It’s the closing plenary of Spring Agora Enschede 2017 and the next European Planning Meeting hosting local has been announced: it is AEGEE-Yerevan! We reached out to them and spoke to Armenak Minasyants from the Armenian local to ask them more about their reaction to the good news and some sneak peeks.
The AEGEEan: Why did you apply to host European Planning Meeting 2018?
Armenak: There are many reasons behind the motivation of our local to apply for hosting the European Planning Meeting 2018. We have a strong belief towards our own institutional and administrative resources to host such a big event in our city. In AEGEE-Yerevan we are people who believe that the objective of life is to hit and not get hit. We are looking to expand our portfolio while we are on top and while we are extremely motivated. In the last seven years, we have set the model for showing to thousands of young people in Armenia how they should be responsible citizens and youth workers in and out of AEGEE. Now, it is high time also to deliver this on the European level!
Another amazing reason and motivation for applying is that practically EPM Yerevan 2018 will become the biggest youth European event ever organised in Armenia and AEGEE, in our perception, shall be the organisation making the history in different corners of Europe! We welcome the approach of the CDs in recent years to grant the locals in non-EU countries an opportunity to host statutory events. Our Network is amazingly diverse and it is great to have these synergies of hosting for instance Agora in Western Europe and afterwards coming to the very South-East of Europe and experiencing ideally a different reality during EPM. This will surely contribute to internal transformations within AEGEE and will boost our sense of being European not just as a matter of geography, as being European is first and foremost caring about the same universal system of values. Hence, we are motivated to have the EPM and allow everyone to discover one of the oldest cradles of European culture.
How did you react when you first heard the news that you were accepted?
Ohhhhh my God! OMG OMG OMG! I mean, this is literally the biggest moment in my life! When it was announced it literally took almost a day from me to calm down, as I have been calling everyone to inform about the news! On the next day, we hosted a board meeting and pumped a bottle of the best local champagne, thus marking the start of our preparations! Yes, we have started it already! The emotions are too hard to describe, this is something you need to go through.
How would you describe AEGEE-Yerevan?
We are young, talented, passionate and very professional local! Our ultimate goal is to always break records and the EPM 2018 is the next milestone for us! Our local now has successfully undergone the period of reconstruction and revival, the generational change has been finalised, the institutional memory of the organisation is better than ever, and the organisational matters are handled in the most professional manner with six board members constantly working. We have extremely experienced board members, who are flavoured with very young newcomers’ enthusiasts striving for experience.
Who will be in the core team of EPM Yerevan?
Let me first of all pass words of thankfulness to Ani, Kalipso, Anna, Nirvana, Izabella, Armine, Davit, Anush, Vika, Suren, Tereza and everyone who has helped us to make this application happen!
The core team of EPM Yerevan has eight members and is indeed amazingly strong! We have decided to bring out the best we have in the wardrobe. We will have former Network Commissioner Tereza “China” as one of the logistics officers working on the preparatory, we will have Ani Khachatryan – our long running and very experienced Secretary General, and surely another 40 local organisers and helpers coming up to help on any matter.
Furthermore, EPM Yerevan will be also special as all the external promotion, PR materials, merchandise will be made by professionals, as we will be working with professional PR and design agencies such as Ktor Designs and Deem Communications. This will help us having qualitatively new branding for such a big and important event.
Last but not the least, I have decided to be the head of the core team and I want to dedicate myself fully to the biggest project of my life, which the EPM is! Probably this will be the best way to end my long European AEGEE journey and retire from the association right at the EPM stage surrounded by my friends, AEGEEans and the organisation, which has given to me so much in past eight years.
Does AEGEE-Yerevan have any past experience in organising an event similar to the EPM?
Every year in Autumn we host a thematic EU-funded conference – Armenia Model EU Conference, which brings to Armenia up to 150 young people, youth workers and civic activists from all over Europe. This four-days project consists not only of a typical simulation conference style activity, but also of almost two days full of encounters, thematic panel discussions and open space discussions with leading European and local experts, mainly focusing on European political agenda matters.
It is worth to mention that in February 2017 we solely organised and hosted a thematic conference attended by Mr. Christian Danielsson, who is the Director General for Enlargement at the European Commission (DG NEAR). This has been a tremendous experience for us: just imagine we hosted a thematic event for 250 students with the attendance of a top EU official.
So, we are looking forward to comprehend our resources, experience and build up on our success stories for making the upcoming EPM really groundbreaking.
What do you have in mind for the facilities and the programme?
Even though it is a bit early now to discuss the facilities, it has been agreed preliminarily that the event will take place at the auspices of one of the best universities in Yerevan, which has the highest quality of technical equipment and facilities, which will be surely available to any EPM participant. We want participants not to face any technical problem during their activities. More notably, we want to suggest participants the most comfortable ever conditions of stay during an AEGEE statutory event. I really do not want to fold all our cards now, let’s keep it still as a surprise, but we will try to set up ideally a new benchmark in project quality and fundraising in AEGEE.
The programme will be amazingly packed, and not only because of the sessions, as we want every participant to feel the magic and spirit of our city, which will be marking its 2800th birthday in 2018!
Hence, everyone will have a chance to climb over the heights of the Cascade Stairs of Yerevan and admire the city panorama view, we will have an AEGEE flashmob on the longest pedestrian avenue, we will taste the best of our local wines and just enjoy the hospitality of any ordinary Yerevan resident, suggesting participants classical Armenian coffee and pastries.
What will be your biggest challenges in hosting the EPM?
We treat every challenge as a new opportunity to develop our skills and grow stronger as an organization. Hence there are no challenges for us to host the EPM – it is all about opportunities – ain’t no boundaries, ain’t no limits. However, focusing more on the technical ground, I think the biggest challenge will be in supporting every participant with the travelling matters. Basically, we are going to help as much as possible in any transportation related matter. They are four ways for travelling to Yerevan (counting also Tbilisi and Kutaisi) and we are going to work at maximum to help each participant to reach Yerevan in the most cost effective and budgetary way.
What makes Yerevan attractive to visit?
Yerevan is all about people! The hospitality and friendly attitude are probably the most common features of any Armenian and you can feel that hospitality on every step in Yerevan! Yerevan is rocking Europe since 786 BC! For millennia Yerevan has been at the crossroads of cultural trends, intellectual thought, groundbreaking research, and incredible inventions. Now it is bursting with a rocking nightlife and a buzzing restaurant scene. The city center is full of great wine houses and our city is owning the title of one of the world’s top 10 safest cities. Yerevan is an incredibly walkable city. As one of the safest cities in Europe, you will never find yourself in trouble, no matter how shabby the neighborhood appearance may be and how much drunk you might be. Around 82% of Yerevan residents feel quite safe walking home alone at night. So yes, life in Yerevan goes on in a safe, tiny, and sunny spot. The day of Yerevan residents starts with the bright sun greeting them in the morning, as we have sunny weather almost 300 days per year! The smell of “Armenian” coffee is spreading everywhere since the morning, and everyone from schoolchildren to officials doing their everyday work feel safe about their lives. Truly, if you are top AEGEE talent wanting to change the world, our organisation and enjoy yourself while doing it all, there is no better place to come and join than EPM Yerevan 2018!
Written by Federica Soro, AEGEE-Cagliari and Maria Zwartkruis, AEGEE-Utrecht