The New Contact in Nicosia: “Dreams Can Become Reality Very Fast”

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Andreas Panayiotou found­ed the new Con­tact of AEGEE-Europe in Nicosia. It’s the third time over the past 20 years that an AEGEE out­post is estab­lished in the cap­i­tal of the Repub­lic Cyprus. “We are hav­ing offi­cial­ly now 11 mem­bers, while we are expect­ing this num­ber to rise, Andreas told the Gold­en Times. If you want to vis­it an event there, here is your chance: “We are cur­rent­ly organ­is­ing a big cul­tur­al event that will take place in Nicosia in June”, says Andreas.

Andreas Panayiotou

GT: When and how did you hear about AEGEE for the first time?
Andreas Panayiotou: The first time I ever heard about AEGEE was through an appli­ca­tion form for a Euro­pean stu­dents meet­ing. Last semes­ter I have been in Eras­mus exchange where I saw AEGEE in action. Talk­ing with peo­ple there took my atten­tion and soon I decid­ed that with my return to Cyprus I would found AEGEE-Nicosia. Dreams, indeed, come slow, but can become real­i­ty very fast, if you real­ly want them to.

GT: What was your very first impres­sion of AEGEE when you heard about it? Was it fas­ci­nat­ing, strange, com­pli­cat­ed, some­thing you always had been wait­ing for?
Andreas: My very first impres­sion of AEGEE was hon­est­ly awk­ward. I per­ceived AEGEE as an organ­i­sa­tion that recog­nis­es “ille­gal uni­ver­si­ties” due to the Cyprus Issue and pol­i­tics. Back then, I would snob AEGEE and oppose it. My sec­ond and warmer meet­ing with AEGEE was through my Eras­mus+ exchange in Tar­rag­o­na, Spain. When I realised the pur­pos­es and goals of AEGEE, the fact that AEGEE exists in Fam­a­gus­ta turned out to be a moti­va­tion for me to cre­ate AEGEE-Nicosia. The fact that it could bring the two worlds of Cyprus togeth­er as a meet­ing point was fas­ci­nat­ing me.

The first meet­ing of the new con­tact took place in Feb­ru­ary!

GT: How did you become a con­tact?
Andreas: To become a con­tact was quite easy for me. The first thing I did was to send an email, to which Net­work Direc­tor Tekla Haj­du respond­ed. We arranged a Skype meet­ing where Tekla and the Net­work Com­mis­sion­ers Spy­ros and Alessan­dra explained me the process of becom­ing a con­tact. With­in a week I had talks with three uni­ver­si­ties in Nicosia and con­tact­ed the rec­tor of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cyprus, who was very will­ing to sup­port us. It was a great plea­sure for me to talk with peo­ple from AEGEE-Europe for the very first time in such a con­text. Peo­ple from AEGEE-Europe turned out to be very joy­ful and will­ing to help. It was one of the nicest moments in the process.

GT: When did you offi­cial­ly become a con­tact?
Andreas: We offi­cial­ly became a con­tact on 1st of Feb­ru­ary and since then we are try­ing to organ­ise some events. Our goal is to become an anten­na.

The founder of the first AEGEE local in Nicosia, Sophie Tsouris.

GT: How many mem­bers do you have right now?
Andreas: We are hav­ing offi­cial­ly now 11 mem­bers, while we are expect­ing this num­ber to rise. Many of our friends are not offi­cial­ly mem­bers yet, while they are join­ing our meet­ings. They are very excit­ed to organ­ise our first event. Unof­fi­cial­ly we con­sist of 17 mem­bers.

GT: Do you think it is dif­fi­cult to find mem­bers in your city?
Andreas: AEGEE is not well known or wide-spread in Cyprus. This makes many of the peo­ple we are approach­ing either sus­pi­cious or ignor­ing us. We are hop­ing that after our events more peo­ple will join us. Very inter­est­ing was the fact that peo­ple from Cyprus who are either cur­rent­ly inscribed in anoth­er AEGEE anten­na or are cur­rent­ly abroad, con­tact­ed us so they could join. We are plan­ning to approach peo­ple through uni­ver­si­ties and we are cur­rent­ly plan­ning a small pro­mo­tion event.

Nicosia is a divid­ed city. AEGEE’s alum­ni asso­ci­a­tion Les Anciens vis­it­ed the city in 2011.

