AEGEE in 6 lessons (Thanks to AEGEE.IT website and Rainbow-team)
AEGEE es el acrónimo de «Association des États Generaux des Étudiants de l’Europe» , es una asociación, internacional, apolítica, laica, independiente y sin ánimo de lucro que administrativamente no esta dividida por paises. Su base principal se encuentra en Bruselas y todos sus miembros son voluntarios.
Este mini «curso» en inglés, extraido de la web de aegee.it, explica el origen de AEGEE y pretende ser una guia para todos aquellos que se preguntan de donde surgió un movimiento imparable de jóvenes que mas allá de fronteras políticas, antiguas guerras y rivalidades historicas, han pasado página y desde un punto de vista moderno establecen relaciones entre ellos a todos los niveles conformando la idea de una nueva Europa sin fronteras donde desde la diferencia poder estar todos unidos en base a los derechos humanos, la libertad de conciencia y el intercambio de conocimientos y experiencias.
Maybe you participated to a Summer University or another event and now you are motivated to become active in AEGEE? Or you simply want to know more about it ?
Well, then you have 2 possibilities: you can go to an European School or a Training Course or simply follow our online-course, consisting of mini-lessons.
1st lesson : SHORT HISTORY AND BASICS OF AEGEE
Did you ever ask yourself how AEGEE was born?
A) Maybe out of a communication process between various student associations?
B) Or out of a conference?
Well, answer B is right!
Once upon a time, when most of you were still babies or going to kindergarten, there was a man called Franck Biancheri who organized a huge conference called «EGEE» (the name was related to the Aegean Sea where democracy was created 2,000 years ago), aiming at overcoming the paralysation of the European integration process.
This conference was held on 16th April 1985 in Paris, which is the official birthday of AEGEE. That’s the reason why the name of our association is french: Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe .
Soon the first locals were established: in Paris, Munich, Milan, Leiden, London and Madrid. Just imagine, from 6 locals to the actual 260 in 20 years! And what’s more important, now AEGEE is present all around Europe and it is a natural thing for us while in 1985 it was present only in western Europe and an expansion was impossible.
Now after this historical facts… WHY has AEGEE been established? Which were the aims?
Actually AEGEE wanted to be plat-form for young Europeans to discuss the future of Europe, to present their ideas to the officials of the EC institutions and national governments and to influence European policy in favour of students.
But what about the situation of AEGEE nowadays?
AEGEE managed to become one of the biggest interdisciplinary student associations in Europe; it is represented by 17.000 students, active in 260 cities, in 42 countries all around Europe – so let’s say that during 20 years AEGEE achieved a lot, thanks to the active members and their voluntary work.
Everyone who ever attended an event knows that AEGEE is a non-profit organization and that organizers do not receive any money for their work – that’s why AEGEE-events are so cheap and attractive for students.
Not for nothing a very important aim is the promotion of student mobility.
Other aims are the promotion of the idea of an unified Europe without any physical or mental borders – that’s why AEGEE doesn’t recognize any national level (like AEGEE-Italy) – and to foster cross-border cooperation, human rights, tolerance, european dimension of education and democracy.
To achieve those aims, AEGEE locals organize a lot of european events which act as a cultural exchange between young europeans: Summer Universities, Trainings, Projects, Conferences… to mention only so! me of them (I will explain the different kinds of events in another lesson)
2nd lesson: HOW TO BE UP TO DATE TO WHAT IS GOING ON WITH AEGEE- THE MAILING LISTS AND THE WEBSITE
The mailing lists are important tools in order to exchange informations and to be up to date to new events, projects ecc
Let’s start with the RAINBOW-LIST which is our regional mailing list (for Malta, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina) and to which you are probably subscribed to if you receive this email.
Apart from the Rainbow-L (our region is called «Rainbow») there are the mailing lists of the other 9 «AEGEE-Regions»: DACH, Balkania, Carpathian, Central, Spirit, North, North-West, South-West and Wiesen.
The regional MLs serve the purpose of cooperation and discussion for neighbouring antennae in neighbouring countries of a particular region.
The most important MLs are the AEGEE-L – which is the main discussion list, with any topic regarding AEGEE – and the AGORA-L where statutory-meeting matters are discussed.
If you are interested to know everything about events, you should subscribe to EVENT-L – here the new events are announced, with a link to apply to the event.
There are a lot of other mailing lists, for example every project and working group has its own one. A lot of people are subscribed to AEGEE-SU-L, which is the one of the Summer Univeristies- very useful because free places in SUs are announced there. Of course this list is used during SU period.
