SUPS 2017: Five Trainings, 90 Participants and many better SUs

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Berlin, Voronezh, Las Pal­mas, Tar­tu and Skop­je: these great cities host or host­ed Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Projects School this year. In these three-day events more than 90 par­tic­i­pants learn every­thing to organ­ise great Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ties. Three of the five train­ings have already fin­ished, the fourth one in Tar­tu start­ed today. The Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Coor­di­na­tion Team (SUCT) told the Gold­en Times how fan­tas­tic the events were so far.

The SUCT

GT: This year the SUCT organ­is­es five small SU Project Schools. Three of these SUPS have already fin­ished, the fourth one is tak­ing place right now. What was your moti­va­tion to intro­duce this new con­cept?
SUCT: Train­ing moti­vat­ed but inex­pe­ri­enced mem­bers to organ­ise high qual­i­ty Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ties, which are rich in con­tent, is the key to suc­cess of whole project. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, in past years we have noticed a decreas­ing num­ber of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the clas­sic Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Project School, an event which lasts for an entire week and costs about 100 Euros with­out trav­els. There­fore we took a risk and intro­duced a not so new con­cept of short­er SUPS avail­able for more par­tic­i­pants – they are cheap­er and clos­er to every­body, with­out the need of tak­ing a whole week off.

GT: Great idea, but what about all the con­tent?
SUCT: Some­body might think that con­tent has to suf­fer because of such change, but we believe that this is not the case! We still man­aged to imple­ment around 26 hours of the most nec­es­sary ses­sions, includ­ing a very inter­ac­tive and pop­u­lar SU Case Study.

SUPS Las Pal­mas

GT: Where are the events tak­ing place, by the way?
SUCT: The first SUPS took place in Berlin from 19th till 22nd of Jan­u­ary, fol­lowed by events in Voronezh and Las Pal­mas. Today, one SUPS is start­ing in Tar­tu and the last one will hap­pen in March in Skop­je.

GT: Are you sat­is­fied with the events so far?
SUCT: Yes, very much! And accord­ing to the eval­u­a­tions of the par­tic­i­pants — anony­mous but also open ones — they are sat­is­fied as well! So far we trained 53 par­tic­i­pants and approx­i­mate­ly 40 more are about to be trained.

GT: How many par­tic­i­pants take part in a reg­u­lar SUPS and how many take part in the five small SUPS?
SUCT: They are designed for train­ing the same num­ber: 25 par­tic­i­pants. If we organ­ise five short ones instead of one long one, we deliv­er train­ings to more peo­ple, even if only half of par­tic­i­pants arrive. The actu­al amount of par­tic­i­pants this year var­ied between 10 and 22 so far, and we have to say that a small group is much eas­i­er to han­dle.

The weath­er in Las Pal­mas allowed to do work­shops also out­side and enjoy the sun in Feb­ru­ary!

GT: These events are short in num­ber of days, but intense every sin­gle day. Can you tell us more about the struc­ture?
SUCT: We have approx­i­mate­ly nine hours of ses­sions every day, but all of them are very inter­ac­tive and involve every sin­gle par­tic­i­pant. As a last ses­sion before the eval­u­a­tion and open space, we imple­ment­ed a Case Study, where the par­tic­i­pants put all the obtained knowl­edge to prac­tice and work as one SU organ­is­ing team, under time pres­sure, exter­nal stress and solv­ing prob­lems very quick­ly. The nor­mal ses­sions include every­thing what an organ­is­er has to know: team man­age­ment, con­tent man­age­ment, par­tic­i­pants’ man­age­ment, logis­tics, pub­lic speak­ing, bud­get­ing, FR, PR, how to give and receive feed­back and much more. Dur­ing the incom­ing and depar­ture day the par­tic­i­pants have time to see the city and relax a bit as well. One thing that was not imple­ment­ed on all SUPS were reflec­tion groups — all par­tic­i­pants were split into small­er groups, each with one train­er, where they could give their very per­son­al feed­back about the day, the pro­gramme and the per­son­al feel­ings. It took quite some time, but it for sure made the whole event more per­son­al.

Case study: exam­ple of an offline e-mail to a fake AEGEE local — coop­er­a­tions every­where!

