The ZarAgora ended some time ago but the memories of the fantastic event organized by AEGEE-Zaragoza remain with the participants that now have returned to their respective cities. There is no doubt that, despite being a peaceful Agora and a little bit flat on content for many people, many will remember ZarAgora for the great organization by AEGEE-Zaragoza and their helpers.
Wednesday October 30th, 2013: AEGEE members gathered outside of the Congress Palace of Zaragoza (Palacio de Congresos) eager to get in and register their participation for the Autumn Agora 2013. A beautiful building where participants had it all in one place: delicious meals, the magnificient plenary hall, workshop rooms and the gym to sleep. As explained in a previous interview with the Fundraising (FR) responsible of the Agora, Ángela Campos, this particular place was the one where AEGEE-Zaragoza wanted to organize the Agora from the beginning and it is easy to understand why. Located next to the Ebro river, in the beautiful area that was constructed for the world Expo that took place in Zaragoza in 2008 and close to the center of the city, this palace made sure that participants had everything close. It was easy to arrive from the bus/train station, there was no need to wake up early in the morning to catch a bus to the place of the pleanaries and it is certain that participants enjoyed this gift of some extra sleep comparing it previous Agorae.
As all statutory events, the Agora kicked off with a marvellous opening ceremony hosted by AEGEE-Zaragoza members Sara Alcolea and Pablo Ruiz, where the participants got to see the beauties of the city they had arrived to in a video. There were also several people that had messages for the participants of ZarAgora. To name a few, the AEGEE members present received a message from the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, both in a video as well as in a message given by the Liaison Officers towards the UN.
The President of AEGEE-Europe, Luis Alvarado Martínez. also opened the Agora in a speech where he emphasized the importance of the European youth and how the future has to be affected through raising our voices and striving to be heard and have an impact at the same time! To entertain the participants there was also a musical show as well as a performance by the folklore dancers of Orgullo Aragonés that brought smiles on many people’s lips; especially when serenading the speaker of Network Commission, Antonija Parat.
With the hot topic of the new Visual Identity and branding of AEGEE, which the Comité Directeur and Network Commission are especially focusing on these days, it was fantastic to see how much effort this antenna of “the center of Europe in the middle of nowhere” (as they say) had put into making the Agora a beauty for the eyes as well. Both AEGEE-Europe and AEGEE-Zaragoza had made a big effort in designing for the Agora. From day one, a large part of the participants were proudly showing the new blue AEGEE-Europe sweater and the organizers and helpers were to be seen everywhere at all times in their ZarAgora red t-shirts and hoodies.
Participants also had the opportunity to bring back a piece of AEGEE-Zaragoza merchandise in form of different merchandising that always have received great attention because of its design and quality and that could bought at the Agora as well. Five lucky AEGEEans also won a limited edition of the famous “I love Jamón” t-shirt that won The AEGEEan‘s Choice Awards for best merchandising in 2012. It was a great idea by AEGEE-Zaragoza to gather some money to help reduce the cost of organizing the big event through selling lottery tickets and give away prizes at the closing ceremony. It is definitely worth to mention as well the creation of a small cup “of AEGEE spirit(s)”, thanks to which the participants helped AEGEE-Zaragoza make the Agora more environmentally-friendly as they then avoided using thousands of plastic cups. Jonathan del Castillo Gil from AEGEE-Zaragoza took many hours in designing different items for the Agora, and there are for sure many grateful members for his dedication.
Organizing an Agora in the middle of an economic crisis must most certainly be a challenge but AEGEE-Zaragoza overcame the challenge splendidly. With a welcome package full of different treats and with the opportunity to enjoy some of the 522 kg of chocolate sponsored by Lindt or energy drinks from Red Bull, AEGEE-Zaragoza also tried to ensure that the participants got the sugar boost necessary to enjoy all the different activities part of the program. Moreover, whenever there were some gaps in the packed program, many participants enjoyed a relaxing time in the spa nearby the Agora where large discounts had been negotiated again thanks to the great fundraising of AEGEE-Zaragoza. Some especially chose this option rather than waiting in line for the rather cold-watered showers. However, not everything can be perfect and providing showers for 800 people is definitely not an easy task.
In terms of the Agora itself, it was more quiet than other statutory events in the past. Less questions were asked and this became a topic at the European Level meeting where active AEGEEans wondered about this issue. The dancing remained part of the rich social program and did not draw the attention before the plenaries as the case was for example in Agora Rhein-Neckar. The amount of energizers was also reduced, but nevertheless there were smiles to be seen everywhere at all times. It was a more professional Agora, where punishments for flag and mascot recovery were left to be organized between participants and thereby protecting the image of our association.
This Agora proved that with a strong team of about 70 organizers and helpers led by Chema Rueda (AEGEE-Zaragoza) and with hard work and dedication it is possible to organize a fantastic event and AEGEE-Zaragoza can be proud of having organized an event that members will talk about for many years. As this video says: ZarAgora in our hearts!
Written by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-København
Thank you very much Jorge Sánchez Hernández (AEGEE-Alicante) and Jorge Barriendo (AEGEE-Zaragoza) for the pictures!