Another important ML is BOARDINFORM-L on which practical informations for the board-members of an antenna are communicated – for example, right now before the Agora the treasurer of AEGEE-Europe explained how to pay the membership fees for the locals, how much the fee is ecc.
To subscribe to the mailing lists, just go to http://lists.aegee.org, where you can find the archives of all MLs.
Now let’s come to the website. As you might know, it’s www.aegee.org and there is really a lot of information about everything that concerns AEGEE – you should explore it on your own, it’s really worth it!
But I’ll give you some hints. First of all, you should create an aegee account- it’s very simple, just register with your name and the number on your membership card and you will get a password. You can explore the website without being logged in but you will have access to less information (for example you can see the evaluations of Summer Universities or the names and emails of the board-members of each local only if you are logged in).
Very useful is the page of the events where all events are listed, you can have a look at the past ones and add a new event if your local is organizing one. That’s also the page from where you can apply to the events.
If you want to know in which cities AEGEE is present, go to the link «network».
Going to «office», you can look at the Address Book which contains the names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of the board-members of every AEGEE-body. And you can find an incredible amount of any kind of material, ready to be downloaded (PR material, internal education material ecc) from the AEGEE-database.
3rd lesson: STRUCTURE AND BODIES OF AEGEE
There are many possibilities for you to become active: in your local Antenna, in a Working Group, a Project, as a delegate at the Agora ecc…
But let’s examine the bodies, one by one.
The Comite Directeur (CD) consists of 9 persons from at least 4 different countries. They are elected by the Agora and they live and work together in the Headoffice in Brussels (the so-called CD House).
The CD is composed of a President, a Secretary General, a Financial Director and six additional members charged with specific tasks: Director for European Institutions, for External Relations, Public Relations, Human Resources, Network Development and Projects.
As a whole, the CD is the administrative and representative body of AEGEE, with responsibility for contacts to the European Union and The Council of Europe.
The Commissions are supporting or controlling bodies to the CD. They are: the Audit Commission, the Members Commission, the Juridical Commission and the Network Commission. The members of the Commissions are elected by the Agora.
The Audit Commission checks the bookkeeping and approves the financial reports of AEGEE bodies (AEGEE-Europe, Locals, Working Groups) and presents a report about its work to the Agora. The 3 financially competent (e.g. Economics students) members have to be from three different AEGEE locals and of course they cannot be members of the CD in order to guarantee the indipendence of this organ.
The Juridical Commission consists of 2 persons from different AEGEE locals (plus one person appointed by the CD). They have legal knowledge (law students) and they are busy not only before and during the Agora (preparing and supervising the voting procedure, counting ballot papers) but even after: they are responsible for updating the CIA – no, not the one you might think about but the Corpus Iuridicum Aegeense which contains the principles, statutes, working formats of the bodies ecc.
Curious? Have a look at it: from the homepage aegee.org follow the link office and AEGEE databases- AEGEE info by type- Corpus Iuridicum.
Apart from that, they verify if the statutes of the locals are conform to the model statute defined by AEGEE-Europe and assist the CD and the locals in legal matters.
The Members Commission is convoked in cases of severe incidents inside the network, trying to investigate the problem and to find an adequate solution. It is composed by 4 members elected by the Agora plus by the President of the Juridical Commission (and one observer of the CD, but without voting rights).
But who can convoke the Members Commission?
-at least 10 Antennae or
-2 Commissions or
-the CD and one Commission (not the Juridical C.)
Now you might ask yourself what a decision of the Members Commission might consist of?
Well, there are different possibilities: an amicable settlement among the parties or a sentence (that has to be ratified by the following Agora) in which a local might be cancelled, excluded from organizing a Summer University for the next year or loose its voting rights at the Agora for up to 1 year.
So let’s say that if everything works properly in AEGEE, the Members Commission is out of work.
Last but not least, the Network Commission. Here we have 10 members: the Netcom Commissioners of each region. They elect one person among theirselves who is the Speaker of the Network Commission. The Network Commissioners support and motivate the locals in their area (to organize european events, for example), stimulate the cooperation among the locals and help to set up new locals but not only: if a new local is «born», they pay special attention to its «first steps» (helping with the organization of their first event..). The Netcommies are some kind of mediators between the locals and the CD as well: since the CD can’t care about every single local, the Netcommies assure the flow of communication between them.
Not for nothing the motto of the Network Commission is to serve and protect.
A special lesson about the Netcom and the Regions will follow later.
