Although the Comité Directeur Head Office is situated in Belgium, Brussels to be precise, until recently the country had only two AEGEE antenna, namely AEGEE-Brussel/Bruxelles and AEGEE-Leuven. On the 28th of November this changed, when a new contact in Louvain-la-Neuve was announced. The AEGEEan spoke to Nada Lakkis to find out more about this new Belgian contact.
Before we start talking about the contact and its future, first it is time to look at the history of the city of the newest Belgian contact. It all started in Leuven, where the Catholic University at first only provided lectures in French, one of Belgium’s official languages, but started to provide lectures in Dutch, the other official language of Belgium and the language spoken in Leuven in 1930. In 1962 the French and Dutch sections of the university became autonomous, but Flemish nationalists demanded a division of the university and expressed their resentment at privileges given to French-speaking academic. In June 1968 this dispute was solved by turning the Dutch section of the university into the independent Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, while the French section was moved to the French-speaking part of the province, where a campus called Louvain-la-Neuve was founded for the Université Catholique de Louvain. The city was later build around this campus, although the university still owns the site.
Seeing that Louvain-la-Neuve is completely built around the university, it would come as no surprise that it is full of students and therefore a good place for future AEGEE members to get in contact with AEGEE-Europe. Nada Lakkis was one of them. She found out about AEGEE through her friend Lana Tomic. “She told me about all the experiences she had the opportunity to go through with AEGEE and this made me want to join the adventure. I lately found myself passionate by the kind of European dream we have the chance to experience here, during our university time, with the mobility programs and other EU-linked cultural opportunities. This interest made me want to get involved in a student union or project related to Europe, but this is when I discovered that such initiative was sadly lacking in the, however very international, student town of Louvain-la-Neuve.”
Nada turned to AEGEE-Brussel/Bruxelles, who answered her and the idea for the founding of a new contact in Louvain-la-Neuve quickly rose. “After discussing it with enthusiastic AEGEE-Brussel/Bruxelles and Comité Directeur members, I was glad to find support for the plan, which I immediately implemented by finding a motivated team of students”, said Nada. Right now, the core of this team is made up of eight active members, but the complete group consists of fourteen members. Although still a small group, they already have some plans for the upcoming year! “We would like to start with the organization of conferences in the university, in collaboration with other institutions here, as we think this is also a great way to make the association better known among students”, Nada states. Next to these conferences, the group wants to organize cultural activities and a visit to the European Parliament.
However, the plans aren’t limited to activities only. “We are definitely going to use social media, as this is probably the most powerful tool for any kind of promotion nowadays.” The new contact already has some great plans, and luckily also a lot of support from AEGEE-Brussel/Bruxelles. “I think their enthusiasm and sympathy has somehow been a catalyst for the initiative and now that the contact is created, they’re still willing to assist us. I sincerely appreciate it, and I’m looking forward to meeting new locals too.”
Written by Svenja van der Tol, AEGEE-Nijmegen