What do you do, if you don’t have many fancy monuments in your city? What do you do, if you don’t have many participants for your event? Do you try to cram your Summer University with parties and cheap liquor, or will you be like AEGEE-Samara? Capitalise on the beautiful environment surrounding your city, heavily invest on interpersonal connections with your participants, and add some things from the Action Agenda, just because you can. Polina Chernova, President of AEGEE-Samara, tells us more:
The AEGEEan: Could you tell us something about the programme of your latest Summer University?
Polina: Our programme was focused on the travelling and sports activities. We tried to combine cultural and sportive events wisely. Our programme were very intense, so in the end the participants told us that they hadn’t had enough free time. On the other hand, I attended a SU, in which participants had too much free time, and that is not very good either. I think, it is a question with no answer – how much free time to give to your participants.
Have you organised SUs like these in the past?
Yes, very similar to it. But, I think, earlier we focused more on the parties and cultural events like festivals, less on the educational and sportive part and the Action Agenda.
Your SU was promoted with a particular emphasis on nature; participants even camped in tents. Why did you choose to emphasise nature?
We emphasised nature, because it is one of the most beautiful parts of our region. We do not have many cultural sights, so we compensate it by doing outdoor activities. Also, the sportive part of our programme was connected to nature.
We’ve heard that you used an impressive PR campaign for your SU. Could you elaborate on this?
Oh, thank you, it’s very pleasant to hear! But, actually, I don’t think it was really helpful. As a sociologist, I made a quick survey closer to the end of our SU and I found out that our participants chose our SU not because of the PR campaign. We used many ways of PR: emails, post exchange, video, FB-group posts. But the participants’ choice was based mostly on their personal acquaintanceship and information on the official SU page, partly out of interest towards the most eastern antenna and Russian language. And only then they peeked at the FB-group. Our Vice President, who has been leading our PR campaign, worked very hard on it, but was disappointed by results.
Do you already have plans for next year’s SU?
No, we don’t. I’m not planning to be in Samara next year, so I’ll leave the new adventures to new people.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask, but that you would like to include into the article?
Yes, one interesting thing: the fewer participants, the stronger connection between them. Sure, it’s really fun to have a bunch of people around you, but it’s also a superficial experience. Connections are stronger in small groups. So if your SU doesn’t have many participants, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be boring, trust me. It’ll be more family-like.
Written by Willem Laurentzen, AEGEE-Nijmegen