The AEGEEan is proud to present our new Member of the Month from AEGEE-Berlin, Hans-Peter Bretz. You may know him by his nickname Hape. Elected for the Summer University Coordination Team (SUCT) at Agora-Budapest, he has been trying something new this year and dedicated most of his summer to it. Travelling between summer universities, meeting new people and observing how all of the work SUCT went the year before turned out in practice. The AEGEEan just could not resist from learning more.
To start off, why is your nickname Hape?
In German people sometimes have double names, which is different from just having two names: they are supposed to be used together. Instead of always saying the full name, they are often abbreviated, e.g. Karl-Heinz to Kalle, or, in my case Hans-Peter to Ha-pe or simply Hape. My name is also completely out of fashion, I have never met someone with the same name who was younger than fifty. Even though Hans sounds like the most German name, most Germans do not really get “Hape” either. But there is a famous comedian called Hape Kerkeling, so they usually ask something like “You mean like Hape Kerkeling? Wait, is he also called Hans-Peter??”
What have you been doing this summer for AEGEE? We heard you were traveling quite a bit
That is true, the SUCT got some Interrail tickets to visit Summer Universities, so I took a three week long trip from Berlin on to the East and visited eight Summer Universities (SU).
Which summer universities did you visit?
I was at the SUs of AEGEE-Praha, AEGEE-Wroclaw/Opole/Lviv, AEGEE-Poznan/Gdansk/Torun, AEGEE-Warszawa/Riga, AEGEE-Krakow/Berlin, AEGEE-Katowice/Bratislava, AEGEE-Debrecen/Sibiu and finally AEGEE-Cluj Napoca.
What were you looking for in the SUs and what were you checking?
The main idea was to look at the programmes and how they realised them, and also to get some feedback by the organisers on our work and communication. Of course it is hard to tell if 100% of a programme is done when you are there for only a few days. But you can get a good impression of how the organisers work and also some feedback from the participants. By the way, it was quite funny how my presence was perceived by the participants at different SUs. At the beginning of my trip, I was at an SU where the group had already had some time to form and bond. When I sat down with some of them between programme points to enjoy a beer and some small talk and asked a general question about the SU to break the ice, they just smiled and made jokes how they would not let me spy on the organisers. At other times, some participants would see me as some sort of complaint box for every little thing they did not like about their SU. For me, it was also very interesting to see how the organisers prepared their SU, what different approaches they took, how they interacted with their group and how the general experience was influenced by the team of organisers, but also by the participants. Often, SUs are said to have their own atmosphere, and I wanted to see where that comes from.
Any favorite SU among the ones you visited?
Before my trip, I was afraid that 2-3 days at each SU would not be long enough to get a good impression. Later I was a bit surprised how much more you get out of a few days if you try to have an open and active mind and pay attention to details instead of just being part of the masses at an event. Still, the impression of a particular SU also depended on the parts of the programme I could take part in. In Prague, I arrived just in time for the city rally, whereas my day in Poznan was the relaxing day in between other days filled with programme (both were very nice, by the way). On a more personal level, the last SU of my trip, in Cluj Napoca, was great. My first SU and AEGEE event was the same SU, 3 years earlier, and it was still done by the same core team. I met some of the old organisers and even a participant again, and also I saw some participants from AEGEE-Berlin there. You could see how having so much experience in a team helps with all the little things in a Summer University. But I also want to thank all the other organizers who hosted me, managed to squeeze me in their planning and put so much effort in their event.
Did you end up going to any SU just for fun? That means, not as a representative of the SUCT but as participant?
I did not have enough vacation to go as participant, so I did not even think about at which one I could apply for.
As in the last two years, I was part of the research and statistics team. But other than last year, I did not have time to join the Concept Development Meeting, so my work was mostly to scan through the lists of events and to look for anything particularly interesting or fitting the themes of the K2E.
What are your plans for the Agora? Are you coming and what are your goals for it?
I will be there, and if there happen to be any discussions where I can participate, I will.
How is the SUCT in general feeling about this year’s SU season? Satisfied?
For all of us except Costas Deltouzos, it was the first time that we got this much insight into the project. We tried some new things like the SU maps, which I think, on average, were received positively, the thematic sessions, and the learning objectives, for which we have to wait for the evaluation. We also got the highest number of applicants in the last few years, so I think all in all we can be satisfied with the SU season.
For the last year, the work with SUCT consumed most of my AEGEE work time and sadly I could not go to more events than the two Agorae. I do not have any position in my Antenna in Berlin, but we are a small local and if there’s anything to do, I help and participate as much as possible.
Planning to stay in SUCT next year as well or some other big plans ahead?
At several points in the last year, I was thinking about running for a second term, but my PhD study will only get more demanding during the next two years and I would like to focus on that.
Written by Olga Volovyk, AEGEE-Kyiv