“Europe on Track” is back: AEGEE’s prestigious project, which won the Charlemagne Youth Prize in 2013, goes into its fourth round! This year’s edition will start on 23rd of April and end one month later, at the Agora in Enschede. Currently members and locals can apply as travellers – called ambassador – or host of a local event in the framework of the project. Project manager Nicola Guida and content manager María Ballesteros gave the Golden Times an insight in “Europe on Track 4” (EoT): “This time we want to make something big on each stop!”
GT: Europe on Track goes into the fourth round. What’s new this year, what are the major changes in the project?
Nicola Guida and Maria Ballesteros: The format of the project hasn’t changed much. Six ambassadors will be travelling for a month, visiting as many cities and countries as possible and meeting and engaging young Europeans. However, compared to last year we have new people in the team, a much more defined structure and a lot more experience. This time we want to make something big on each stop, collaborating with other local and European associations and reaching more people than ever!
GT: The kickoff is at a conference in Budapest in April. Can you tell us more about it in three sentences?
Nicola and Maria: It’s the winner of this year’s Franck Biancheri Award. We will explore the need of a good education in order to become active citizens and thus achieve a real democracy, especially after all the happenings of 2016. It will be a great opportunity for our members to meet, learn and discuss and for us as EoT to start off with a bang!
GT: How many people can attend the conference and from when is it possible to apply as conference participant?
Nicola and Maria: We expect to gather more than 100 people, thanks to the support of the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri and the great work made by AEGEE-Budapest. You can already check the event on Facebook. The applications will open the 1st of February. We are waiting for you in the beautiful city of Budapest!
GT: The travellers will travel from 23of April till 23d of May. Until when can people apply as travellers and locals as hosts for organising events?
Nicola and Maria: The deadline for applications for travellers is the 3rd of February, for applications as host locals it is the 10th February.
GT: How many applications did you receive so far?
Nicola and Maria: A lot! Still nearly a week to go and we received more than 200 applications for the position of ambassador. We are still waiting to fill some spots for the locals, so antennae, don’t hesitate and apply to host the project of the year!
GT: Last year there were not only AEGEE members as travellers, although there was a couple of hundred of applications as well. Will there also be non-AEGEE travellers or will there be preference given to AEGEE members?
Nicola and Maria: Preference was given to our members last year and in our selection criteria being part of an international student organisation is also an asset. Most of the applications we receive are from outsiders – we go global! – and in our opinion this is really positive, since it promotes the project and AEGEE as a whole externally. Also we aim at being more inclusive and getting somebody who has a different background on board is really enriching and beneficial. So yes, it’s very likely that one traveller will be from outside AEGEE, but we are still waiting for more high quality applications from AEGEEans!
GT: What skills do the travellers need? In the past couple of years not all travellers reported as well with Facebook updates or videos as those of EoT1…
Nicola and Maria: Being an EoT ambassadors is not an easy role, the project is really challenging and demanding: it is a one month journey with a lot to do and not always enough time. It’s also a great and beautiful adventure, but because of this the applicants have to be really used to travel, adaptable and always positive. Most of the skills needed are listed in the application form. Each of the role – interviewer-blogger, photographer and videomaker – has its specifics, but all of them should be able to provide workshops and be good in interacting and engaging other people. You can check the videos of EoT3, which are being published now, little by little. In order to assure the good performance of the ambassadors, they will be involved in the process of managing the content for local events since they get selected. For the applications we expect to have great ambassadors this year!
GT: You want locals on the route of the travellers to organise events with the topic Civic Education. Can you give a few examples what kind of topics these event could cover?
Nicola and Maria: We would like to focus on active citizenship and its meaning in each single corner of Europe. According to those different meanings, the events will variate. Topics are active citizenship, Human/Equal rights, direct democracy and sustainability.
GT: Does the project get prominent supporters as well this year? Which patrons and sponsors does it have so far?
Nicola and Maria: InterRail remains the main sponsor. We are still working hard on fundraising and we hope to get more supporters by the start of the trip. Our main patron is the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri, while we have a really good partnership with Dorea, an international NGO based in Cyprus with whom we got an Erasmus+ training funded.
GT: You have a team of 12 people with many very experienced people! How is the cooperation going?
Nicola and Maria: We would say the project has been upgraded to another level. The cooperation is great, we have a clear task division and each one is working extremely hard to make this project the best ever. Still, since during the actual trip there is a lot to do in terms of reporting, publishing and promotion we are going to issue an open call for a social media taskforce, so if you like the project, have some spare time and would like to help us, be ready to apply!
GT: Anything else you would like to add?
Nicola and Maria: We would actually like to thank all the people who during the years have been contributing to the project, by travelling, hosting, managing it or just helping somehow. EoT has seen many people coming and going but all of them have been essential for its realisation and its future success.
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