, Georgia, Hungary, Republic of Moldova, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro

[15] Summer University 2016. (2016). Retrieved from www.projects.aegee.org: http://www.projects.aegee.org/suct/su2016/statistics2016.php

[16] Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine

[17] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (27), “6” (22) and “7” (48) divided by the whole amount (122)

[18] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (21), “6” (34) and “7” (45) divided by the whole amount (122)

[19] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (21), “6” (25) and “7” (57) divided by the whole amount (122)

[20] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (21), “6” (26) and “7” (45) divided by the whole amount (122)

[21] The respondent from Spain, 22 years old

[22] The respondent from Germany, 25 years old

[23] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (27), “6” (25) and “7” (38) divided by the whole amount (122)

[24] Respondent from Russia, 28 years old

[25] Respondent from Germany, 25 years old

[26] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (25), “6” (10) and “7” (13) divided by the whole amount (122)

[27] Respondent from Spain, 22 years old

[28] Respondent from Russia, 23 years old

[29] Respondent from Russia, 23 years old

[30] Respondent from Spain, 30 years old

[31] Respondent from Turkey, 27 years old

[32] Respondent from Spain, 29 years old

[33] Respondent from Turkey, 22 years old

[34] Respondent from Russia, 28 years old

[35] Respondent from Belarus, 24 years old

[36] Respondent from Russia, 28 years old

[37] Respondent from Germany, 23 years old

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Europe on Track training and opening conference in Budapest /europe-on-track-training-and-opening-conference-in-budapest/ Thu, 27 Apr 2017 07:06:08 +0000 /?p=7061 By Rut & Ele 

On the 15th of April, 2017, the ambassadors and project team started arriving in Budapest and Monday evening we finally all gathered together, offline, for the first time.

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Starting the Monday “fashionably” late, we went on a city tour, led by Luca Búr, to admire the beautiful architecture and fascinating history of the city. Budapest being known for its ruin bars, we ended the day at Szimpla, the city’s first and most famous ruin bar, known for its disoriented but charming environment.

Our training as ambassadors officially started on Tuesday, and the past few days have been intensive, motivating and full of caffeine-derived energy. During the training, we prepared for our workshops, conducted mock-interviews, and performed team building activities. Benedetto, one of the ambassadors from last year’s Team Blue joined us to share his experiences and knowledge transfer in order for us to learn from previous mistakes and best practises. Although we will probably face many challenges on the way, we now all believe that we are better prepared for any obstacles that may cross our paths.

On 27th April, the day before our opening conference, the annual Report by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe was released, in which states that “the Europe-wide project on democratic citizenship education should be implemented as a priority.” This statement proves the importance of the topic of our opening conference “Education for the present, Democracy for the Future”, which started on 28th April, officially launching Europe on Track! It is organized by AEGEE-Budapest, the Europe on Track Project Team and the Civic Education Working Group, with support of the Associations des Amis de Franck Biancheri.

The conference started with an address from the Comité Directeur, Maarten de Groot and Joanna Pankowska, followed by the president of AEGEE-Budapest, Ákos Glaub. Then followed a speech by the representative of Central European University, Serge Sych, who expressed his admiration of the unique bond of the AEGEE family after witnessing our dynamic energizer. The main organizer of the conference, Petra Buruzs, shared a fairytale story about the birth of the conference, that started with a “marriage proposal” from María Ballesteros Melero and Nicola Guida, from EoT and CEWG.

During the conference we had parallel workshops on The Concept of Civic Education, The Evolution of Democracy and The Power of Knowing. Using AEGEE’s democratic tool of finger gestures to communicate, the early hours did not withhold the participants from engaging in intense debate, breaking down definitions and constructs. During coffee(candy) breaks, we got to enjoy different candies brought from all over Europe! Furthermore, Marie Heller’s spoke about Civil Society’s role in shaping active and responsible citizens, using the complex history of civil society in Central Eastern Europe. This talk was followed by four different focus group sessions on Economics and Democracy, Current (European) Democracy, Civil Society and Euroland.

Not only did we listen to lectures, but the participants also came up with their own projects that they presented at the final day of the conference, promising to execute their ideas and move forward in creating a better Europe together.

The conference with 80 participants and speakers took place at the Central European University in Budapest, in the midsts of current struggles regarding academic freedom, and thus, according to many speakers, the perfect location at the perfect timing for this conference. Hungary is not an exception – right-wing populism is rising across Europe, bringing the future of democracy in danger, highlighting the responsibilities of all of us to gather against such forces. Democracy is not a given, but its dynamic and fragile nature requires citizens to be active, responsible, and critical.

