You know them… You have seen them before… Where? In Skopje and most recently at Agora Enschede where they were approved as a new contact. Their name Kastoria, contact Kastoria!
The AEGEEan interviewed Nicholas Varveris, the founder of the new Greek contact.
1) So congratulations for the new contact! Now the question everyone is dying to know the answer to – whose idea was it to establish this new AEGEE contact?
Thank you very much for your kind words and of course for the interest in writing about us and finding out more about what we do here in Kastoria. Over the past year I was the Public Relations Coordinator for the administrative board of AEGEE-Thessaloniki, where I learnt a lot and travelled to many places. I can say with great confidence that I fell in love with it. As I’m studying in Kastoria, many of my fellow students were asking me about it and after some discussions with my department’s administration, I realized that they were very willing to help us create our own antenna, here in Kastoria. Surely, Kastoria’s geography and beauty made this idea even better.
2) What difficulties did you encounter along the way?
I had never before worked to create an antenna nor did I have experience with the paperwork that a non-governmental organisation (NGO) requires, so in the beginning it all looked huge. I had to present the organization to the administration of my department, in order to have their approval but also their support. At the same time, I had to stay consistent with my obligations to the Comité Directeur, I want to thank Jüri Kirpu for supporting us, as well as all the members of the Comité Directeur, Manos Valasis (Former President of AEGEE-Europe), and all the members of the other Greek-speaking locals who showed us the way and made things easier with their help. And of course my fellow students who without yet knowing much about what AEGEE exactly is, showed willingness to learn and organize, we wouldn’t have done so much so quickly.
3) How many members do you have until now?
About 20 members have signed up so far, but the friends of the future AEGEE-Kastoria are quite a lot and increasing! As you know Greece is experiencing the economic crisis quite harshly and students are reluctant to give money to an NGO, even if the fee is really small. We are determined though to find ways for everyone who wants to join to be able to do so!
4) How have you been promoting your local so far?
We have already started printing out information leaflets for those wishing to get a first taste. Nevertheless, I am a supporter of ‘word-of-mouth’ promotion; almost everyone in Kastoria has heard about us, and we are still a contact.
5) Any future plans or events you want to share with the network?
There are two main directions on which we will for now be focusing in future AEEGEE-Kastoria:
a) First is an experimental phase which means we will try to operate all the European Working Groups at a local level (results will then be forwarded to the administrators of the working groups at the European level).
b) Secondly, in co-operation with the contact in Ioannina, we will establish a Balkan environmental collaboration focusing on the lakes of the surrounding geographical area (Ioannina, Kastoria, Prespa, Ohrid).
I honestly have no advice to give. Anyone who wants to create something will do it. After all, facing difficulties and trying to put into effect what you love can offer you immense knowledge. The only thing I have to say to anyone who has ideas is: don’t be afraid and don’t be lazy!
7) Name 5 reasons for people to visit Kastoria and its’ AEGEE crew!
a) Wonderful natural beauty found in such a small city.
b) Geographical location which links Kastoria to the entire Northern Greece and the Balkans.
c) Immense support from the community of Kastoria and the administration of our home institution.
d) Co-operation with all local organisations (which gives us all the opportunity to experience a great deal of activities).
e) We love what we do and we promise an amazing stay with surprises no one will expect!
Thank you and good luck for the future, Kastoria!
Written by Andra Toma, AEGEE-Bucureşti