The Cau­ca­sus is right at the bor­der between Europe and Asia. Geor­gia, Arme­nia and Azer­bai­jan where the last Euro­pean coun­tries that AEGEE expand­ed to – almost 20 years after the found­ing of the asso­ci­a­tion. Since 2004 AEGEE-Tbil­isi is part of the net­work. Today, we can­not imag­ine the net­work any­more with­out this great anten­na. In the sixth seg­ment of the Gold­en Times series “AEGEE on the edge of Europe” AEGEE-Tbilisi’s PR and Project Man­ag­er Mari­am Cheghe­lidze told us more about her anten­na.

Mariam Cheghelidze
Mari­am Cheghe­lidze

Gold­en Times: How Euro­pean-mind­ed are nor­mal peo­ple and stu­dents in your city on y scale from 0 (not Euro­pean-mind­ed at all) to 10 (extreme­ly Euro­pean-mind­ed)?
Mari­am Cheghe­lidze: The board of our anten­na dis­cussed this ques­tion and to our mind the stu­dents liv­ing in Geor­gia are Euro­pean-mind­ed at 9 from 10, but as for old gen­er­a­tion we can esti­mate it as 5 from 10.

GT: How many mem­bers do you have? And when was your anten­na found­ed?
Mari­am: AEGEE-Tbil­isi was found­ed on the 24th of April in 2004 and it was the first local in South­ern Cau­ca­sus. Nowa­days we have around 50 mem­bers and 20 are real­ly active mem­bers.

AEGEE-Tbil­isi infodesk

GT: Is it hard to find mem­bers?
Mari­am: It is not that hard to find mem­bers. It is dif­fi­cult to keep them on a very active lev­el.

GT: What do you tell poten­tial mem­bers when they say: “AEGEE sounds nice, but all the events are far away…”?
Mari­am: “Do you think that AEGEE sounds nice, but all the events are far away? Do not wor­ry, because there are direct flights that Wiz­zair offers!” It is a real­ly inter­est­ing ques­tion, I remem­ber I had this ques­tion on the begin­ning stage of my mem­ber­ship, but then every­thing came by itself when I met so many peo­ple from many dif­fer­ent coun­tries and dis­tance turned irrel­e­vant for me. So I will tell them that “AEGEE gives you so sweet, spe­cial moments, friends of your life and gives you oppor­tu­ni­ties to be mem­ber of a big inter­na­tion­al fam­i­ly, so you won’t even think about kilo­me­tres”.

AEGEE-Tbilisi exchange with AEGEE-Eindhoven in 2017.
AEGEE-Tbil­isi exchange with AEGEE-Eind­hoven in 2017.

GT: How much does trav­el­ling cost to Cen­tral Euro­pean loca­tions, such as Munich or Vien­na?
Mari­am: It real­ly depends but you can find flights to Berlin for around 50 Euros with­out lug­gage and maybe around 80 Euros to Vien­na.

GT: Is get­ting visa for events a big prob­lem for your mem­bers?
Mari­am: Nowa­days it is not that much of a prob­lem for Geor­gian peo­ple because of visa lib­er­al­iza­tion.

GT: Are there also pos­i­tive aspects from your geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion? If yes, which ones?
Mari­am: There are many pos­i­tive aspects from Georgia’s geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion. We are real­ly proud of it! Geor­gia is not a very big coun­try, it is only 69,700 square kilo­me­tres, but at least on this very lit­tle land you can enjoy high moun­tains — the high­est moun­tain in Shkhara has 5193 metres — and the sea all at once! Geor­gia is a good exam­ple of mixed cul­tures, reli­gions and tra­di­tions liv­ing in one small place; it gives peo­ple a diverse and strong char­ac­ter. Last but not least we are real­ly proud for our fan­tas­tic nature: sea, forests and rocky moun­tains are gath­ered in one small coun­try.

AEGEE-Tbilisi's Summer University in 2017.
AEGEE-Tbilisi’s Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty in 2017.

GT: Rough­ly how many for­eign mem­bers are attend­ing your events year year?
Mari­am: Per year approx­i­mate­ly 60 for­eign mem­bers attend our projects.

GT: Did you coop­er­ate in 2017 with oth­er anten­nae or do you plan that for 2018?
Mari­am: In 2017 we coop­er­at­ed with AEGEE-Eind­hoven and orga­nized an exchange pro­gramme in both coun­tries. In 2018 we are coop­er­at­ing with AEGEE-Yere­van for a pre-EPM event.

AEGEE-Tbilisi's Summer University in 2017.
AEGEE-Tbilisi’s Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty in 2017.

GT: Which inter­na­tion­al events are you plan­ning for 2018?
Mari­am: Our Win­ter Uni­ver­si­ty takes place from 7 to 15 Feb­ru­ary, the pre-EPM event from 4 to 7 March and then we also have a Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty!

GT: Do you some­times wish your anten­na was more cen­tral or do you enjoy being at the edge of Europe?
Mari­am: We often wish to have the chance to go by train for two or three days and attend con­fer­ences or just to trav­el to Euro­pean coun­tries, but… despite of this, when for­eign par­tic­i­pants come here, we real­ize how inter­est­ing our coun­try is for them. Being on the edge of Europe gives us some­thing spe­cial.

Check out the complete series “AEGEE on the edge of Europe”!

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