We want young people’s voices to be heard, and we can’t wait to hear the thoughts of young people from all over Europe during the next one month. It’s almost amazing that we’ve only known each other for less than a week now, for it feels like we’ve known each other for years, and we are all incredibly excited for the journey ahead of us!

]]> The Future of Europe – Quo Vadis Europa? /the-future-of-europe-quo-vadis-europa/ Tue, 11 Apr 2017 09:06:32 +0000 /?p=7054 EMI Brexit Position

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Happy birthday, Franck! /happy-birthday-franck/ Sat, 11 Mar 2017 17:35:32 +0000 /?p=7036 By Daniela Maria Maris

Today we celebrate the Birthday of Franck Biancheri, a visionary to inspire European citizens to envision and build “tomorrow”.

While being a student, in 1985, Biancheri founded the first biggest European studentnetwork, AEGEE-Europe. This and his involvement in founding the Erasmus program were the first steps in building the first generation of “Europeans”. Throughout his life he has concerned himself with the European project and the it’s flaws. In the 90’s he concerned himself with the issues of the European public funds and lack of communication between EU institutions and citizens, major problems that enabled the development of a European citizenship.Franck_Biancheri_R0011616-for-Wikipedia_15-03-2007

Franck Biancheri remains the only person who managed to build a trans-European political movement, Initiative for a European Democracy (IED) and presented lists in different countries (France, Spain and the Netherlands) in the European elections in 1989.

Continuing to focus on political anticipation and activities serving the democratization of Europe in 2000 Franck Biancheri organized the ” Newropeans 2000 – New Europe, New Challenges, New Generations ” congress in Paris. An event that brought major stakeholder together to participate at the creation of tomorrow’s Europe. 2,000 young Europeans and politicians from national and European level took part at the event which had as a result the most important e-democracy world project, Eu-StudentVote. It consisted in the online election of the first EU Student Council in June 2002.

Newropeans Democracy Marathon was also one of the major projects16904866_10154359114592045_6811806335422664527_o of Biancheri which consisted of a series of 100 conferences in 25 different European countries in one single year. The aim was to point out that the European construction has reached a crucial stage of its history and that the main challenge of this decade consists of being able to reconcile democracy and European unity. He already draw attention in 2002-2003 that fact that if not taking any action many undemocratic movements will appear in Europe also as a result of populist trends. Following this project, Franck Biancheri was elected one of Time Magazine’s 2003 European Heroes (People’s Choice). He was nominated as one of the top 25 who are changing the world of Internet and Politics, as selected by Politics Online and the 5th E-Democracy Worldwide Forum!

As former president of Newropeans, the first trans-European political movement with the objective to democratize Europe, Franck Biancheri is considered to be the first trans-European political leader in the history of European democracy. Besides this he coordinated researches at t20170224_120604045_CAMhe European Laboratory of Political Anticipation LEAP/Europe 2020, with a particular focus on the Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin. Since 2012 his legacy is carried on by AAFB. The “Education for the present – Democracy
for the future” Conference is also part of Biancheri’s legacy, to bring young Europeans together and empower them to take action and shape tomorrow’s Europe.

For more information about Franck Biancheri, his work and ideas we recommend his book

“The Emergence of Eurocitizens”
http://geab.eu/…/the-emergence-of-eurocitizens-a-must-read…/

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Do you want to “Get involved”? AEGEE-Budapest knows how! /do-you-want-to-get-involved-aegee-budapest-knows-how/ Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:20:05 +0000 /?p=7023 By Ákos Glaub

AEGEE-Budapest is the winner of this year’s Franck Biancheri Award with the “Education for the Present, Democracy for the Future” Conference, which will be the opening conference of EoT4. AEGEE-Budapest is strongly committed to this edition’s topic, Civic Education, carrying out their local project “Get involved”. Get to know more about this interesting project thanks to AEGEE-Budapest president:20170221_181004181_CAM

Our latest event organized by AEGEE-Budapest’s very own „Get Involved!” Project explored the topic of populism. Approximately 50 students from different universities and academic fields attended the event. The discussion was part of the lecture series preceding the Franck Biancheri Award winner Conference “Education for the present, Democracy for the future” organized in April by the Budapest antenna, the Civic Education Working Group and the Europe on Track Project.

