From the biggest student festival an AEGEE local has organised to redrawing the structure of AEGEE: reasons why AEGEE-Toulouse is the odd one out, but in the best possible way!
I was excited to go to Toulouse not only because of the Erasmus Student Festival I have heard about previously, but also because in the AEGEE context, we know that the French-speaking part of the network has been going through difficult times. There are great people in Lille, Paris, Lyon and Toulouse, but how can we really anchor the work of our organisation for the long-term when the French student society already accommodates so many other organisations?
We can start focusing on fewer things from the “everything” that AEGEE tends to do, and anchor ourselves with impressive results our work can bring. And this is exactly what AEGEE-Toulouse has been doing recently. The antenna has been on the rise for the last two years especially, and they even openly talked about how being downgraded to a contact antenna in Agora Kyїv has actually given them the chance to grow: with less criteria to follow, they could focus on building themselves stronger.
The spirit of AEGEE-Toulouse is definitely coming from the unofficial headquarters of Karim and Khaled, where members meetings, board meetings and all the “crazy ideas brainstorming” is a frequent thing. We always needed that element of crazyness in AEGEE, haven’t we? An idea like the Erasmus Student Festival that was born two years ago, collecting 2000 local and Erasmus students in an open air festival. 2016 counted close to 6000 participants and in 2017, AEGEE-Toulouse with the support of the city hall is getting ready for 10.000 people, setting up the festival to be the biggest celebration event of 30 years of Erasmus.
You would think this is the most exciting thing that the visit can bring, but there was more. Because sometimes it only takes an honest conversation to better understand the supportive link between AEGEE-Europe and the locals, and the right questions to realise that between many different groups and bodies, what we should really do is to sit down with a clean piece of paper and draw the structure of AEGEE from scratch.
Following the latest news blast targeting Agoras and other processes, and based on the never-ending research I have been conducting for the last year when it comes to the organisational development of AEGEE, I was more excited than ever to bring a fresh new perspective into the discussion: drawing a structure based on analysis of the needs of a very complex organisation, and the result is quite drastic. Yet, the need for change is in the air, and we need to put all these ideas together and rethink how we do things in order to make them work better: for the AEGEE that is ready to take on all the challenges of the 21st century; for an AEGEE 2.0.
If you want to be part of the development, and want to bring your piece of paper with something that looks like the craziest idea first, contact me [she smiles, ed.]. Never be afraid of change, and afraid to test new things and explore our limits, embrace our problems and grow stronger together. How? Well Toulouse is not the only place for crazy ideas, but AEGEE-Toulouse breathes everything that our spirit is: challenge, idealism, hard work and making the city of Toulouse so much better for so many young people.
Special thanks to Karim and for everyone in AEGEE-Toulouse for the welcoming atmosphere and the great experience! See you at the European Planning Meeting in Zagreb – or everywhere around Europe!
Written by Réka Salamon, President of AEGEE-Europe