AEGEE-Kyïv organised the last Agora, their second one after Autumn Agora 2009, which was a great success, according to the participants who nominated them as Local of the Month for the very first Agora Edition. Anna “Smailikova” Pykhtina (the Main Coordinator), Anastasiia “Nastia” Dzhulai (the Treasurer) and Yevgeniya “Zhenya” Gagarkina (the PR Responsible) are sharing with us their most beloved moments from the Agora.
The AEGEEan: Congratulations! How do you feel about becoming the Local of the Month?
Anna: Excited and grateful! We believe that an event is organised on a high level when you receive recognition. Being the Local of the Month proves our efforts one more time.
- Can you tell us briefly the history of AEGEE-Kyïv?
It was founded 20 years ago, at the time when visa was a really simple thing to get in Ukraine. Here are some memories of the first President of our local, Dmytro Vityk: “In the mid 90’s, Ukrainian students visiting Europe were very rare. The world was just opening up for us. Despite being so close, nobody in Europe even knew anything about Ukraine. We used a Soviet passport – red ones, with the national emblem of USSR. Our scholarships were scarce: for example, I remember how I spent a month of it on a glass of beer in Germany. We were coming to AEGEE meetings hitchhiking, becoming lost in Europe immediately after crossing the border (of course no GPS, and no cell phones were available). We were opening up the world, and the world was opening up to Ukraine. Everything was new, undiscovered. I learned about AEGEE from the local in Lviv – they were ahead and close to the border. I joined the organisation because it gave opportunities to travel, new impressions, contacts and knowledge. I become President because – if not me, then who? I initiated everything in Kyïv at that time”. The second President, Hanna Glos shares her memories too: “One year we organised the first Travelling Summer University. There were three antennae: Kyïv, Lviv and Mykolaiv. We began in Lviv. There have been 7-8 participants. Because of stereotypes, it was hard to invite people to Ukraine, only the bravest visited us. We visited Crimea also. The next event was a case-study – an important event, we were in Chernobyl where we discussed important topics, and slowly things become better. We had an office in Kyïv-Mohyla Academy and one day we invited all volunteering organisations which we could find and gathered them. We wanted to establish contact with those who were not indifferent to the active life and youth.”
And after that, AEGEE-Kyïv started to grow and having it’s ups and downs, organised more than 200 events, two Agorae, more than ten Summer Universities and we are still counting.
Which or who were the main assets for the success of the event?
The team and luck.
We had organisers coming from 22 cities, more than 10 countries and it was an extraordinary Agora. And also we were lucky with the weather, as usually it is much colder on 14th of October, with the start of the heating season, with having hot water, everything that did not depend on us worked out well.
Why did you decide to organise the Agora? Did everything go as expected?
AEGEE-Kyïv is a unique local with extremely active members. Having the experience of organising Agora in 2009, and the friendly relationship between the generations of active AEGEEans made applying just a question of time. It was discussed at many parties, meetings and there were many jokes about it, until Anna applied and didn’t say anything to the members until the result was announced at Autumn Agora Cagliari 2014.
Tell us about your best memory from the Agora.
Anna: All the Agora is one huge memory, that was one of the best in my life. So much preparation and only four days of real event – realising it was a happy and a sad feeling at the same time. My best memory is connected with the people – I loved our evening meetings with organisers, taking place at 21.30 in our secret room. Everyone was tired, exhausted, wearing grey hoodies and trying not to fall asleep. But after those meetings, discussing the ups and downs of the day, talking about how to fix some issues and planning the next one, I was so inspired and felt so much love, because of the team that all the tiredness was gone. I knew that whatever happened with these superheroes, we were going to be fine.
Nastia: I think I had three main points which became the best moments of the process of Agora Kyïv. 1- Agora Cagliari – when our small team was on the stage smiling and shouting – “We’re hosting the Agora!”. That was an incredible moment when fear and happiness were mixed in one feeling. 2 – Survival Camp- event for organisers outside the city. It was awesome! We were staying together and enjoying the light, warm summer atmosphere with the closest people for two days. That moment I really understood that the Agora will succeed. 3 – Awkward party during the Agora. I saw happy faces from the stage, the participants were super excited and amazed by that party and I was really glad to see them like that – young and awkward, beautiful and crazy.
Zhenya: First of all – more than 850 applications! It is really an important achievement. Then the challenges to get more likes for our Facebook page, we got really crazy in our commitment, in a fun way of course, then the moment when we finally got all the printed materials. Also I really liked the short and bright opening ceremony. The moment when it started with the video from Asturias was very touching for me as it reminded me about all the work done by #brilliantPRteam [she laughs, ed.] and opening fancy party was my favourite as well. Last but not least is the closing ceremony with me elected as SUCT member, Anna’s speech and the awesome official aftermovie. To sum it up – I liked literally everything.
What would you recommend to other antennas which are interested in organising an Agora?
Dare to do it! In case you have a group of 7-10 motivated members ready to stand till the end, you are able to organize even the Olimpic games. We did not have sponsors and support from the university when we applied, neither did we know about the future situation in Ukraine, but we were believed in and the idea of more than 500 Europeans coming to Kyïv was so inspiring that we did everything we could and even more.
Which are AEGEE- Kyïv future plans, local or European?
We are organising a Winter Event with AEGEE-Moskva once again. It was a very successful event last year, both for participants and organisers, breaking a lot of stereotypes and strengthening relations between our locals. And in this time we believe that it’s really important to do it again and continue the tradition of celebrating New Year 13 times (12 according to Russian time, 1 Ukrainian time) and traditional Orthodox Christmas in Kyïv.
We are also excited about our plans with our beloved twin local, AEGEE-Dresden, as we are inviting them to Kyïv and planning to see each other in Europe. A Summer University is also in our plans and who knows how else we are going to surprise you?
How would you describe your antenna in one sentence?
Written by Gabriela Cioata, AEGEE-București