Summer Universities 2017: 65 Adventures All Over Europe

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On Friday, 3rd of February, the list of the Summer Universities in 2017 will go online. This year, the AEGEE members can choose among 65 courses. Altogether 94 antennae are involved in the organization, reports the Summer University Coordination Team (SUCT). Project Manager Lucia Gavulová, Content Manager Claudio Gennaro, PR Responsible Ralitsa Mihaylova and IT Responsible Philipp Blum told the GT readers what you can expect this year. In a nutshell: many Travelling SUs, 18 events in cooperation with other bodies, more content, more language courses, an even better website and the SUs with the funniest names. We only say one word: “Streichholzschächtelchen”. Enjoy the interview!

The SUCT, including the appointed CD member (from left to right): Claudio Gennaro, Lucia Gavulová, Joanna Pankowska, Philipp Blum and Ralitsa Mihaylova.

GT: How many SUs were registered for 2017? And how much might this number still change?
SUCT: We have 65 SUs this year! We checked all applications; for some we are still waiting for a reply, mostly regarding the fee.

GT: How many antennae are applying for organising these SUs?
SUCT: If we counted right the number is 94, of which two are involved in two Summer Universities.

GT: The number of SUs is lower than last year…
SUCT: As you can guess from the number, and soon will see in detail, there are quite some Travelling Summer Universities with many, many locals, something extraordinary.

GT: When will we be able to check the SUs? And when will the application period be opened?
SUCT: From the 3rd of February, you will be able to check all Summer Universities – including dates, prices and a short description. From 22th of March you will be able to see all details: More pictures, activities and the well-known map of every SU! The application period will be from 22nd of March until 28th of April – again at noon.

The Summer University of Barcelona in 2016

GT: How is the SU distribution according to types?
SUCT: The distribution looks quite the same as in the last years: three Summer Courses Plus, and the rest split between Summer Courses and Travelling Summer Universities.

GT: How many cooperations are there with other bodies such as WGs or the Academy?
SUCT: At this moment, 18 Summer Universities said they will have a cooperation, which still has to be verified by the European bodies. As we set a strict guideline for cooperations this year, the number will most probably drop.

GT: Which body is the most popular cooperation partner?
SUCT: The Civic Education Working Group is a clear number 1 when it comes to numbers, followed by the Drinkwise Project. Also ACT is there this year!

One of the Summer Universities of Athina in 2016

GT: How many language courses are there this year? More than the three of the last year?
SUCT: There is a total of seven Summer Universities that are related to Language. Special language courses will be available in German and Russian, and there will be SUs with more than one session in Albanian, Georgian and Polish!

GT: Which topics are the most popular?
SUCT: According to the categories, History and Local Culture is by far the most popular, followed by Sports.

GT: You checked all SU titles and topics – are there some that are especially interesting or funny?
SUCT: It seems that AEGEE-Burgos and AEGEE-Santander have taken the “Catania way” of naming this year: “YABADABASU!” is their title. We also see that more and more locals stick with their previous name and go by versions or volumes or the year: “W.I.N.E. 2017: Water Isn’t Nutritious Enough”, “Fifty Shades of Blue Vol.2” or “Transsiberian Dream. On cloud 9!“ are just some examples. AEGEE-Aachen figured out that 67 characters in a word are not helping in designing the maps, and reduced last year’s longest word in an SU Name to only 24 characters this year. The word is “Streichholzschächtelchen”. Last but not least we hope that the SU “Wonders & Myths: One SU To Rule Them All” will not drive the participants completely crazy. We have to mention that also few names had to be changed, as they had an inappropriate relation to activities we would not like to promote.

Of course many SUs lead to a beach, like the one of AEGEE-Ljubljana and AEGEE-Zagreb in 2016.

GT: One of your main aims is to increase the content in SUs. You even created a compulsory task of content manager. What is that person doing and how was the feedback of the network to that new position?
SUCT: Content manager is a person who is going to receive a more personalized support from us regarding workshops, programme, activities, cooperations and so on, as we had the feeling that the main coordinator is overspammed with e-mails from us and he might miss some important information. Also we plan special guidelines for the Content Managers and some hangouts to make sure that they know what counts as tuition hours and what is contentful programme.

GT: How many SUs are offered for people with disabilities?
SUCT: We try to be as open for everyone, and encourage everyone to apply for every SU. Therefore, you will currently not find a sign that says “Suitable for disabled people” on our Website, because it might make people feel like they are not welcome on all the others. Yes, if you go hiking, it might not be wheelchair friendly, but we are optimistic that proper descriptions will make applicants understand if it is the right SU for them.

GT: Last year saw a major and highly praised improvement of the website. Anything new or interesting coming up this year?
SUCT: Thanks for the compliment! The website this year will be in many parts the same, but we are working on many details. One criticized aspect was the fact that information is hard to find, and indeed it is hard to find everything you need.

The Summer University of AEGEE-Udine dealt with the situation of refugees and got the best evaluation result.

GT: Also the general SU video was pretty good. Are you preparing new cool PR materials for the network?
SUCT: Rali loves visuals and she is putting a lot of effort into making the amounts of information digestible for everyone. Apart from that, the main materials will be the usual ones: maps, posters, materials for social media. However, we have cool and useful merchandising planned again!

GT: How is the cooperation in the SUCT? You continue with nearly the same team?
SUCT: We all see the benefits and drawbacks of having 50% of the team staying – the input of the old members is invaluable and it makes sure mistakes are kept to a minimum.  On the other side, we have all been in teams where you first have to find your position, and know how it is to be lost in the beginning. What we can say however is that our humour matches up to 71,4 % and this makes working together very relaxed.

In Samara the participants even went to a rocket launch site.

GT: This year started with the first of five Mini SUPS. This is a new concept and the first one has already been finished. What is your general conclusion ?
SUCT: So far we have to say that the first SUPS in Berlin was really successful and it motivated us even more for the other SUPS. We had 20 very active participants, eager to learn as much as possible, even offering cutting off coffee breaks, just to hear more from our experience. You will be able to read more about the SUPS in a special edition of GT article soon.

GT: Is it still possible to apply for such a SUPS?
SUCT: Unfortunately no.

GT: How is the SUpporters Interest Group contributing to your work?
SUCT: The SUpporters help in fields like translation, design and correcting texts, but there is one thing that will be the main work this year: the preparation of the 30th anniversary of the Summer University Project! This weekend we had interesting brainstorming sessions and got amazing input on the possibilities that can be used for the celebrations. We will do our best to make the celebration next year amazing!

With Summer Universities you can go to places which you would not discover otherwise – like during the SU of AEGEE-Gdansk and AEGEE-Katowice.

GT: Will you also put the polar bear on your promotional materials this time?
SUCT: “Same procedure as every year, James”. For the non-Germans, you might want to watch “Dinner for One”.

GT: Anything else you would like to add?
SUCT: Indeed we would like to use this opportunity to show our love for the Soviet Union and proudly present our new domain: aegee.su! The idea had been presented last year, but we didn’t implement it, and due to the help of Casper Renting it became a reality this year! While it looks like just a gimmick, it allows us to create simpler URLs that one can remember, such as “organizer.aegee.su”, “outgoing.aegee.su” or “apply.aegee.su”.

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