One of the Interest Groups that has returned in 2020 after some years of inactivity in AEGEE is the Culture Interest Group (CIG). It started with some important steps done during the quarantine period as the formation of a core team, the publishing of articles about stereotypes and topics in European countries, some online cinema meetings and debates or the organization of an online workshop about drinking culture. The person behind this is Ilse Driessen, responsible for this group and has also recently been elected as the President of the local board of AEGEE-Nijmegen. In this interview we are going to know more about the CIG, its present moment, its future plans, and the person who made it happen again.
Hello and thank you so much for the interview, Ilse. To start off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m Ilse, I’m 21 years old and currently studying a bachelor’s degree in Pedagogical Sciences. I’ve been an active member of AEGEE-Nijmegen for a bit over two years. In my free time, besides AEGEE and hanging out with friends, my hobby is to ‘’be creative’’ in a very broad sense. For example: I like to draw, I take photos, I’ve participated in some theatre plays and sometimes I play guitar.
How did you decide to be responsible for the Culture Interest Group? Did you hear about it before?
I knew that the Culture Interest Group had been a thing, only a few months before I became a moderator. This is because at the time I was trying to do research for myself on what the complicated European AEGEE-structure is like, because I was interested and wanted to know more. When I saw that the Culture Interest Group had been inactive for quite some time, I thought it was a pity, because no other European Body focuses on arts and culture so explicitly. This is why when an open call for new moderators came out, I felt inspired to re-build this group and bring more arts and culture into AEGEE-Europe.
It’s remarkable to see that the group got organized quite quickly and started to make difference with online activities. What is the key to reach a good starting point like you did some months ago?
To be honest, I think I was quite lucky with my timing. We are in a period where online activity engagement is more popular than ever, so I immediately decided to use this to my advantage by promoting my new group in other Facebook groups such as AEGEEans in Quarantine. When people do not have a lot to do outside of their house, it is easier for them to think: ‘Hey, these people are going to have fun online, let’s join it!’’. Something else I think is important with these types of groups is that you need to persist in what you are doing. If you show an active approach towards what you are working on, the people who follow you will notice this and might be more motivated to join you in activities. I tried to post something in the group at least once a week and it was often more than that.
Could you say that the CIG should keep an online program for all the AEGEE community?
I definitely think a large part of CIG will stay online in the future, as a Facebook group can be used easily to share articles, videos and more online material. These group posts however are only available to people who are a member of our IG, but anyone in the AEGEE community can become a member! I am not sure yet to what extent I will keep up with online activities next year, as I can imagine many people (including myself) will be more focused on what is happening in real life again, but if I am organising a bigger event online, I will definitely open it up for the whole network to give everyone chance to enjoy what we create.
The CIG, as other European Bodies, has organized an online Summer University because of the cancellation of physical Summer Universities. What is the main topic and when it’s going to take place?
Our workshop: ‘’Improvise your Summer!’’ Is about the act and use of improvisational theatre. We have decided to make this workshop interactive, which means the participants will play some theatre games with us online. We have linked these improvisational games to several soft skills to which improvisation contributes: creative thinking, public speaking and teamwork. By combining theory with practice we hope to have created a fun and engaging workshop! The workshop is available from June 15th until August 31st, locals are able to contact us to plan a specific date.
To end this interview, what is the future of the CIG and what problems do you plan on tackling –even with the quarantine circumstances?
In the future, I think I would like to focus more on collaborations with other European bodies and possibly contributing to projects. I want to do this by helping with the creation of sessions and/or workshops related to arts and culture on behalf of CIG. Besides this, I want to keep organizing informal activities, such as thematic discussion nights or more movie nights and art viewing. I think a problem we may face is that people will be less engaged in our group once life goes back to ‘’normal’’, as we now do so many things online. When this happens, I think I would like to focus on things that are (partly) physical, for example I have been thinking of organizing a culture-related post crossing event. To conclude my answer to this question: I have many ideas for the future, but a lot of it is not yet concrete. I’d say, check out our Facebook group or Instagram to stay updated!