The last SU of 2016 finished last week. 70 courses took place this year – the Summer University Coordination Team visited 21 of them and is currently busy with the reports and evaluations. The Golden Times asked the four elected SUCT members Lucia Gavulová, Carolina Alfano, Yevgeniya Gagarkina and Philipp Blum about their impressions of this year’s edition of the project. “The antennae and how they organize events is very diverse over the network – and if there is one thing that we can learn, is that there’s not a single correct way to do things”, concludes the SUCT. But also: “What we observed is that the amount of content on Summer Universities is, on average, still very low.”
GT: Are you satisfied with the quality of this year’s Summer Universities in general?
SUCT: It is still too early to conclude whether we will be satisfied or not, we are still waiting for reports and evaluations from participants. However, based on our SUCT trips and some other communication, we can say that as every year, there were some outstanding and some weaker SUs. In general the biggest issue is to include attractive content – besides culture and history topics – and we have to work on this more. Overall we can say that all 70 SUs finished successfully, the participants had all what is required and based on the pictures that we saw all across social media we can say that they all participants fostered European integration and had the summer of their lives. And that is the main goal.
GT: Your team visited some SUs yourself. How many did each of you visit?
SUCT: Yes, indeed! In total we visited 21 SUs, so around a third of all SUs! Carolina and Lucia each visited seven, Yevgeniya six and Philipp three. We would really like to thank to all organizers for their warm welcomes and to all participants for including us within them! We really enjoyed our SUCT trips and we truly believe it had some impact on the future development of the project – and that it also helped a few SUs in particular.
GT: What did you learn during the tour? Which were your strongest impressions? Anything or any SU which impressed you in particular?
SUCT: After years and many events in AEGEE, there is still so much to discover! The antennae and how they organize events is very diverse over the network – and if there is one thing that we can learn, is that there’s not a single correct way to do things. The network is full of different approaches, ideas and people, which is really good. Though also this is why everything is really complicated to compare – the SU which someone finds boring is definitely brilliant for another bright AEGEEan.
GT: In the past the quality of the content of SUs was often criticized. For a good reason?
SUCT: What we observed is that the amount of content on Summer Universities is, on average, still very low. People seem to see content as a burden, while we believe that around two hours a day shouldn’t be a problem. Yet, the sessions we could attend weren’t of bad quality at all, so, it really depends how you want to see it, both participants and organizers.
GT: What can or must be done to improve the programme quality in the future?
SUCT: As SUCT, we try our best to understand the needs of participants and the possibilities of organizers, while picturing the project as something valuable for AEGEE. We are AEGEEans, and we are not going to be “just a travel agency”. We will have a hangout session, and we also applied for a Progress Meeting during the Agora, as well as sessions at Network Meetings. We hope to get some valuable input in how we can make content more attractive.
GT: A few SUs were cancelled. Which were those and why?
SUCT: Indeed a few were cancelled. The organisers in Izmir, Adana and Canakkale decided to cancel their SU because of terrorist attacks and threats in their country. Sadly, the SUs in Chisinau and Ploiesti were also cancelled – based on very low number of applications which would make the event not organizable based on economic situation. Although, all of them welcomed members who already had bought flights and arranged small unofficial events for them. In the end we had 70 SUs which took place.
GT: The number of applicants has decreased in the past years. What can be done to reverse the trend?
SUCT: We obtained more than 3000 applications for a little more than 2000 available places, which is not that much different from last year. One general reason for the shrinking numbers of applications might be that traveling became very easy and cheap, just using low cost airlines, car sharing or couchsurfing. Since all info are available on the Internet, people don’t need to involve third parties into their travel plans.
GT: Your term in the SUCT is coming to an end soon. Are you happy with your work?
SUCT: It is really hard to evaluate our own work and we think it would be more appropriate to ask the network how satisfied they are. We created hangouts and other possibilities for everybody who want to leave some feedback or evaluation. Of course, we will be available during the Agora for any kind of comments, but in general we are happy with all the changes we implemented, with our new website, which is finally mobile friendly, with open calls open for everybody and so on.
GT: How was the cooperation in your team?
SUCT: We love our team! We gave each other some nicknames and our team dynamics worked really well. Our Facebook chat is active 24/7 and we have a lot of fun also during our regular hangouts. I guess none of us expected back in Kyiv that we will fit so well, since we didn’t know each other before. We managed to meet three times live since Agora Kyiv and still one meeting is waiting for us at Agora Chisinau. Although – it is going to be the last one and we are very much going to miss our team…
GT: Can you relax now or do you still have some work until the Agora?
SUCT: Relax in SUCT? Never! We are coming to maybe one of the busiest periods of our work – evaluations, reports, photo contest, new official video together with SUpporters, preparations for the Agora, searching for new candidates and preparations for the knowledge transfer, which we promised to make really good. Honestly, we are going to work our pretty asses off to finish all things on time! Moreover, we started preparations for the new edition of the Summer University Project School, since we believe that new motivated organisers should obtain knowledge already in winter.
GT: Anything you would like to add?
SUCT: If you haven’t been on an SU, go! It is definitely a lifetime experience, or, as we call it: the Summer Of Your Life!