The last body for this lesson:
The Liaison Officers represent AEGEE-Europe towards an institution or organisation (for example UNESCO or European Youth Foundation). The CD decides for which institutions a LO should be appointed and decides on the person as well, after having addressed an open call (on the main mailing list) to the network. Anyway the decision has to be ratified by the Agora.
What’s the advantage of having LOs?
Well, the contact to institutions is very important for AEGEE – especially if there is the possibility to ask for grants. So we have our special agents who know everything about the policies and programmes of the organisation and inform the network about possibilities of application for those grants – so the chance for receiving them is higher.
Furthermore, they promote and support AEGEE’s actions and projects and towards «their» organisation.
Of course LOs speak the official language of the institution and live possibly near to the headquarter in order to assure personal contact.
NOTE I have only one small but essential remark related to Liason Office besides all related information presented, I should add that since Agora Zaragoza, 2003 we focus our attention on the development of Liaison Agents, as well.
Liaison Office gathers Liaison Officers, Liason Agents, Chairperson of Liaison Agents and up to three Councillors all working for the benefits of our Association.
Liaison Agents, who are representing the association, either towards governments, EU delegations, embassies, foundation, media, either companies and National Youth Councils. NYCs are platforms of NGOs in different countries, which might have a big impact on national youth policies, some funding possibilities and various opportunities for cooperation.
AEGEE Liaison Agents towards respective National Youth Council will be representing AEGEE Europe in the NYC in most cases with observatory status, which means speaking, but not voting rights.
Another special attention has been given to Liaison Agents towards companies who must raise funds for AEGEE-Europe. Additionally, they will help with FR for European projects and Working Groups of AEGEE.
Chairperson of Liaison Agents would ensure proper information flow between AEGEE LAs and Comité Directeur, making sure that LAs follow AEGEE policies in their activities and that they are doing something in general 😉 and also cooperates with LOs, can request at any time the support of the Councillors. Councillors support, with their experience, the work of Chairperson of LAs and the work of LOs, when is needed or requested.
But more information concerning AEGEE-Liaison Office or LAs task and obligation, either
check on www.aegee.org >> Virtual Office>> Status online Section for Corpus Juridicum Aegeense-
CIA (14.1 version), either drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
4th lesson: THEMATICALLY DEFINED BODIES OF AEGEE
I. Working Groups
The Working Groups are groups of AEGEE-members who are particularly interested in a certain issue and organize events (conferences, workshops..) about those topics. The results of the work done are presented at the Agora.
How are WGs born? Well, they have to sign the Convention d’Adhésion like the Antennae (more about this procedure in the next lesson). The members of the WGs elect the board-members – a Speaker, a Treasurer and a Secretary. Often this happens online.
In AEGEE we have 3 types of WGs: AEGEE, Supporting and Thematic Working Groups.
Let’s start with the AEGEE-WGs:
The particularity of those WGs is that they have the same status of the Antennae. They are registered as associations, have their own statutes and delegates at the Agora and consequently voting rights.
Which are those WGs??
First of all, we have the Academy, also called Human Resources WG since their task is to motivate and provide training for AEGEE members. They organize internal education events (European Schools, Training Courses..) and run a database with all the IE materials (lectures, case working) and the trainers (experienced AEGEE-members). If you wish to become really active in AEGEE and organize many many great events, you should check out the calendar of events for IE events, especially European Schools.
The Education WG’s topic is Higher Education and its development. They promote the exchange programs and spread information about them. Just a little curiosity: AEGEE had an important rule for the promotion of the Erasmus/Socrates exchange program!
Cultural WG – the name says all! They organize and support cultural events (like the Performing Arts Summer School) and collaborate with the projects which enhance cultural understanding and diversity (like the Euro Islam and Find Europe project).
Human Rights WG – Its topics cover Balkan matters, visa issues, immigration, crimes against humanity and more. They organize often conferences (for example about human import).
International Politics WG – people sharing passion for international politics! Celebrations for the EU Enlargement, conferences about European Identity, diplomatic seminars… a very active WG!
Now let’s come to the Thematic WGs. As the name says, they are a kind of platform for discussion and knowledge on a specific topic. They do not have the Antenna-Status, thus they do not have voting rights.
Dance WG – discovering the roots and traditions of other cultures by dancing.. DWG organizes events with dance workshops, dance exhibitions (the last one in Torino)… The motto of this WG is «shake it!» – you can imagine why 🙂
East West WG – they support the development of AEGEE-locals in Central and Eastern Europe and their integration with the ones from Western Europe. Meanwhile AEGEE expanded to the Caucasus – not bad if we consider that 15 years ago it didn’t exist in Eastern Europe..