After two successful events examining the current political state of Turkey and the integration of refugees20170221_191120106_CAM the Project chose another actual and relevant subject. During a round table discussion our invited experts (Ádám Paár and Ágoston Mráz, political scientists, and Zoltán Farkas,a journalist) explored what populism really means, how people and the media use the term, thus we got to know the origins of the expression.

Furthermore, the audience could get to know the reasons why populism is so wide-spread nowadays, how it has become mainstream, and what are its effects on politics. Besides describing possible outcomes and future trends, the questions of the audience were answered and discussed.

All in all, the event brought us a closer look and better understanding of populism, a word and a trend that influences the political atmosphere all around the globe these days.

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AEGEE’s response to populism: European Planning Meeting Zagreb 2017 /aegees-response-to-populism/ Tue, 07 Feb 2017 01:10:14 +0000 /?p=7009 Long before President Donald Trump’s victory, Europe’s populist movements have been on the cusp of sweeping far-right, nationalist and euroskeptic parties into power across the continent in a series of upcoming elections. Once consigned to the fringes of the political scene, these parties now legitimately stand front and center alongside their more traditional counterparts.

The word “populism” and “populist movements” are everywhere in the media. But what the concept means in the everyday realities of citizens of Europe? Opinions might differ.

Many also claim that the upcoming European elections in several countries elections and the decisions citizens take might bring an end to the European project sooner than the Brexit negotiations would finish.

What will happen in France? It could be very impactful for the rest of Europe – especially if we begin to see a trend or more similar activity in the Netherlands and other countries.

What about Italy? Italy is well-known for its fluid political spectrum, having seen a number of populist parties come and go over the years.

And the more East we go in Europe the more we are being confronted with the alarming signs of populist movements taking gradual and stable ownership of not only political parties but of the mind of the general population. The case of Hungary, once being ‘the odd one out’ is slowly becoming the mainstream.

Application form for the conference: EPM Zagreb 2017 February 23-28 – “Populism and anti-European agitation”
Conference Program

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What can we do?

AEGEE / European Students’ Forum is organising one of the biggest thematic conferences for 250 young people in order to learn more not only about populism and its possible consequences for the future of Europe, but also to plan the next steps from an active and aware young generation that is not willing to leave space for radicalisation and extremism to take over the Europe we believe in.

The European Planning Meeting Zagreb will host a 3-days-event where young people from all corners will gather to learn from experts, to discover many different social factors that can cause the risk of populism, from media to identity questions, to debate about possible causes and consequences and to create an action plan where the network unites in action.

Young people have the power to change the course of tomorrow by not abiding to societal trends that are seemingly harmless, yet can have detrimental effects on the continent. AEGEE, therefore have put the development of flagship initiatives for its future that will bring back the most important European values to its members, and the society we live in.

AEGEE’s response to populism is exploring in detail how equal rights in society can change people’s mindset, how civic education can equip you with the most important skills to become an active citizen, how youth and skills development will build a smart society, and how European citizenship has been building a generation of young activists who don’t recognise national borders on the map or in the mindset.

AEGEE builds bridges for intercultural dialogue and understanding and creates space to explore common European challenges together, showcasing the different country’s reality by not focusing on the country at all: but by building a network of empowered cities that reaches out to the grassroot layers of society, reaching small communities and citizens as individuals and as change-makers.

If you would like to learn more about AEGEE and our activities and actions, start by joining us at the European planning Meeting Zagreb!

 

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Open Call for Hosting Locals for EoT4 /open-call-for-hosting-locals-for-eot4/ Tue, 03 Jan 2017 12:12:05 +0000 /?p=6999 Dear AEGEE members,

Wishing you a happy New Year, we are presenting you an open call for hosting the 4th edition of Europe on Track

If you haven’t heard about us yet, here is a short description:

Europe on Track (EoT) is a youth-led project in which 6 ambassadors in 2 teams cross Europe (along 2 different routes) with InterRail passes for one month to inform and interview young people about their visions of a future Europe in relation to different topics.

At each stop, the ambassadors organize and participate in local events, generating content and creating spaces for dialogue and discussion. The journey can be followed on social media via blogs, videos and photos. At the end of the trip, a documentary and quantitative and qualitative data analysis will be created as a recap.

How can you and your local get involved?

If you are interested in being one of the Ambassadors, check the call here!

Your local can apply to be a hosting antenna, which would involve organising a local event where the ambassadors can present the project to a wider audience.

