AEGEE-Oviedo gets ready for an unforgettable Agora in Asturias

The applications for Spring AgorAsturias 2015 have just been opened! In the meantime, AEGEE-Oviedo is still working very hard to make this an unforgettable Agora – according to the local organisers, they have capacities for 1,200 participants! Here is what Alberto Cuesta Noriega, main organiser of the Agora, and Gerardo García Díaz, president of AEGEE-Oviedo, told The AEGEEan on behalf of the antenna located in the land of ‘cachopo’, cider and King Pelayo (the lucky ones coming to the Agora will definitely discover who we are talking about!).

The AEGEEan: The Agora is less than two months away – How are the preparations going?

Alberto and Gerardo: Right now we are focused especially on the field of fundraising, since the venues are already confirmed. The Parties Team is closing the thematics of the nights and we are trying to add some typical food for participants balancing cost and quality. Also, we are polishing the Opening Ceremony with a mix of traditional and modern performances.

The main square of Gijón’s Laboral University.

AgorAsturias will be located in the city of Gijón. What can you tell us about the locations of the Agora?

Maybe the most “amazing” fact about it is that the plenaries and prytania will be held in the Laboral University of Gijón, which is the largest building in Spain. But not only this… the building of the church of the University, where we will have the Opening Dinner, is the largest elliptical dome in the world. Regarding the accommodation, participants will sleep in the Sports Palace of Gijón. Is not the largest palace in anywhere, but we can say that the number of showers that participants will have available is by far the highest seen lately on statutory events… being accommodation, toilets and showers all in the same building.

How many participants would you be able to host?

We have venues that can gather a massive 1200 participants number, so do not be afraid to apply!

How can participants get to the city? Is there the possibility of having any discounts?

The main way to reach Asturias is via Madrid or Barcelona by plane and then travelling to Asturias by another flight, bus or train, though there are other connections to Santander, Bilbao and even Asturias airport.

Regarding discounts, the main bus (ALSA) and railway (Renfe) operators in Spain already gave discounts for us, and we are expecting the main airline company (Iberia) to join the discount fest. Also, pre-events such as the AEGEE-Barcelona, with the possibility of going to the Agora with them.

Aside from that, booking tickets with time, participants would be able to get also the regular discounts from the bus company (Madrid-Gijón-Madrid as cheap as 10€, though there are even direct buses from Madrid-Barajas Airport to Gijón and way back) or train (especially the “table” one, that allows four people to share a table in the train for a really cheap price in comparison to individual tickets and that European Planning Meeting fellow organisers are already advertising).

What do you think of the European Planning Meeting (EPM) and Agora being so close in dates? Do you see it as a big inconvenience?

The main issue in here is that participants, especially the ones living far away, are “forced” to choose between the events, since is not suitable for them to travel to Spain twice in two months.

But in our opinion it is not the time in the end, but the fact that Burgos and Gijón are quite close (208 km in straight line, 326 by road) so then it is reasonable for foreigners to think “I am not going two times to northern Spain (or even just to Spain) in the same year” even though the cities (and regions) have nothing to do with eachother in comparison.

Neither Burgos nor Gijón are places where the “paella, flamenco and sun” cliché is true, but even in that common fact, they are way different. For instance, Asturias is Celtic land (there are bagpipers, mythology and cider) while Burgos is the “head of Castille” and has its very own traditions unrelated with Asturian ones. Both places are worth a visit, so it is a pity in the end.

Tell us a bit about the team – how many members are in the core team of the Agora? We have heard that there are also non AEGEE-Oviedo members in there.

We have 15 members in the core team, all of them from AEGEE-Oviedo except for Alberto Arroyo (from Madrid) and Sora Chung (from Alicante). We even have one honorary member (Juan Sordo) and a nice balance between oldies and freshmen.

Moreover, the open call for helpers was closed a few weeks ago. Has the “Nave” region responded positively to it? How was the “encerrona” (ed. teambuilding event for organisers and helpers) you had last weekend?

The work performed by Olga Fernández and Alberto Arroyo, the HR coordinators, has been outstanding. We reached 71 applications and it was hard to reject some of them, but the team looks nice (we have newbies and people that already organised two Agorae) and after the first “Encerrona” we saw that there are nice synergies and the teambuilding went well.

The full team, counting AEGEE-Oviedo members and external organisers and helpers is made of 69 people, including three helpers from Kyiv.

Can you tell us something about the social program of the Agora, any surprises…?

The social programme is lead by Santiago Martínez, our Vice-president, and he has been carefully selecting the best venues in town for the social programme. From the previously quoted largest elliptical dome in the world for the opening dinner to the Casino of Asturias Club and some of the best clubs in town. Also, we are preparing sports and activities for those who do not want to go partying every night – a chill out café in the accommodation and several amusements in the Sports Palace to allow everybody to have fun no matter the time they want to go to sleep.

What would you consider most special about the Asturias region?

As we said before, Asturias is such a unique region in Spain. We could start by the fact that the northern coast of Spain has few things to do with the rest of the country in terms of landscapes and traditions, but inside of that “special features”, Asturias has some gems.

Some say an image is worth a thousand words, so instead of typing we encourage our readers to see this Asturias promo video. Asturias is a so called “Natural Paradise”, so we hope with that video you will understand better why.

Last but not least, can we ask for a few spoilers about the menu? Will participants be lucky to taste the delicious “cachopo” and “sidra”?

We are still polishing it, but expect the opening dinner to be more like an opening “espicha” (the asturian traditional social meal where you eat tapas and drink sidra standing up and taking small things from the big dishes in the table). This means there will be sidra and we are trying to get jamón and asturian cheese for participants. Regarding the cachopo, we will try our best, but cachopo is a dish that requires time and dedication for preparing, so we are not really sure if we can make it for 800 people. We would like to offer our participants the best or nothing, so if we cannot assure quality cachopos for all them, we will try to find an alternative dish.

Written by Anna Gumbau, AEGEE-Barcelona

Remember that you can apply to AgorAsturias through the Intranet – the deadline is February 16th!