GT: The case­work is an essen­tial part. What kind of tasks did the teams have to solve?
SUCT: The over­all task was, of course, to organ­ise a Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty. The par­tic­i­pants were dis­trib­uted into teams and giv­en fake AEGEE locals with their descrip­tions and each 5 to 20 min­utes a new task appeared. Some of them were obvi­ous — pro­gramme, bud­get, name and so on — and some of them made them to think and act, for exam­ple: “Write a FR mail and then come for the FR meet­ing” or “Give a pre­sen­ta­tion of your SU on a NWM” or “Solve a sud­den con­flict”. Also, as every­where, the teams were not sure of spam, so they had to deal with this as well.

SUPS Voronezh

GT: How did they deal with the immense time pres­sure?
SUCT: The clock was tick­ing mer­ci­less­ly and the par­tic­i­pants rarely took a break to pee, but they were very much into their roles and did a great job! Of course, not every group fin­ished every­thing, but as they were on their own and got no tips from train­ers, they saw many of the aspects it takes to orga­nize, from form­ing a team and task dis­tri­b­u­tion to writ­ing a lot of text in a short time. In the end, almost every­one would have liked to con­tin­ue.

GT: For sure the par­tic­i­pants and case teams impressed you with some orig­i­nal ideas. Can you name some?
SUCT: We loved how cre­ative par­tic­i­pants can be when it comes to names, such as “How low can you go to get high” or with con­tent ideas – for exam­ple the “Inter­cul­tur­al study about cit­i­zens of Slo­va­kia, Aus­tria, Czech and Hun­gary”. There were also very fun­ny PR ideas, such as draw­ing logos on papers and putting in mem­o­ry envelopes to oth­er par­tic­i­pants or cre­at­ing real Face­book group to pro­mote their fake SU. Also, some groups start­ed to inter­act and col­lab­o­rate between each oth­er and using pos­si­ble AEGEE bod­ies like PRC to cre­ate their designs.

SUPS Berlin

GT: Euro­pean School are also famous for lots of fun­ny moments. Can you share some with us?
SUCT: “Bueeeeeeeeeeh!”, “Silen­ci­u­u­u­u­u­um!”, “Who is Niko­la Tes­la?” Guess you had to be there……

GT: How many train­ers do you need for such a mini SUPS?
SUCT: We set from the begin­ning the bar low: one SUCT rep­re­sen­ta­tive and two train­ers. But hon­est­ly, the more par­tic­i­pants you have, the more train­ers you need. The train­ers we have are amaz­ing peo­ple, but all of them changed into a tired zom­bie after. One would not believe how hard teach­ing is! In Berlin we man­aged to have five train­ers and it was just amaz­ing! Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we can­not afford this amount for each SUPS.

Shar­ing best prac­tices in Berlin

GT: Did you write the pro­gramme from scratch or did you have some good mod­els to build upon?
SUCT: We brain­stormed with­in SUCT and with train­ers from last year, draft­ed a pro­gramme and showed it to each team of train­ers. In the end, after many, many online meet­ings, each SUPS mod­i­fied this pro­gramme based on the needs of the par­tic­i­pants and the expe­ri­ence of train­ers. At each SUPS there SUCT mem­bers were train­ers.

GT: Did you par­ty hard?
SUCT: Obvi­ous­ly! But no one was snor­ing dur­ing the ses­sions, and every­one was almost on time! Anoth­er advan­tage of a short­er event — it’s sur­viv­able with lit­tle sleep.

Do you rec­og­nize which asso­ci­a­tion uses this Visu­al Iden­ti­ty? Hint: Not Coca Cola ;-)

GT: You also accept­ed peo­ple from BEST. Were they able to con­tribute and did they also learn some­thing?
SUCT: Yes, in total we have four peo­ple from BEST attend­ing SUPS. They con­tributed in every sin­gle work­shop and for sure they learned some­thing they can use in organ­is­ing BEST events. And who knows, maybe SUs will be avail­able for BESTies as helpers as well? P.S.: One of them became AEGEE mem­ber dur­ing the event!

GT: Any­thing else you would like to add?
SUCT: We would like to thank all organ­is­ers who ensured a smooth process and peace­ful places for our intense work­shops and organ­ised the most awe­some par­ties. And we would like to thank all train­ers who sac­ri­ficed their free time in order to cre­ate a fresh group of moti­vat­ed organ­is­ers! If you are think­ing of organ­is­ing an SU next year, do not hes­i­tate and apply for next years’ SUPS. Ask one of the par­tic­i­pants and we are sure they are going to rec­om­mend it!

 

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