We already gave you some tips on how to be a good visitor, but how should you be a good delegate (according to us)? The Agora is a magnificent creature, but it is also very complicated to follow every single thing that happens, especially if you are a newbie. But also experienced members has some troubles from time to time. It can be long, it can be boring, but it is also an engaging opportunity to share your knowledge and to learn new things.
Prepare yourself before the Agora. JC, CD, CT, AR, KT, SP, AA, FR, FP, MedCom, NetCom… Should we continue? Those are just some of the acronyms we use and you will hear them a lot. But also proposals, CIA, candidates… The content of an Agora can be overwhelming. Especially if there isn’t a proper preparation beforehand. Two weeks before the Agora, the Secretary General sends out booklets in which you can find all sort of information you might need. The Chair Team is also sending delegates a quiz, which you can take to test your knowledge, or an Agora for Dummies booklet. You should also organise an Agora preparation with your local, where you can study the items on the agenda and share your thoughts on what will be discussed and what will be voted.
Plenaries, prytannia and attendance. Delegates represent a local during the Agora and they are required to be present at plenaries and prytannia. If you ask, ‘what are those’, you either are at your first Agora or you never attended either of them. Plenaries are the moments when all the members of the Agora gather together, for instance, the opening plenary, the candidatures, the ratification of projects and other. Prytannia are smaller gatherings, normally used to discuss proposals or papers, which will be voted on. Delegates should be there all the time because in those moments, we discuss the present abd future of our organisation. And because your time will be counted as participation during the Agora. Be careful to scan your badge every morning before entering the plenary and state your local at the beginning of each prytanium. But most of all, make sure to be there because you want to, not because you have to.
Ask questions (to oldies). If you are at your first Agora or if you are the sole delegate of your local, and you don’t understand something, just look around and approach some more experienced members. Normally you can recognize them, because they speak a language you don’t understand or they clearly declare to have attended 10+ Agorae. They will be more than willing to listen to all your questions and to explain to you all the procedures that are obscure to you. Don’t be afraid if you don’t know them! We are AEGEEans, we simply talk to everyone.
Ask questions (on stage). If you have some doubts, another thing that can actually be very handy for you is to ask your questions straight at the source. If you like numbers and there are some figures that don’t match, or if you read a candidature and you are not entirely sure on how that thing will be implemented, take the chance to go on stage and ask a question (or more). Maybe your doubts are shared by other delegates and the discussion can be benefit by everyone. And if you are telling yourself “My English is not the best”, don’t worry! A native English speaker in AEGEE is very rare and we, generally, all speak European English, with different accents and vocabulary. As long as you can make a sentence with a subject, a verb and an object, everybody will be able to understand you.
Don’t sleep. Lack of sleep is the most common disease during the Agora and it is physiological. We sleep around three hours per night and our brains are constantly bombarded with new information in a language that is not our mother tongue. That’s why we often enable the automatic pilot and fall in the sweet arms of Morpheus. The truth is that it is not pleasant to present something you worked towards for months in front of hundreds of “sleeping beauties”. Therefore you can drink zillion of liters of coffee, energy drinks or be a rebel: skip some parties. You will find yourself rested and ready to rock.
Vote properly. Delegates have the honour to vote and give direction to the Network. Delegates should represent the will of their locals, but also they should have the future of the organisation in mind. When voting for candidates, you should focus less on the appearance, and rather on their experience and their program. When voting for a proposal, try to understand whether the entire Network can benefit from its outcome. Voting is harder than it seems, because it is not enough to just fill in a ballot or to click on ‘in favour’. Follow your conscience.
Written by Erika Bettin, AEGEE-Verona