GT: How Euro­pean-mind­ed are the stu­dents in your city?
Andreas: Cyprus in gen­er­al has some very sen­si­tive issues, which are very con­tem­po­rary in terms of ter­ri­to­ries, bor­ders and geog­ra­phy. Apart from the mate­ri­al­is­tic issues the biggest one I think is the men­tal bor­ders that exist for many years now. Peo­ple in Cyprus and Nicosia wel­come the orig­i­nal ideals and goals of the Euro­pean Union, while they are still not very aware of how they could con­tact Europe while not being a politi­cian. In our cul­ture trav­el­ling is one of the basics as we are an island and Europe is our first choice to go to. It is my belief that stu­dents in Nicosia want to be active and Euro­pean-mind­ed, but so far they did not the chance of act­ing upon it.

GT: Is it hard or expen­sive for your mem­bers to trav­el around Europe?
Andreas: Trav­el­ling is very expen­sive for peo­ple in Cyprus. Many times tick­ets to Asian or Mid­dle East coun­tries like the Emi­rates are much cheap­er than any trav­el with­in Europe. Although, over the last year I saw the air­plane tick­et prices being much low­er and approach­able to every­one. Trav­el­ing would be eas­i­er if Cyprus was not an island or the air­lines had cheap­er tick­ets.

The leg­endary buffer zone of Nicosia. AEGEE organ­ised a con­fer­ence there in the last decade.

GT: What will be the first activ­i­ty that you want to organ­ise in your city with AEGEE?
Andreas: We are cur­rent­ly organ­is­ing a big cul­tur­al event that will take place in Nicosia in June. Mean­while, we are going to have some oth­er events of polit­i­cal, social and enter­tain­ment affairs pri­or to the big event.

GT: Why should AEGEE mem­bers from all over Europe vis­it you and your city?
Andreas: As a case study Nicosia is very unique. The last divid­ed cap­i­tal of Europe needs Euro­pean-mind­ed peo­ple to become unit­ed again. Nicosia’s his­to­ry is writ­ten all over the city. A medieval city cen­tre sur­round­ed by Venet­ian Walls, the 20th cen­tu­ry epoch sur­round­ing the Old Town, con­tem­po­rary archi­tec­ture of Zaha Hadid and Jean Nou­v­el, the Cyprus Archae­o­log­i­cal Muse­um, Lev­en­tis Muse­um and Art Col­lec­tion, Nicosia as the main stu­dents’ city of the island, riv­er Pedi­aios and the unique Cyprus land­scape are just some of the ingre­di­ents that make Nicosia attrac­tive. The sun can be enjoyed ten months a year, while access­ing the coast­lines of the oth­er cities is very easy. Anoth­er very impor­tant fact is the hos­pi­tal­i­ty and kind­ness of peo­ple and espe­cial­ly those of the province and the beau­ti­ful pic­turesque vil­lages. All in all Nicosia has many things to offer but many things to absorb from Europe and Euro­peans as well. The shar­ing of opin­ions, ideas and thoughts is what needs the most.

GT: Are you going to attend some AEGEE events in spring? Which ones?
Andreas: I will per­son­al­ly attend the Ago­ra in May. Due to the organ­is­ing of the events I need to be in Cyprus until June, while oth­er mem­bers are going to join some oth­er events soon. There has been inter­est in vis­it­ing some of the events but I have not a clue yet.

GT: A few words about you: how old are you, what do you study?
Andreas: I am 21 years old at the moment, soon will be 22. I am Cypri­ot from Limas­sol and my first tongue is Greek. I am a stu­dent of archi­tec­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cyprus. In gen­er­al I want to believe I am a fun per­son. I am easy approach­able and social and very open to sug­ges­tions and crit­i­cism. Any­one can con­tact me through my page in Face­book.

GT: What oth­er hob­bies do you have besides AEGEE?
Andreas: To be hon­est all my hob­bies died as soon as I entered uni­ver­si­ty. Archi­tec­ture con­sumes most of my time. I like draw­ing, cre­at­ing, sculpt­ing and writ­ing. I used to be engaged with many dif­fer­ent sports in the past while I am not los­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty for an adven­ture all year around. I enjoy being with friends any­where. I am club­bing on my good days and enjoy friends’ com­pa­ny by the sea on my bad. I do love cin­e­ma and bowl­ing. My hob­bies at the moment are main­ly focused on AEGEE and TV series.

Con­tact Nicosia on Face­book: www.facebook.com/AEGEE-Contact-In-Nicosia-634630643406509

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