Local of the Month AEGEE-Aachen: “We Really Are a Group of Friends”

Surely all of you have already encountered the famous mascot of AEGEE-Aachen somewhere in Europe. Now, the German local became the Local of the Month. The AEGEEan talked to two of AEGEE-Aachen’s new board members, Leonie Riebesam and Malte Berrenberg, about the antenna, their recipe for success and their potential plans for an Agora application.

7With around 120 members, of which about 50 are active, and also a lot of secondary members all over Europe, AEGEE-Aachen is quite a big and also very active antenna. In the city of Aachen, one of Germany’s most western cities, the local is mostly known to us for their awesome Erasmus parties and the Erasmus tutoring programme. Throughout the AEGEE-Network, the Aacheners are famous for their active participation at the local as well as European level, their sense of humour, and their mascot, the AEGEE-Aachen polar bear.

“Some people might think we have a good ‘sense of humour’ because we wear polar bear costumes. Maybe this is a good opportunity to set things straight here. We are not dressing up as polar bears, we ARE polar bears”, Malte lets us know. Aacheners seem to take things quite seriously when it comes to their mascot. Besides the fact that the AEGEE-Aachen bear is “super cool”, Malte answers, it is the members themselves and the amazing spirit within their local that makes AEGEE-Aachen special. “We really are a group of friends. Even though we can have really strong discussions and different opinions, we can always sit down, drink a beer and laugh together”, Malte states. “Our members are just super open and welcoming”.
1And that seems to be quite appealing since the number of members that AEGEE-Aachen attracts is rather high for a German antenna. But also at the European level, the name of the city is famous. There are many secondary members all across the Network and many members working at the European level: the Summer University Coordination Team (SUCT), the Network Commission (NetCom), the Mediation Commission (MedCom), and the CD are infiltrated by Aacheners right now. And two of those members that are currently taking part in some of those groups, namely Damien Latacz from MedCom and Philipp Blum from SUCT, even became Members of the Month in 2015. “Their enthusiasm and motivation to change things for the better and actually do something can really rub off on others”, Leonie tells us. “But we have many more active members that we are very proud of!”

2Leonie and Malte themselves are quite active; they have just both been re-elected into their local board. In their opinion, the board members are a good mixture of people with board experience, with experience from other student associations, and new members. All of them are very motivated to spread the AEGEE spirit and Leonie is sure that “a great year lies ahead of us”.

For example, they want to repeat the last year’s awesome SU. Aachen’s Summer University has a long tradition, offering a German-course almost every year, often ranking quite high and therefore, proving that a language course is actually very satisfying for the participants. Moreover, they will have a Christmas party and they will organise a European Day of Languages event and a Local Training Course (LTC). Also, their constitutional drink and their birthday are coming up. “Most importantly we want to have more events with refugees”, Malte says. Already more than once they arranged meetings between refugees and AEGEE-members and still go on planning to keep this up.
One last idea might make the upcoming year especially interesting: Might AEGEE-Aachen apply for Spring Agora 2017? “We are thinking about it, yes. But before we apply, we want to make sure we are able to provide the best possible logistics for everyone”, Leonie reveals. “At the moment we are mainly doing research on possibilities, knowledge transfer with the team of Agora 2008, and preparing the concept”. The Network will have to wait patiently and the AEGEEans will need to cross their fingers for this idea to become reality.

Until then, the antenna will continue with its local work. The three working groups (WGs) will go on organising debates, members’ weekends, LTCs and at the moment, even an event for refugees to show them some German Christmas traditions (Human Resources WG), they will go on managing their tutoring programme and interesting events for incoming Erasmus students (Erasmus WG) and last but not least, they will also design awesome stickers and other PR material (Public Relations WG).
If you want to visit Aachen, do it! Right now, they are trying to set up a hosting database, but “as long as it is still in work, you can just send us an e-mail if you are coming to Aachen, and we will try to arrange something”, Leonie concludes. They are looking forward to it.

Written by Katja Sontag, AEGEE-Aachen