Do you believe that every city has its own soul? If so, you might agree that it also has its own temper and unique attitude toward citizens and tourists. Lviv – a city in western Ukraine, former capital of the historical region of Galicia, is now considered one of the main cultural centres of Ukraine.
So about three weeks after the amazing Spring Agora Rhein-Neckar, about 30 active AEGEEans from Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Italy and Spain left their studies, work and routine life behind to come to the «NWM-Make it step». Lviv, in turn, was a bit surprised by this interesting group of people visiting, yet it was interesting to see how they would spend their warm weekend together.
So what has the city seen; what happened; and most interesting, what will stay? Let’s imagine that Lviv is telling the story…
So late at night (or early in the morning) Lviv found out that brave and very cute girl Natalia Ivleva (AEGEE-Voronezh) came to NWM. She was walking around small streets, enjoying warm weather and thinking that it was so good to be back! At that time, Annie Smailikova and Oksana Prokopchenko (AEGEE-Kyiv) were arriving at the train station where they were warmly welcomed by the new Network Commissioner Vira Kakhnych (AEGEE-Lviv) and Miguel Gallardo Albajar (Comité Directeur). One by one people were meeting at the hostel which was located 10 minutes away from the city centre and 35 seconds to the night clubs. Lviv was really happy to see that the participants were enjoying their accommodation and there were no questions like “which antennae are you from?” as the majority had met each other before. «So this might be the meeting of old and very good friends» – thought Lviv admitting that organizers did their best in order to provide guests with all needed information, answering questions about the programme. Roksolana Bubela (AEGEE-Lviv): «For me personally, the most exciting and interesting thing was the period of preparation –deciding what would be the best for future participants, how to make their stay the most comfortable and colourful, how to represent Lviv through our activities, meeting, chating, organizing and as a result of this fruitful cooperation lots of pleasant words and memories from you. They are priceless. I think everyone who took part in this NWM made it so special and unforgettable.»
After having a tasty lunch, Lviv followed the group thinking «how great that all of them are wearing the same white T-shirts with logo – this is a real team spirit!». Lviv was encouraging them to go up the stairs to get to the top of the city hall – «Trust me, the view will be amazing!»
Of course, right after they got there, they understood that it was worth it. «Will anyone take some photos? Group pictures?» – Lviv was wondering and the same moment, Ksenia Lupanova (AEGEE-Moskva) started to shoot short episodes promising that she would make a real video-report after (and indeed we did!)
City rally with funny tasks, opening ceremony where every antennae had to introduce itself by drawing something typical on the big sheet of paper and dinner in the centre of the city «Do they sleep at all – Lviv was wondering – or they fulfil the energy simply by talking to each other?». That NWM was really inspiring as there was no strong division among people – everyone could talk to the others, ask about the SU he/she did apply for, or just like Annie did – ask everyone about the experience of being a SU main coordinator. «All of them, no exceptions, are so opened and ready to share the experience – that is just amazing» – that was the city thinking about.
The next day, Sunday, Lviv was surprised that all the participants woke up in a good mood after the partying in the local night club and socializing with each other and went to the university. Although the majority were sleepy, they actively took part in discussions and listened to Miguel Gallardo Albajar (CD) who explained everything about AEGEE’s projects and Action Agenda which was useful not only for fresh members, but for everyone. After a small but well-organized coffee-break, Anicka Kotovich from Summer University Coordination Team (SUCT) made two «SU sessions» and everyone got involved into a game with string.
«Some of them became very close friends only for two days and already invited each other to the SUs, what an amazing thing this AEGEE is!» – Lviv was glad to make sunny and almost summer weather for guys who were enjoying vine in local pub called «Race of vine». Lviv also was so pleased when they gathered at the hostel’s kitchen, playing the AEGEE-game made by talented girls from AEGEE-Kyiv and drinking «Old market» liquor. Laughing, taking pictures and making faces on the video created by Ksenia and after a few minutes gathering in the hall to congratulate AEGEE-Lviv with its 20th anniversary. Lviv was touched with the warm speeches from each local and so was Anastasiya Hirnyak (AEGEE-Lviv): «It was an unforgettable experience to be a part of the organization of the first NWM in Lviv. The biggest pleasure was all those little surpises that participants made for AEGEE-Lviv anniversary. I am glad that this event gathered so many versatile and bright people.»
Lviv was enjoying seeing happy faces of the birthday-local. And while participants were tasting delicious AEGEE-cake with champagne in the club, Lviv even noticed that some participants took not only one piece, but more.
The last day Lviv was extremely sad that such great guys were leaving, that is why it was raining from the early morning. Only after they gathered at the university Olia Yushchenko (AEGEE-Kyiv), who was the previous NetCom, decided to make an open conversation about the present problems and possibilities of AEGEE and everyone was very involved and active – Sofia Lobakina (AEGEE-Voronezh) says: «For me this NWM in Lviv was a great experience! It was my first Network Meeting, I saw a lot of AEGEE people doing their best to promote AEGEE in our area, though we have some problems inside our Network, after that I felt that my motivation had risen». Although the topic was important and serious, the merit of AEGEE is that there is always place for laugh and fun. That is why when Ksenia got back AEGEE-Moskva flag which was stolen by AEGEE-Kyiv, she had to stand up and sing «Ukraine» every time someone says «AEGEE» and shout «Borsh! Borsh! Borsh!» when the word «local» is said.
After the lunch, AEGEE people went right to the city centre, where the coolest group picture from the top of the city hall was taken. The atmosphere was so friendly and nice, that Lviv could not help it and started crying again. Yet, they were prepared and run to the cozy café where the famous Lviv’s coffee was tasted. Aleksey Sobol (AEGEE-Sevastopol): «The atmosphere between us and organizers was very nice and when I am thinking about the NWM I understand that we not only worked productively but also gained new knowledge, met new friends and had an amazing time!». Oleg Gladchenko (AEGEE-Kharkiv) agrees with Aleksey: «NWM is always a possibility to talk about serious topics and to meet people who understand its importance. This one was no exception – we had plenty of ideas while debating and great parties as well!»
The last hours are always have a bit of sadness but Lviv decided to give participants a possibility to enjoy its evening beauty and there was no rain, so participants were walking around the city sightseeing wondering how fast the time was running out, discussing the ideal SUs and buying souvenirs. Hugs, kisses and traditional «See you somewhere in Europe» – that is an integral part of any AEGEE event. «The light that is inside every participant is inspiring! NWM was so wonderful because we all have it inside and everyone was ready to share it with each other» Valerii Sharuda (AEGEE-Dnipropetrovsk)
Special thanks to everyone who shared with us their memories and ideas, thanks to Ksenia Lupanova (AEGEE-Moskva) for the video and AEGEE-Lviv for pictures.
Thank you for the photos to Roksolana Bubela (AEGEE-Lviv), Ksenia Lupanova (AEGEE-Moskva).
Written by Annie Smailikova, AEGEE-Kyiv