Spring Agora Enschede was over not long ago, but Autumn Agora Catania is approaching very fast and there is just one thing between being an applicant and a participant: the application.
The first thing to know is: who is going to read your applications? The Chair Team, in cooperation with the Comité Directeur, is the one in charge of selecting participants. And in case you are wondering, yes, the Chair Team will read ALL your motivation letters. Despite the fact that in the team we speak more or less a dozen languages, and ironically two of us are Italian, all your motivation letters should not be in the language of the hosting local of the Agora. The working language of our General Assembly is English, therefore while writing your application remember to use English, and English only. Do not worry if your written English is not the best, as long as you will be able to put a sentence in the right order subject + verb + complement(s), we will definitely understand you.
What to write in it? The application system is helping a bit by giving some outline questions that can help you in drafting the text.
1. Why do you want to participate in this Agora?
2. What do you know about the Agora?
3. How can you contribute to this Agora?
4. What is your AEGEE experience?
5. Since when are you an AEGEE member?
You don’t necessarily have to answer in that order. For example, you can start by describing the highlights of your AEGEE experience and when you joined AEGEE. If you are a new member and you did not have a chance to be active in your local, explain what are your expectations towards the association and the Agora. When asked to explain what you know about the Agora, do not write “enough to attend” or copy and paste what the CIA says about it. What does even mean “enough”? Each Agora is different, so try to go more in depth and describe what Agora means and is to you, what the General Assembly is for AEGEE.
What if you never attend an Agora? Don’t worry, usually up to half of the participants are at their first statutory event. Here you can write how you discovered about Agora, what do you expect the Agora to be. You can also talk with more experienced members, your local boards or even the Network Commissioners and ask what our General Assembly looks like, thus having a better picture of it. Don’t write that you never been to Agora and that’s all, but show that, even if at your first experience, you are eager to learn and participate.
How you can contribute to this Agora is a subjective questions, but in this field you can specify if you are thinking to hold a workshop or a progress meeting, if you are thinking to present something in the plenary, if you would like to help other delegates or visitors with your knowledge or even if you want to run for an elective position. After answering all these questions, why you want to attend the Agora will come easily. And no, getting fatter with heavenly delicious Sicilian food will not be considered a good motivation, even thought we all know that Local organisers are working hard to have the best food possible [Of course, no pressure on you here! she winks, ed.].
Don’t leave it empty, don’t type random words or don’t put just smiles on it. Especially empty applications mean automatical rejection if you are a visitor. Even if you are most likely to be accepted – if you are a delegate or member of a European body – writing a good motivation letter is always a plus. Definitely, it would be perfect to state at least the body you are representing or what you are going to do during the Agora.
What you SHOULD NOT write on it. Avoid having the desire to visit Sicily as your only motivation to go to the Agora. You can book some days before or after the Statutory Event will take place to do that. Don’t say that you will go to the beach instead of attending plenaries, don’t use as your main engine coming to Catania with the intention of meeting friends, discovering a new culture or being a party animal. Those things are nice, but they are not in line with the purpose of our statutory events.
Locals’ boards are important too. They have the faculty of creating a ranking for visitors and assign the participant type (when it is not decided by the local agora) and to leave comments. In this cases, the best thing to do is to be honest. Do not copy and paste the motivation letter of other applicants from your local, but also do not copy and paste board comments for every single member who applied, especially if you do not make an effort to at least change their gender. If you think that several people are promising and more or less equally good, change the words you use for each one of them, personalise your comment. Indeed it is true that boards do not know all the members personally, especially with big locals. In case this happens, and you do not know the applicants, then find a moment to talk with them in order to understand better their motivation to go to the Agora. Locals’ Boards are important also to prepare a bit members who are coming to the Agora. Treat our General Assembly as a Summer University when it comes to the applications. How much effort do we put in making sure that all the members who applied for a SU have a solid motivation letter? Then, try to check also what members of your locals are writing for the Agora. It’s a good way to have all the applicants coming from your local accepted, and an occasion to prepare them already for the event to be.
For any questions, you can reach the Chair Team here or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Erika Bettin, Chairwoman of Autumn Agora Catania 2017