Planning Meeting 2013: Navigating Europe

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In the summer 2013, after a year of intense activities at local level, the board of AEGEE Genova decided to organize an international event with thematic background in the network of AEGEE: the Planning Meeting 2013. During the event, held in Genova from 4th to 8th of Semptember, 30 participants including Planning Team and AEGEE Europe board members will draft the guide to the Strategic Plan 2014-2017 that will be ratified during the Autumn Agora in Zaragoza. Youth mobility, youth unemployement, peace and stability, active citizenship, euro-optimism are just few of the focus area of the event.

AEGEE Genova has been nominated Local of the Month of September 2013 for hosting efficiently the Planning Meeting. Below an extract of the interview to the president Antonio Carassiti, done by the official online magazine of the network “The AEGEEan”, written by Anna Gumbau.

“If someone still believes that stereotype about the citizens of Genova being greedy and narrow-minded, they haven’t met the members of AEGEE-Genova. This young local, who signed the Convention d’Adhésion at EBM Riga 2011, is growing fast and definitely likes to think big. That was the reason they organized the Planning Meeting 2013, where a wide group of AEGEEans gathered to discuss about the Focus Areas for the upcoming Strategic Plan 2014-17.

The Planning Meeting turned out to be a very valuable experience: the organizers managed to create the perfect combination of hard work and a social program that allowed for a lot of relaxation time and good parties. Punctual, helpful, and always with a good sense of humour, the members of AEGEE-Genova were wonderful hosts. Besides, if we add a truly beautiful scenery such as the city of Genova, there was no better framework for the participants to prepare a draft of the Strategic Plan.

The AEGEEan spoke to the outgoing president of AEGEE-Genova.

“First of all, Antonio and all our dear genovesi, congratulations! How did the members from AEGEE-Genova celebrate the great news?”

“Thank you very much! Everybody was obviously happy, we opened a bottle of spumante (Italian sparkling wine) yesterday evening to celebrate it.”

“Can you tell us a bit about AEGEE-Genova?”

“AEGEE-Genova is a pretty young antenna. Tiziano Tosatti (former President and Vice-President, and now in the Advisory board with me) founded it in 2010. He signed the Convention d’Adhésion at EBM Riga 2011, and believe it or not during Summer 2011 we were already in the middle of our first TSU (Travelling Summer University) with AEGEE-Torino as organizers! We slowly gained new members after that, but it’s only in the last year, after we decided to focus on local level, that we finally managed to have a big group (around 70 members with 10-15 active). I am really happy about my antenna, there is a lot of AEGEE spirit and I’m sure that this won’t be the last time that you’ll find us in The AEGEEan!”

“What motivated the team to organize the Planning Meeting?”

“Well, it was a perfect occasion for us, after a year without European events: it’s a short event, in a perfect period (September) for activating people who just came back from the SUs, and also a perfect occasion for making our newbies aware of what the so-called ‘European level’ is. It worked really well, considering that two girls that helped us during the event have just been elected in the new board.”

“Which do you think were the biggest challenges about organizing a Planning Meeting?”

(smiles) “Explaining to people from my local why a big group of people should come to Genova just to discuss all day about serious topics! Jokes apart, the biggest challenge was actually the selection of participants: we had to do the event at the beginning of September, so the entire application/selection process happened during the Summer, with people going to Summer University, home, wherever. That’s the reason why we had less participants than expected. The organization of the event itself is actually easier than other events (a SU for example): the absence of a “day program” helps a lot from this point of view.”

“And what about the best things?”

“Showing everyone in Genova what AEGEE is really about. It will help us a lot in our relationship with the university and the local council. And of course, getting to show how beautiful Genova is to a lot of people.”

Can you think of any curious anecdote during the organization of the PM 2013?

“Unfortunately, the best anecdotes are not suitable for a public interview… but I really want to talk about the wake-up song: since in the previous events as organizer I was hated by everyone because of the music I used (Slayer, Metallica), I’ve decided to use a nicer/happier one, which you can listen clicking here. Right after the first morning, the participants split in two groups: the first group loved it and sang it all day long, while the second group completely hated it. This “hatred” between the groups kept on going also after the event. I was even told that the confrontation moved to the Head office of AEGEE in Brussels, where Miguel Gallardo (Projects Director) uses it everyday as his alarm ringtone, while Beáta Matuszka (Network & Human Resources Director), his roommate, would prefer not to hear that song ever again.”

Oh my God , who could forget about that song!? Apart from that, during the event there were no delays, the communications between organizers and participants was very smooth, all the activities were run always on time. Which do you think were the ingredients for such a success?

I could go on for hours on this topic. I will just say: organizers must be always on time, there has to be a very detailed timetable and sometimes you need to kick some participant’s (and organizer’s) ass…! I just want to say that a lot of what I know about organizing events came from the past Summer University Project School I attended, and seeing the results I have to say that trainers did a great job there. The value of European Schools is way underrated in our network, I hope that locals will understand their importance as soon as possible.”