Voyage WG is the youngest one: it exists since the Fall Agora 2003. It deals with… travelling! They set up a database with useful information about how to get to an event and then to the next one 😉
Last but not least, we have the Supporting WGs: they support the CD and the locals in a specific task.
Bobigosa is the WG with the most curious name. It was created by some experienced AEGEE members in order to elaborate fruitful proposals and to discuss about their vision of AEGEE and in particular what AEGEE should be but is not. Some examples? They promoted transparency and the compulsory speed course about AEGEE at every Summer University.
Information Technology WG – the WG for computer-maniacs. Of course they manage the IT infrastructure of AEGEE (databases, servers etc) and deal with IT related topics. They have an own IE event which is the IT European School.
Public Relations WG – they support the CD and the Network in PR activities and work to improve the image and visibility of AEGEE. Even they have their «own» IE event: PR European School.
Visa Freedom Fighters – they are a group who strive for the abolition of visas and obstacles for persons’ mobility in Europe. If a local organizes an event, they have to care about the visas of participants who need it. Did you ever ask yourself how to ask for a visa (and obtain it)? Just read the online-visa booklet on http://web.aegee.org/visabooklet , published by the VFF.
Did you find YOUR WG? Then… go to www.aegee.org/wg and get registered to your favourite WG(s)! Just login with your aegee-ID (see second lesson), then click on the WG and «JOIN». The WGs have their own mailinglists – if you want to subscribe to one, go to http://www.karl.aegee.org/aeg-web.nsf/Full/Office–Mailinglists
So you will be up to date with the activities, elections ecc…
You can get some info visiting http://www.karl.aegee.org/aeg-web.nsf/Full/Projects–Projects?OpenDocument
5th lesson: GEOGRAPHICALLY DEFINED BODIES
In this lesson I will talk about locals, regions and the Netcom.
Let’s start with the locals:
The birth of a local
Once upon a time there was a little but enthusiastic group of students in a city called Somewhere. They heard about AEGEE and decided to join, but… there was no local in their city! No problem, they thought – we could create a new local! So they contacted the CD and set up a Contact. Soon they had their own statute and lots of ideas about their future activities and so they were ready to become Contact Antenna. They signed the Convention d’Adhésion at the following Agora and became officially AEGEE-Somewhere. Within one year they organized their first event and finally they became an Antenna.
So as you see the first step is always set up a contact, together with a group of at least 10 interested people. The statute has to be approved by AEGEE-Europe and the Juridical Commission. There are model statutes so it’s quite easy.
Maybe you remember from the last Agora when all the plenary was singing and clapping hands- well that was the moment when the new locals signed the Convention d’Adhésion, the contract between the local and AEGEE-Europe which gives to the local the right to adopt the denomination AEGEE-(city).
But still, the local is «only» a Contact-Antenna (this means for example that they don’t have voting right at the Agora). To become an Antenna it has to organize within one year an european event (for example a Summer Event within the Summer University project) and of course pay the membership fees and send a financial report and a members list, just as every local.
Once the local is upgraded to Antenna, it has some obligations in order to remain an Antenna, like sending delegates to the statutory meetings, sending financial and activity reports, organizing european events at least every 2 years…
If they don’t fulfill the criteria, they might be downgraded to Contact-Antenna again and then cancelled.
Who wants to found a local has to contact the CD but of course lots of help can come from the Network Commissioner of the Region and his team who can motivate the new local and help them with the first steps.
Some «history» about the Network: In 1988, AEGEE was present in only 9 countries with about 40 locals. After ’89 locals in Eastern Europe were founded- the first ones were Leipzig, Cluj Napoca, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.
At the moment the countries with the most Antennae are Germany, Italy, Romania, Poland and the Netherlands; while in some countries AEGEE is very weak or completely absent, like in France, England and Ireland.
How huge is the network now? Well, AEGEE is present in 260 cities in 42 countries.. that’s not bad! 🙂
As I told in the second lesson, AEGEE doesn’t have any national level but in order to create a «bridge» between the CD in Brussels and the locals, in 1996 the Network Commission was created. We have one Network Commissioner for each of the 10 regions, supported by Subcommissioners.
Their task is to «serve and protect» – they enhance the communication between the CD and the locals, they motivate the locals, help to found new ones and to prevent others from being cancelled.
But not only: they can be mediators if there are serious problems in a local, they keep personal contact and friendship to the boards of the single Antennae and, last but not least, they organize the Regional Meeting. This is a meeting for the active members, where to discuss about the future of the region and of course to get to know better your neighbours.
