Four antennae have organised three Agoras so far: Amsterdam, Athina, Budapest – and Enschede. This is obviously not enough for the local at the Dutch-German border: from 23rd till 27th of May AEGEE-Enschede will host its fourth Agora! 800 participants will be able to come. The application period started a few days ago and already more than 100 people sent in their form. Just like in the previous editions it will be an Agora of short distances: lodging and all Agora locations will be on the campus, as well as two parties. Main organiser and former Agora Chair Tom Simons and Renske Hortensius, President of AEGEE-Enschede and PR responsible of the team, told the GT what you can expect.

GT: AEGEE-Enschede will be the first antenna to host four Agoras! Is your antenna proud of this achievement?
Tom Simons (smiles): Like we say in Enschede, if something happens three times it’s tradition, so we had to organise the fourth Agora to keep line with tradition.

GT: The biggest Agora ever had 1150 participants. Can you break it?
Tom: We won’t break this massive number. The maximum capacity of our plenary room is around 800 people, so more than that won’t be possible. Enschede is quite hard to reach, so we don’t expect a lot more applications than our capacity can handle.

Main organiser is Tom Simons, former Agora Chair

GT: Which part of the Agora arrangements so far makes you most proud or happy?
Tom: We have a great relation with the University of Twente, they have been super helpful and supportive throughout the entire organisation process.

GT: Which organisational part gave you the biggest headache?
Tom: Up to last week this was the planned extra day. Unfortunately we had to cut it, but now we can focus on providing an Agora of higher logistical quality than we would have been able to do with the extra day.

GT: Tom, you as main organiser will have an interesting change of perspective. Why did you become main organiser after being Chair? You can’t get enough of Agoras?
Tom: I will probably start my graduation thesis after summer, so I wanted to do one last thing in AEGEE before I retire to Les Anciens, and what better way to finish my AEGEE career than to organise the biggest event in AEGEE?

GT: In what way does your experience as chair help you organising it?
Tom: Having been in the Chair’s position, I have closely experienced all the behind the scenes work during the Agora. It’s a lot easier to understand the needs of the people participating in the Agora, as well as the struggles and challenges the Chair Team face when trying to finish everything on time.

Also in 2012 the plenary was in the campus, but in a different auditorium as 1997. In 2017 the Agora will be here again.

GT: The last Agora in Enschede was five years ago – are some of those organisers give you advice or help with contacts?
Tom: Yes, some of them are in our Supervisory Board, so their experience and knowledge is definitely helping us in realising this big event.

GT: How big is your organizing team?
Tom: We are with nine people in the core team, five people in the logistics committee, and eight people in the social programme committee. Besides that, we have the Supervisory Board, the Audit Commission, and the Board of AEGEE-Enschede with a total of 18 more people. The atmosphere is very good, but unfortunately we had the setback of several team members having health issues, this is in part the reason why we had to shorten the Agora by one day.

GT: Can people apply as helper?
Tom: We have already got some offers for helpers from several locals, so we will see how far we get. If there is still space afterwards, we will be sure to let everyone know!

Agora Enschede 2012 was the first Agora for Réka Salamon (left), who will now return as President of AEGEE-Europe!

GT: Which are the main things that still need to be finalized in the next three months? 
Tom: Although the biggest things are mostly arranged, the next months will mostly about filling in the details: for example planning all helpers during the times they are available and dividing them to different tasks, setting the exact menu for the catering, creating the badges and other printed materials. We are also still in contact with some prominent speakers that we hope can come can come, but this is entirely dependent on their schedule.

GT: What about logistics? Will there be short distances between accommodation, plenary and parties?
Tom: The accommodation, plenary and workshop rooms will all be on the campus of the University of Twente. They are on walking distance from each other, and next to the party location for two nights. The rest of the nights we’ll go to either Enschede’s city centre, or Hengelo’s city centre – both are equally far from the campus. One of the nights we will of course show AEGEE-Enschede’s own pub Asterion to all participants.

GT: Are there any spectacular venues for the opening?
Tom: For the opening we are trying to get the theatre in the city centre. At the end of March we’ll give more details about all the locations.

Spring Agora 1997 was a low-tech Agora. Beamers were around, but not common at AEGEE events. This is the newly elected President, Peter Ginser from AEGEE-Karlsruhe.

GT: What can we expect at the opening ceremony? Any famous bands or guests?
Tom: One of the guests we have is the mayor of Enschede who will be speaking at the ceremony. Also we will be having live acts from students and citizens from Enschede during the ceremony. We hope to surprise you during the ceremony with our speakers and live acts!

GT: Which pre-events or post-events do you know of?
Renske Hortensius: We don’t know yet, but are very excited to hear about all the ideas of other locals! It is always great to come together, drink a beer and meet new people or old friends before the big statutory event.

GT: What will be the party topics?
Tom: The topics will be announced soon, so keep an eye on our website agoraenschede.org and our Facebook page!

Also AEGEE-Enschede President Renske Hortensius is in the core team.

GT: Can you tell us a few words about AEGEE-Enschede? How big is your antenna, what are the main events that you organise this year?
Renske: Of course! AEGEE-Enschede is one of the four biggest students associations in Enschede with approximately 325 members. Asterion is our very own pub, where we have a pub night every Tuesday and every Thursday! Other than that we have a lot of events during this year, because we are celebrating our 30th anniversary, our so-called 6th lustrum. A few examples of events we’ve already organized this year are: a fancy prom-like party in a castle, a new year’s dinner – and a cantus, which is a typical Dutch student event: drinking beer and singing songs. And what’s to come? A pub quiz, a lot of theme parties, a wine tasting night, King’s day and much more. And you know, we’re organising this thing called the Agora as well!

Photos courtesy of Rolf Wienkötter (1997), Olivier Genkin (2005) and AEGEE-Enschede (2017)

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