The Charlemagne Youth Prize is a honorable prize that is awarded each year to youth projects in Europe for their added value to society. AEGEE is not a stranger to the prize, having been awarded several times before, for example for Europe on Track in 2013. AEGEE-Valletta won the national edition of the Charlemagne Youth Prize for their European Planning Meeting (EPM) the following year.AEGEE-Sofia presented the Night of Seven Antennae (N7A) this year and won the first step, the national one. We asked some questions to Ivaylo Bogomilov, the main organiser of the N7A in Sofia.
Ivaylo: If I may tell you the truth, it was great stress till the last moment. Everything that you are expecting is really bad, you have this feeling of impatience, but this time it was even worse, because it was not just AEGEE-Sofia’s project, there were six more locals involved – Aachen, Bergamo, Catania, Eskişehir, Kyïv and Leiden. So after a long time of waiting (at least for us), on a Monday, AEGEE-Sofia got the email that we were the winners. It was really great! I was in Catania and I got the information first, so I called everyone to tell them that we won. It was really amazing, I cannot describe it with words. Maybe one of the best moments was when Kristalina Georgieva (Vice-President of the European Commission and the European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources ) shared the news of winning the National Prize and said that she was proud that in Europe and in Bulgaria there are such youth organisations as AEGEE.
Describe the Night of Seven Antennae, the project you submitted.
The “Night of the Seven Antennae” project was a live streamed conference on the 18th of April 2015 that connected seven simultaneous events happening in seven different parts within and outside the European Union, providing the participants of the event with a five-hour-long live steam, where they could discuss and share relevant findings of their respective three-day conferences focusing on the topic: Europe in me – me in Europe.
The topic of the event in Sofia was “Europe needs youth!”. For three days, Sofia became the place where young people had the opportunity to explore their daily life habits and contributions to society. The event gathered a lot of Bulgarian youth organisations, young people from all around Europe, informal and youth groups, which had the chance to talk about the world, in which they live and of which they dream, and to share for which kind of Europe they would fight for. The event gave an opportunity for discussions with decision-makers, stakeholders, with leaders in youth and the NGOs sector. The event not only shows structured dialogue in practice, but also shows the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.
For sure the N7A was an amazing event. As a main organiser from AEGEE-Sofia, I know how much effort all locals put in to realise the event. So, there were a lot of amazing moments; it will be really hard to mention just one. The most memorable moment for me was 10 minutes before the live stream, we had to do tests for sound and camera and everything – I remembered how my heart was beating. However, the worst was that our participants were still not at the place where the live stream would take place, because they were running late from the sports tournament. But three minutes before the live stream, everyone was there, so in the end everything went well. [He smiles, ed.]
Still the impact of the event was really great, so I hope that we will not stop expanding on its success. In the Europe, that we are living in now, we need more events like The Night of Seven Antennae, just to remember what Europe is all about.
When will be the final selection? Is someone going to Aachen?
It will be from 2nd till 5th of May and there will be a whole three-day-program in Aachen. I heard that on the last night the party will be organised by AEGEE-Aachen, because they are the best at this. The awarding ceremony will be on the 3rd of May, so be prepared to cross your fingers.
It is really a pity, but only one person can go as the official, representing Bulgaria. But I know that a lot of AEGEE people from all over Europe will come for the award ceremony.
What are the new projects of AEGEE-Sofia?
We have a lot of plans for new projects. For now we know that we will have an amazing Travel Summer University (Bulgaria: Lost in Time and Space), also two Local Training Courses and we will again organise our local forum, “The Egg”. If you still did not hear about it, last year we won the award for best youth project in Bulgarian, given by the Ministry of Education and science. As for the other projects, we will keep them secret, at least for now [he winks, ed.].
Written by Erika Bettin, AEGEE-Verona