Local of the Month: AEGEE-Brescia and their “European Talks”

AEGEE-Brescia, founded in 1997, has certainly brought up some known faces and memorable events over the years. Located in the north of a country with so many well known places, Brescia may not have been the most recognisable city, but this AEGEE local has definitely contributed to the fact that there are probably just a few people left in the overall AEGEE-Network who do not know this lovely city.

Having only about 10 active members, it is remarkable how many local and international activities they manage to organise. Among these are events in the framework of “The European Year of Volunteering”, “European Day of Languages”, the annual Summer University (this year called Brescia Olympics 2012) and many other local activities, like a public speaking course that helps the local students to improve their English skills. Especially worth mentioning is the annual series of lectures called “European Talks“. It is for this particular event that we are declaring AEGEE-Brescia the Local of the Month! Moreover, keep in mind that they will also celebrate their 15th anniversary soon!

The AEGEEan interviewed Andrea Gatti, the coordinator of this year’s “European Talks”:

The AGEEan: This year’s “European Talks” was not the first edition of the event. Could you tell me about the beginnings of the project? When did it start?

Andrea: As far as I know, the “European Talks” were born as an idea of Michele Turati, who was the pioneer of this event about three years ago. Every year, AEGEE-Brescia’s team applied for funds from our university in order to let some prestigious speakers come to Brescia to deliver a lecture about different important topics regarding Europe.

The AGEEan: Tell me more about the concept. Do you have a special topic for each year’s edition? How do you select the topics?

Andrea: Every year, our board does some brainstorming, we create a list of different topics from our own ideas, television or from the internet and we select the ones that could be the most interesting to our university students (the more currently relevant a topic is, the better it is for us).

The organisers consider "European Talks" an important success in the life of AEGEE-Brescia

The AGEEan: You have the fortunate support of your university that reimburses the travel costs of the speakers. Is it difficult for you to find suitable candidates? How do you make the selection?

Andrea: Yes, we are lucky to receive some funds from our university, but it is not that simple and we always need to make compromises in terms of costs, as well as with the selection of the speakers. Sometimes, we already have direct contact with them and that’s the easiest way. Another way is to send out an open call to ask for speakers. After this, we select from all the applications the best speakers for our topics.

The AGEEan: How successful was the event so far on the local level? Do you get many participants and much visibility?

Andrea: For us, organising such an event is a big success. From our university’s students, we don’t get so much feedback. Probably because we still have some technical problems to solve for the next years (it takes place too late in the evening and we need to advertise it better – we are missing some contacts with the university professors). There are between 10-20 people attending each time.

The AGEEan: There have already been so many lectures, do you have any that you can particularly remember? Which one was your favourite and why?

Andrea: Of course I liked all of the lectures, as they were really interesting, but I can say that there were two I liked the most: “Social Media and how the internet has changed our life” by Michael Makowiecki and “Be volunteer – be successful” by Tatjana Boicova. The first one I liked a lot, as it was about a topic that is close to my field of studies (Computer Science Engineering) and I felt more involved in it. The second one I liked because of  the expression and creativity of the speaker. Everything was very clear, full of examples and nicely involving  the audience.

Tatjana Boicova's presentation: Be Volunteer - Be Successful!

The AGEEan: Do you already have plans for next year? If yes, do you want to change something about the concept?

Andrea: At the moment, we don’t have any concrete plans for next year. We will think about this after the elections of our new board in September.

The AGEEan: What kind of advice would you give to other locals that would like to organise something similar?

Andrea: I think the best solution would be to involve in the event the local university professors (as audience or as speakers as well). In this way, the audience will be more motivated and the university will probably give you more money for the event.


Written by Michael Makowiecki, AEGEE-Hamburg

Photographs by Michele Minuti, AEGEE-Brescia

Attention: If you think you know an antenna, which deserves to be honoured as “Local of the Month”, send an email with the locals’ name and the reason for nominating to aegeean@aegee.org.