Building bridges across Europe: hardly anything symbolises better what AEGEE is doing. No wonder that the organisers of the upcoming Network Meeting in beautiful Nijmegen chose the slogan “Bridges across Europe” as title for their event. 40 lucky participants will have the chance to learn more about AEGEE, interesting current issues and exchange best practices in the oldest city of the Netherlands – and to spend Easter together. If this doesn’t convince you yet, read what Julia Oostlander and Willem Laurentzen from the organising team told the Golden Times. The event will take place from 13th to 16th of April and the application deadline is on the 28th of February. So, be fast and don’t miss this opportunity!

GT: Why is your event called “Bridges across Europe”?
Julia Oostlander: It refers both to the iconic Waalbrug, the bridge which is also in our logo, and to our goal to create metaphorical bridges between members of different locals at our event. Fun fact: without setting this up, the theme of the AEGEE Day also happened to be “Building bridges”. So, expect to see this theme return in our special AEGEE Day during the NWM.

GT: Your event will take over Easter. How will this influence the programme? Will you make a hunt for Easter eggs?
Willem Laurentzen: Without giving too much away, we can say that we have already prepared several treats for our participants to make their Easter celebration feel special. We will not send our participants outside in the cold and early morning, but expect there to be some extra tasty snacks for everyone on Sunday.

Meet the NWM coore team (clockwise from the upper left corner): Dennis Bosman, Julia Oostlander, Willem Laurentzen, Svenja van der Tol, Jelle van Merriënboer and Lisan Viveen.

GT: What makes the Network Meeting in Nijmegen unique?
Julia: The cosiness and loveliness of Nijmegen will make you fall in love with the city immediately. Especially when you will see the entire city from the highest floor of the Erasmus tower. The workshops will be at the sleeping location, so you can just roll out of your bed and be where you have to. If you are looking for an NWM with high quality workshops, a full and diverse social programme, an amazing group spirit and lots of fun, Nijmegen is the place to be!

GT: How many people will be able to come?
Willem: We are aiming to organise a Network Meeting for a total of 35 participants. That being said, our accommodation is large enough to host five more participants. So, if we receive a lot of applications, we might be able to crank that number up to 40.

GT: What are the programme highlights? Is there any thematic focus?
Julia: The programme highlights of course depend on your own personal preference, but there will be something nice for everyone! We have a European bodies’ café, a public speaking workshop, a discussion about populism – and there will be a lot of variation. Other highlights are the AEGEE Day activity that is so closely related to our theme, and of course the conference.

The iconic Waalbrug by night.

GT: What is the conference about? And what kind of workshops do you prepare related to the European level?
Julia: We got a conference about equal rights, one of the new focus areas of AEGEE, together with our Formal Events Committee. We’ll invite some people with different opinions on the matter, so be prepared for an interesting debate clash! In addition, we prepared a lot of workshops with topics ranging from HR, PR and FR to public speaking and thematic sessions like civic education, the European Citizen Initiative and bridging Europe. Of course there will be also enough room for open space so you can decide yourself what you find interesting to discuss!

GT: How will the NWM prepare the participants for the Agora?
Julia: During the NWM the participants will share stories with each other and are able to ask people like the NetCom, ACT or CD about anything they wish to know about Agorae. After all, Network Meetings create a platform for discussion and learning, which will be easy during all the interesting workshops where we will have a nice and comfortable atmosphere after all the ice breaking games. And if that’s not enough, we’ve even prepared a real Agora simulation where you can experience what an Agora is like yourself!

GT: Many participants will be for the first time at a Network meeting. Is there any special programme for them?
Julia: We haven’t really brainstormed about this actually, as our main focus now has been logistics, location, planning and promotion for now, but it’s definitely something we will discuss later in the process! We can send them an NWM for Dummies – like the one for Agorae – or prepare some Skype meetings for them to attend before the event starts. But if you happen to be a Newbie, don’t hesitate to apply, as the best way and actually most fun way to learn is to be just thrown into the deep!

GT: Who will be trainers and speakers?
Julia: We have at least five excellent trainers during the NWM: Loes from NetCom, Joanna from CD, Diede from the AEGEE Academy, Svenja from ACT and Lennart, Loes’ SubCom. We haven’t decided on the speakers from the conference yet, but also their names will be published soon!

GT: What can you tell us about Nijmegen?
Willem: Nijmegen is a city as old as Dutch recorded history itself. It is the city of emperors like Charlemagne, Nobel prize winners, and the largest free festival in the Netherlands. From the Roman walls to the medieval streets, to the breathtaking 19th century houses, there is no part of the city that lacks in beauty.

GT: What are the highlights of the social programme?
Willem: We have our never before seen Bridge Crawl by Night, and many other awesome parties that will simply blow you away. We will also provide bicycles for our participants, but if you cannot ride a bike don’t despair. Contact us, and we may be able to find a solution on an individual basis. Most of the programme can be done on foot.

GT: Can you tell more about the parties?
Willem: We wanted to have parties that would tie in with the themes of our NWM, but that would also still allow you to take your mind off. We will talk about equal rights, so we decided to highlight this with a Sex Exchange party; as our theme is Bridges across Europe, we’ll have a Bridge Crawl by Night; and for European diversity of course the European Night.

GT: AEGEE-Nijmegen is a very active antenna. How many members do you have and how many events do you organize per year?
Willem: We currently have more than 160 members, and we organise an average of two to three events per week for a total of about 180 each year. We also have social drinks every week on Tuesdays, our weekly lunch on Wednesdays, and our active promotion of other events of AEGEE by other locals.

GT: Let’s talk about your local team: how many people are working on the event?
Julia: We got six very enthusiastic core team members, three helpers who applied before the application was even open, and a collaboration with two other committees of AEGEE-Nijmegen. The group spirit in our team is really awesome and we always have a lot of fun during our meetings when we come up with crazy new ideas. We also have a lot of amazing team buildings of course. In conclusion I’m very lucky with having such an amazing and hardworking team to help me and I’m very much looking forward to having this NWM with them!

GT: Where can potential participants find more info and apply? And what’s the deadline?
Willem: The best way to get info is to check out our Facebook event: https://goo.gl/xsjIYP or the Intranet: https://goo.gl/XfCvuZ You can apply via the form, here: https://goo.gl/SQqwxo. You can contact us at nwm.nijmegen@gmail.com. The application deadline is at the 28th of February.

GT: Anything you would like to add?
Willem: Come to NWM Nijmegen 2017! We are happy to welcome you all and give you an experience of your lifetime. Follow our event on Facebook for more cool stuff, and don’t forget to apply. Cross that bridge into Nijmegen and see you soon!

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