Sooo, if you have any AEGEE-related problems, you know who to approach 😉
Last thing for this lessons, some words about the Connections: they are «partners» of AEGEE, collaborating with our association but they are not part of the AEGEE-Network. At the moment there is only one Connection, in Tomsk.
As you know, in order to know about the events, you can visit www.aegee.org/events and subscribe to EVENT-L. But how to find some orientation in the jungle of the many many events?
First, a hint to the difference between local and european events:
Local events are organized by an AEGEE local and are not announced in the calendar of events. Those events do not involve AEGEE-Europe and they can be hold in any language.
An example? Most locals organize various activities for erasmus students like trips ecc.; or the local Agora where all the members of the local meet.
European events are organized by one or more locals or other bodies (like working groups). This event is announced in the online-calendar and all AEGEE members can apply. The fee should be kept as low as possible and include at least lodging and 2 meals.
Often 2 or more locals organize an exchange for their members (thus, it’s not open for everybody) but they are considered european events as well.
AEGEE-Europe Events are organized by at least 2 locals from different countries and deal with an european topic. Of course AEGEE-Europe has to decide whether an event can have this status or not.
But which events can be part of it?
First of all, the statutory events like Agora and EBM (what’s that? Just keep on reading 🙂 but even events within AEGEE-Europe Projects and Yearplan Projects (find out more about it on the homepage, going to Projects).
The dates for the non-local events has to be confirmed by the Comité Directeur because it should be avoided that more european events take place at the same time. This is not always possible but at least during the Agora it should work…
Now let’s start with some practical explanation.
I already mentioned the statutory meetings: Agora and European Boards Meeting.
The Agora is the General Assembly where about 1000 AEGEE-members meet twice a year (Spring and Autumn Agora) in order to discuss proposals, strategies and projects for the next term. Also the Comite Directeur, the members of the 4 Commissions and of some Project Teams (like the Summer University Coordination Team and the Find Europe CT) and the Secretary and Chairperson of the Agora/EBM are elected at the Agora. Furthermore, the Agora approves the Moral Report of the CD, the Financial Report and the Budget presented by the Treasurer and any modifications to the Statute of AEGEE-Europe (for example, at the last Agora some linguistic corrections of the Statute were approved).
So as you see the Agora is the hugest and most important event within AEGEE.
The second statutory meeting is the EBM (European Boards Meeting – until some months ago called Planning Meeting) takes place once a year (at least 1 month before the Spring Agora). It is a kind of staff-meeting: the WGs, Commissions, Project Teams and of course the CD have to participate, while the local boards send their delegates (and only delegates-visitors are an exception). As you can see, the EBM has a concrete target group: the decision-makers within AEGEE.
This «restriction» should lead to more concrete results for the workshops (huge part of the EBM takes part in the form of workshops)
Also the CD presents the update of the strategy plan in advance so that the boards can comment it according to the proposals and the workshop results. So the CD can modify the strategy plan for the next Agora where it has to be approved.
An important tool for AEGEE are the Internal Education Events organized by the Academy with the help of experienced AEGEE-members as trainers.
The main one is the European School: one week of intense work consisting in lectures, simulations and case-working will introduce the participants to more or less all aspects of AEGEE – how to run an Antenna, how to raise funds, how to attract new members etc.
For the advanced ones who want to become active on european level, there is the European School 2, dealing with project management and the development of skills for working in a team.
Then, we have the thematic European Schools, dedicated to a particular topic:
PRES (Public Relations), FRES (Fund Raising), ITES (Information Technology) and SUPS (Summer University Project School- in order to learn how to organize a great SU, with all its aspects like task division, FR, treasury, dealing with participants..)
But what about the trainers? Well, they have their «own» IE event: Training for Trainers, where they learn how to prepare successful IE events.
IE events do exist not only on European level but even on local level: the LTC (Local Training Course) takes place during a weekend and is a good way to motivate the members of the near locals, giving them the possibility to learn about AEGEE and to get to know the aegee-people of the near Antennae.
Also the Regional Meeting is an opportunity to hold some lectures and caseworking, apart from the discussions about regional matters.
Other types of events are seminars and conferences (dealing with topical interest, often organized by WGs or Project Teams), AEGEE-meetings (like a Regional Meeting), exchanges and of course celebrations (like the 20th anniversary of AEGEE-Europe this year) and recreation (ski-weeks..).
Within the events there are some being part of an AEGEE Project (like Summer Universities, Find Europe events etc) – Marino will send a presentation about the Projects soon.