Imagine a one day AEGEE event with a group of 20-30 people (or more!), some sessions and discussions, interactive games, and an event that is also open to non-AEGEEans in your city. The EoT project team will fully support the locals and provide a toolkit on how to organise your perfect EoT event.

This year’s topic for Europe on Track will be Civic Education.

The hosting local is required to:

  • Support the ambassadors by providing them with accommodation and meals for one or two nights

  • Arrange a place/room for the presentation/discussions and print materials

  • Organise a local event/activity* – in cooperation with the EoT Coordination Team

    *Possible options:
    The more you manage to organise the better!

  • Workshop

  • Signature collection for the ECI

  • Ambassadors delivering civic education classes in high schools

  • Visit another NGO or local media

  • Panel discussion with stakeholders/externals (teachers, politicians…)

  • Any other interesting idea that you might come up with!

Unfortunately, as things stand right now, there will be no economic support for the locals but we have and are working really hard on fundraising, should we be successful we will communicate that to the chosen locals.

To apply please send the motivation letter of your antenna to europeontrack@aegee.org until the 10th of February.

Europeanly yours,

The Europe on Track project team
Nicola, Maria, Tola, Luca, Hector, Denno, Eleanor, Sofia, Benedetto, Ksenia, Alp, Luka

]]> Open Call for Ambassadors for the 2017 edition! /open-call-for-ambassadors-for-the-2017-edition/ Mon, 02 Jan 2017 09:11:04 +0000 /?p=6992 Have you ever wished to just drop everything and jump on a train? Are you passionate about society and eager to explore other countries to find out what people actually think?

Then keep reading about this once in a lifetime opportunity!

AEGEE, one of the biggest european student organizations, is looking for 6 young, enthusiastic and proactive people willing to go on a one-month adventure across Europe. In collaboration with InterRail and the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘More than Education’(ECI), the Ambassadors will enquire about the current status of civic education in the different countries they are going to visit and address, through discussions and workshops, young people’s realities, aspirations and visions for the future of Europe.

The trip will start after a kick-off conference in Budapest taking place from the 21st to the 23rd of April, organised in collaboration with AEGEE-Budapest, the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri and the Civic Education Working Group. The journey will finish on the 23d of May at Agora Enschede 2017.

Practical info:

There will be two teams travelling through two different routes, each of them will be composed of a writer/interviewer, a photographer and a videomaker.

Requirements to be eligible to apply:

  • being between 18 and 30 years old, as of April 17, 2017;
  • being active in a (international) student organization or non-profit organisation with a civic education-related mission;
  • feeling strong ties to Europe;
  • being able to talk and work with people of different ages and cultures;
  • have consistent travel experience and an international mindset;
  • being responsible and reliable;
  • have a can-do and up-for-anything attitude;
  • being resistant to stress and physical fatigue;
  • being able to take initiative;
  • have an open mind!

Expected tasks:

  • administer quantitative questionnaires and conduct and record qualitative interviews;
  • deliver workshops;
  • increase people’s awareness on the importance of civic education and how to improve its current state;
  • promote the ‘More than Education’ ECI by collecting signatures;

You will find additional information and the requirements for the specific positions in the following form:

APPLY HERE by the 3rd of Feburary!

For any questions do not hesitate in contacting us at europeontrack@aegee.org or through the Facebook page.

europeontrack

 

 

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Europe on Track is back! /europe-on-track-is-back-2/ Fri, 30 Dec 2016 09:45:16 +0000 /?p=6990 Dear AEGEEans,

Since you ratified us as an official AEGEE-Europe project at Agora Bergamo 2016, we are working really hard to organise a fantastic 4th edition of Europe on Track. Now we will announce dates and topic of EoT4 and later this week we will launch the open call for both hosting antennas and travel ambassadors.

First of all, we are pleased to announce that, in collaboration with AEGEE-Budapest and the Civic Education Working Group, we are the winners of the Franck Biancheri Award. This means that we will be opening EoT4 with a conference in Budapest from April 21-23 and from there the ambassadors will start their race through Europe on-rail for a month until we wave the finishing flag at Agora Enschede on May 23

The topic of EoT4 will be Civic Education and we will collaborate with the the Civic Education Working Group and the European Citizens’ Initiative “More than Education”.

