Last time The AEGEEan spoke about the Europe on Track (EoT) project was in October, when the open call for the project manager was issued. Réka Salamon (AEGEE-Aachen/AEGEE-Debrecen) was choosen for the second time to be the coordinator of the project, together with Rocío Leza (AEGEE-Brussel/Bruxelles) and Turgut Tosun (AEGEE-Ankara). Last year the project won the European Charlemagne Youth Prize, so the AEGEEan was interested to learn more about the second edition starting this April.
Europe on track was the most successful project of AEGEE-Europe in 2012. Six young ambassadors travelled around the European continent by train: from Belgium to Spain, Italy and the Balkans. The ambassadors were divided in two teams, each of them following their own route. There were three topics on which the ambassadors interviewed the young people they met: youth participation, sustainability and enterpreneurship.
Last October Réka Salamon was chosen for the second time to be the project manager. “EoT is probably one of the greatest achievement of my life. It is like my baby, I hope I don’t sound too emotional.” – she said. “I saw all the potential and the success it achieved, but I also saw all the flaws, so I will do my best to correct them in this edition with the rest of the Coordination Team.”
Topics of EoT 2014
This year the topics are going to be very different. “While choosing the main topics of this year’s edition, we wanted to take into account not only general youth issues, but also current events so one of the main topics is going to be ‘Mobility’.” – explains Réka. “We believe the newly ratified ‘Erasmus+’ program is going to have a great impact on youth for the upcoming years, so with the coordinators and Comité Directeur (CD) we decided this would be one of the topics. We also want to focus on the active involvement of young people in the decision-making processes on a higher level and help the Y-Vote project to spread the word about the European Parliamentary Elections. Thus we decided to choose this as the second main topic of the project.”
Next to these topics the ambassadors will also touch upon other topics on which AEGEE will be working according to the new Strategic Plan, like ‘youth mobility, youth employment, civic education and even EU neighborhood policy’.
EoT Route 2014
These are not the only changes in the program. Of course the routes won’t be the same, even if a lot of locals who hosted the project last time applied again. The responses and the final route showed that the Network is interested in the project and wants to participate.
Germany, Italy and Greece were the three countries with most applications from locals. With three applications from Greece, the plan is to bring one of the team straight to Spring Agora Patra, and because Greece is starting its semester of Presidency of European Council, ending in Patra will be even more meaningful. This year the plan is to send a team of ambassadors to Riga and to Kyiv as well, due to the great interest from the locals and to the possible impact an EoTconference can have in these cities.
However, there were also surprises as well, Réka tells us: “We didn’t receive any application from France”. The teams still need to cross it though, since there are stops planned in Spain.
The biggest Challenge
When asked about the biggest challenge of the previous EoT she replied: “The most pressing issue last edition was time. There wasn’t much time available to plan and implement the idea we had for the project. In this edition it is definitely an advantage that we had almost half a year to plan and arrange everything. Also the locals won’t have the pressure to organize someting on a very short notice.”
Apart from the timing, the last time, the project lacked external financial support to cover the costs of ambassadors for taking nighttrains and making reservations. This year the CD and the Coordination Team found a solution. “Last time we had the InterRail passes and we relied upon the network” (for food and accommodation ed.) Réka explains. “This time we have applied to the Open Society Foundation for grants. Now we can also financially support the locals and travellers for the costs of their accommodation.”
Selection of Ambassadors
A thing that raised some controversy last time was the fact that there was an opportunity for non-AEGEEans to participate in the project. Réka explains the reasons for this decision as follows: “in AEGEE we tend to live in our own ‘bubble’, seeing things from one certain perspective. These people can bring a fresh new insight and a different kind of approach to the project and the discussions.”
“But because after all, the ambassadors who, at the time, were not members of any local eventually joined AEGEE, the Coordinators and CD decided to again open the applications for non-AEGEEans in this year’s edition.” (However the downside is that you know less about these participants and it has been proven difficult to check the skills and experience they put forward in their application, Ed.). You can meet the ambassadors of the project in the following link.
Réka Salamon is known to be involved in many projects and committees and she’s never hid her plans to run for the Comité Directeur during Spring Agora Patra. Being so involved in AEGEE and at the same time preparing her candidature could be difficult but Réka is sure she can manage. “I have learned how to manage my time effectively and even if April is going to be the most intense month for the project, I believe that if everything is going to be ready on time, I don’t see any obstacles in the way of my candidature for President of AEGEE-Europe.”
Written by Erika Bettin, AEGEE-Venezia