“What we are looking forward to is planting seeds”~Carolina Alfano, Main Organizer of Agora Salerno.

An Agora is the biggest event in AEGEE – more than 600 participants attend it every year – and maybe even the most important, since it is where the future of the association is drawn with everyone’s vote. From the 23rd to the 27th of October all the lucky AEGEEans who were accepted will go to Agora Salerno 2019, which has the powerful title of “Another Brick Off The Wall”. The AEGEEan got in contact with Carolina Alfaro, the main organizer, to get an insight into this year’s edition in Salerno, a beautiful Italian city that already hosted an Agora many years ago.

“Another Brick Off The Wall”, tell us, Carolina, why did you choose this name for the event?

The name we chose for Autumn Agora Salerno 2019 is mostly related to the content of the Agora. I say mostly because in it we decided to also create a historical link to the first Agora AEGEE-Salerno hosted in 1989. As you might be aware of, in 1989 Agora Salerno took place (coincidentally) one day after the fall of the Berlin wall. Our taste in music and the one and only question we kept asking ourselves “Which is the biggest wall youngsters face in their lives?” led us to “Another Brick Off The Wall”. We were quite aware that choosing the title would have not been an easy task. There are certain rules to be followed: it has to be catchy, meaningful and easy to play with, then “Another Brick Off The Wall” came along and it just stole our hearts. I must admit that our title also has a goal: to send out the message that there are no walls that we cannot break down. We hope we have accomplished this.

What do you think that Salerno can offer to this Agora to make it unique?

Honestly, Agorae are already unique. The urge AEGEEans have to discuss proposals, motions, and to come up on stage for statements is unique in its own kind of way. What Salerno is adding to that uniqueness is, not only the Campus of the University of Salerno, one of the most outstanding university campuses in South Italy, but also its beauty in terms of architecture, arts, and history. Salerno is a unique city. It is a city for all tastes and that is so due to its surroundings and the vast diversity of the landscapes of its Province. To the east, you have mountains, rivers, and lakes; moving west one can dive into the deep blue seas. To the north, Salerno is surrounded by the “Divine” Amalfi Coast. Why divine? Because with its rocky beaches, the cliffs, the picturesque houses decorated with handmade bright coloured ceramics and breathtaking terraces, walking through the Amalfitan villages, is a hard-to-forget experience. Moving south, it is possible to discover the “Sauvage” Cilento Coast. The Cilento area with its National park, sandy beaches and oasis radiate a scent of traditions still lingering in its narrow historical villages; Cilento is a worthy living experience. That is why we highly recommend participants to either come to Autumn Agora Salerno beforehand, or either stay a little longer with us! 

This is the second Agora organized by AEGEE-Salerno, the first being back in 1989. Which changes did Europe and specifically Salerno experience since this very first macro event?

A lot has changed in 30 years. Half of the core team was born 30 years ago together with our Antenna. In our AEGEE history and career, we have been through ups and downs. I believe it is physiologic, but it’s what brought us together stronger than ever. Even the connection we have with the “oldies” (AEGEE-Salerno’s alumni), the first young Europeans that firmly believed in the European values. It is from them that we learned not to repeat the same mistakes and appreciate the downs AEGEE can put you through. We owe a lot to every single one of them. From what we can tell, AEGEE has changed a lot in its structure, the bureaucracy, even if at Spring Agora București we witnessed a significant simplification of the latter. Luckily for us, we are partially affected by the storms hitting what we believe in and volunteer for: Europe.

Historically speaking, Europe has changed enormously: the Schengen area, the euro zone, the roaming, Erasmus, just to mention but few. Just recently, while celebrating the 30th birthday of our Antenna, we engaged in a discussion on how Erasmus has changed in 30 years. Most of our alumni were “free movers”, studying abroad without financial support from Europe or from the Universities. Not to mention the madness of translating all the documentation! That just put off all the complaints on scholarships and learning agreements. It made us appreciate even more the advantages of our generation. And yet, after achieving so much, Europe is going through rough times. We question its existence and importance without thinking about what living with boundaries was like.

There is just a few weeks left for the Agora and we are sure that you’re spending a lot of time with the preparations. Which is the most fun part of organizing Agora Salerno? And the most challenging one?

We have witnessed more memorable moments while organizing Agora than ever before . We strongly recommend big and small Antennae to organize one. The fun starts at biweekly meetings when we brainstorm on problem solving: all the craziest ideas ever, like hosting the whole Agora on a cruise or prepare food with our hands for 800 people. For instance, to overcome communication problems and the “WhatsApp issue” of long voice messages and core team members not even standing the thought of having to listen to a one minute audio. The most challenging aspect for us is bureaucracy. The patience we are demonstrating these months is beyond any expectations. Ironic for southern Italians, huh? Institutional bureaucracy will kill us all!

What do we know about the Social Programme? Are there going to be any surprises?

Definitely, we know more than you! And so it should be until we decide to disclose further information. Stay tuned on Social networks to find out more!

Are there going to be any pre-events or post-events?

A sort of small pre-event will be hosted on 5th – 6th October in Petina -one of our recent destinations during our 30th Summer University in Cilento area. The event, hosted by Coordinamento Forum Giovani (Youth Forum Coordination) will gather hundreds of youngsters from all the Province of Salerno for the “Forum Days”. A two-days event open to all interested where AEGEE-Salerno will present and hold its thematic discussion table on ‘Entrepreneurship: Business development in Europe’. The aim focuses on drafting a white paper that will be presented during Agora. As far as I know, AEGEE-Napoli will also host the pre-event “A Mandatory Stop”. Further information can be found here. But, applications to join this pre-event are closed…We hope you already applied! :)

Which is the most important thing that you hope everyone can learn from attending this Agora?

The core team is working hard to assure the Network a great Agora to remember, we hope that all our efforts will be appreciated despite the results of the event. What we are looking forward to is planting seeds. Empowering youngsters not to be afraid to express themselves considering the education and career gap in Europe. Mobility should not be taken for granted, it is our only mean as human beings to learn and appreciate the differences that make our continent unique. We are the only builders of our future and whenever institutions fail to give us solutions, we should not be staring at the walls but tear them down brick by brick.