Why Civic Education?
Civic Education is learning the competencies, i.e. skills, knowledge and attitudes, required to be an active, democratic and responsible citizen. Its ultimate goal is to educate the population on democratic citizenship and make them aware of their rights and responsibilities.Civic Education aims at fostering a culture of active participation and responsibility among citizens.

We believe Civic Education is important because in a democracy we are supposed to hold the decision makers accountable, however we are not adequately trained to do so. This leaves the citizens with a lack of understanding, and subsequently a lack of democratic control and appreciation. Civic Education is one of the most important learning tools at our disposal, as it allows people to become informed and independent individuals in society. It is an education based on critical thinking, democratic participation and a common understanding of certain values and principles

EoT4 aims to understand what civic education and civic responsibility mean to you. This in turn will help AEGEE to understand how to reach out to people in order to build an active citizenship.

Why else is this important for us?
We want to empower young people to fight for better Civic Education in their countries. Moreover, one of the aims of the current Strategic Plan is to put Civic Education on the political agenda on all levels and this is not a goal of one working group but of AEGEE as a whole. We believe Europe on Track can make this happen. Lastly, we would like to send the ambassadors to high schools as well, wherever possible, in order to increase the impact of the project and ensure broader reach of our message.

Happy holidays and we look forward to working with you in 2017!
Europe on Track team

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For the first time in history: AEGEE Agora in Chisinau, Moldova /for-the-first-time-in-history-aegee-agora-in-chisinau-moldova/ Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:49:36 +0000 /?p=6885 The AEGEE Agora is the space to inspire the new generation of our members and to reconnect more experienced ones. A 5-days event filled with knowledge and cultural exchange put into practice, with over 700 people travelling to Chisinau, Moldova between 11-16th October.

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In times, when all European eyes are questioning the ideological and political nature of the European project and the discourses are focusing largely on internal matters of the EU and Brexit; AEGEE travelled outside the European Union to hold the general assembly and to discover the local reality of Moldova, a frontrunner of the EU Eastern Partnership programme.

The general assembly started on the 11th October with the ‘Perspectives and Prospects: from Eastern Partnership to EU’ Youth Conference. The event received the support of the New Narratives for Europe project of the European Commission, enabling the participants of the event to reflect on the European dimension of local discourses and exchanges. The youth of Moldova feels belonging to Europe and are wishful towards the future cooperation possibilities with other European countries.

Session about Eastern Partnership - led by AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project!

Session about Eastern Partnership – led by AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project!

Besides the general assembly of the organisation, the participants of the AEGEE Agora also got a chance to gain insight into the current social and political situation of Moldova. With the upcoming presidential elections at the end of October, with a divided society caught between pro-Russian and pro-European sentiments, with extreme rate of poverty and unmeployment, and the country’s concerning future prospects, the youth of Moldova is facing challenging times ahead.

The international participants also had the chance to reflect more on a local context very different from their own and this also supported the thematic discussions within AEGEE. Among many items on the agenda of the general assembly, the future thematic focuses of the organisations have also been defined for the next three years.

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Session with guest speaker: board member of the European Youth Forum

Between 2017-2020, AEGEE is going to work towards a better Europe by building capacity and active engagement of her members in the following focus area topics:

  • Equal Rights
  • Civic Education
  • Youth Development
  • European Citizenship

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The Agora is a space for learning – as it has always been. From procedural motions and plenary requirements, from sideroom discussions to long evening talks about the future of Europe, from practicing direct democracy and the excitement of voting and elections, the AEGEE Agora has once again brought hundreds of Europeans together for one unforgettable event that will aspire them to be active European citizens.

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Thank you AEGEE-Chisinau

for the unforgettable experience and for welcoming all of us in your home!

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You can find more coverage of the AEGEE Agora in Moldova under the following links:

http://moldpres.md/news/2016/10/11/16008079

http://sfm.md/2016/autumn-agora-chisinau-2016-everybody-in-the-casa-mare/

http://diez.md/2016/09/28/chisinaul-va-gazdui-cel-mai-important-eveniment-al-asociatiei-studentilor-europeni-iata-cand-va-avea-loc/

http://diez.md/2016/10/10/recomandari-de-evenimente-pentru-ziua-de-marti-11-octombrie/

http://diez.md/2016/10/13/foto-aegee-chisinau-organizat-un-eveniment-pentru-tineri-si-50-de-voluntari-din-mai-multe-tari-europene/

http://trm.md/en/social/tineri-din-peste-40-de-tari-se-vor-intalni-la-chi-sinau-in-cadrul-unei-conferin-te/

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