750 participants, four days of countless workshops, prytannia and meetings, long plenaries and long parties – summarising an Agora in a few words is impossible. The AEGEE Golden Times picked 30 outstanding moments that the participants will remember. In case you want to see more: check out the Golden Times selection here (342 pictures): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.435054069885431.100761.264520126938827&type=1

Moment 1: CD goes Gangnam Style

It was without doubt that Gangnam Style would become the song on the Agora. The CD was dancing it on Thursday morning in the plenary, it was used as energiser and vice-chair Thomas Leszke had to dance it on the final day in order to get his stolen hammer back. Gangnam Style was also the very last song in the last party.


Moment 2: Commemoration of Franck Biancheri

Right before the Agora we all received the sad news that AEGEE founder Franck Biancheri passed away, aged 51, after battling cancer for four years. The Agora commemorated him during the opening ceremony on Wednesday night with a minute of silence. At several occasions people said at the microphone that the spirit of the founder will live on. The CD placed a commemoration book in front of the plenary hall. Many people signed it or wrote how they felt about Biancheri’s untimely death.


Moment 3: Burcu Becermen becomes honorary member

Finally: After being proposed for Honorary Membership already at Agora Istanbul in 2010, Burcu Becermen accepted the honor in Budapest after being nominated by the CD for a second time. Burcu, who started her AEGEE career more than ten years in AEGEE-Ankara, was project manager of the highly successful project “Turkish-Greek Civic Dialogue” and was President of AEGEE-Europe – elected with the highest percentage ever. Burcu became the 15th honorary member during the final plenary on Saturday. AEGEE-Europe President Luis Alvarada Martinez in his nomination speech: “Burcu is a member who can make the difference. She is a person with the power to move an Agora.”


Moment 4: Helpful local organisers

Agora Budapest was a very smooth Agora. Whatever you needed something done and asked an organiser, he or she helped fast and efficient – and with a smile. The team of main organiser Márton Demeter was well-prepared and really hard-working.


Moment 5: High-ranking video messages

European Commission President Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Martin Schulz: the top of the EU sent AEGEE video greetings. This has never happened before. It showed very clearly that the recent attempts of the CDs to create more visibility in the EU was very successful. AEGEE gets noticed again!


Moment 6: AEGEE Identity Discussions

It’s an old dilemma: how to explain AEGEE to potential member in a few words? AEGEE is for all faculties, it has countless activities – it a real European integration supermarket. You just go in and choose whatever aspect you like best. This strength is AEGEE’s weakness: since everyone has a different perception of AEGEE, not everyone shares the same ideals. The CD started a consultation process with its members – the resulting discussions were definitely an Agora highlight.


Moment 7: Full Plenaries, Bad Acoustics

Agora Budapest will be remembered as most popular Agora ever. More than 1720 applicants competed for only 700 places. This means: a lot of delegates were present, which resulted in very full plenaries. The place was so little in the plenary hall, that some participants were following it via video stream in a nearby auditorium. The great Agora location had one disadvantage though: the acoustics were not good. People in the last rows could not follow well.


Moment 8: Great AEGEE Fair

The AEGEE Fair becomes more and more a highlight with every new Agora. Lots of project teams, working groups and AEGEE bodies presented themselves – and got new members. The interest was so high that more time should be allocated to the fair at the next Agora.


Moment 9: Wifi or no Wifi?

“Do you have Internet?” “No.” This was a standard conversation on Thursday in the plenary. The Agora organisers gave everyone the chance to enjoy free wifi. However, since so many used it, no one could use it properly. Starting from Friday the Internet worked a lot better.


Moment 10: Halloween Night

The Agora parties were a lot of fun. It became tradition recently that Agora parties have a motto. In Budapest these were the “Suit up party”, the “Bad hair party”, the “Flag party” and the “Halloween party” on Friday night. While not many people suited up on Wednesday, at the Halloween party a lot of people spent great effort on dressing up or to look scary. Big compliment for the costumes! However: the music at the parties could have been better.


Moment 11: Motions of Madness

A few weeks before the Agora Juridical Commission president Denise announced her resignation for personal reasons. She wrote that the task was not what she expected, without going into detail. For some people this was not satisfactory. They issued a “Motion of Sadness”, condemning Denise for her step. Some people stressed that this was not the first resignation on European level: AEGEE also witnessed the resignation  of Agora chair Yvonne and of Network Commissioners. This triggered a discussion how to prevent resignations and how to secure a good knowledge transfer in case someone resigns – without clear result though, since this discussion is as old as AEGEE. Anyway: this Motion of Sadness was not the only one at the Agora. And Motion of Sadness became an ironically used term. Some people created even a Facebook group, called: Motion of Sadness, which got more than 100 fans in just three days: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Motion-of-sadness/456180297753705


Moment 12: Moving the Headoffice

The CD will move the headoffice of AEGEE-Europe soon within Brussels. 70 percent of the delegates supported this motion of the current CD. The reason for moving: the headoffice is in a very bad state: pipes are broken, walls have holes, one door cannot be locked properly, the railing at the stairs is shaky – and many more. In short: the conditions endanger the health and safety of the CD members. Moreover, the house is not representable. The CD can hardly receive any high-ranking guests there. This might affect project contacts and fund-rising. The CD hopes to be able to generate more income after moving. The CD will search for a new location now and want to move in a couple of months. The third headoffice of AEGEE-Europe – home of the association since 1998 – will soon be history.


Moment 13: Electronic Voting

Printing and sorting thousands of ballot papers, counting for hours and hours… this started to become history at Agora Budapest. For the first time AEGEE tried out an electronic voting system at the Agora. Former AEGEE-Europe president Manos Valasis wrote all specifications for the system, George Dimitrakopoulos programmed it. Then again Manos created an interface and managed the details. All delegates per local had to go to the Juridical Commission and could login to the Intranet afterwards.  Everything except the elections was done by Electronic public voting. Since elections are secret, it was not so easy to implement the system for them. Most probably next year there could be also electronic elections.


Moment 14: High Satisfaction with the CD

This Agora was a cakewalk for the CD. While the Agora in Enschede was overshadowed by a vote of confidence, this time the delegates were very pleased with the work of Luis and his team. The result were very high approval rates for activity reports, financial reports and budget updates. There was only one black spot: the CD had issued the proposal to open Summer University applications to non-AEGEE members. Since the locals have anyway a hard time to get SU places for their members, and since they were afraid that the more paying non-AEGEE members have wrong expectations, many people expressed their dissatisfaction. The CD withdrew the proposal.


Moment 15: Sleeping Beauty

Where is vice chair Thomas? This was the big question on Friday morning. Rumours that he enjoyed the previous party a lot were spreading. Finally he showed up – at 10.20. “I did not hear the wake-up call”, he said. Of course a Motion of Sadness was issued by one antenna.


Moment 16: New projects: Europe in Exchange, Health4Youth

European Projects are one of the defining element from AEGEE. People from different corners of Europe work on one common idea. At the Agora some great new initiatives were presented. “Health4Youth” is self-explanatory, “Europe in Exchange” wants to improve the quality and quantity of Erasmus support. While the first project received unanimous support, some people asked whether “Europe in Exchange” isn’t coming two years to late – after the entire budget for the next Erasmus period has been already practically decided. The project team said that the financial aspect is just one of many of the project. “Europe in Exchange” became AEGEE-Europe project with the necessary majority of votes, but failed to get the title “Flagship Project”.


Moment 17: Panel Discussion about European youth organisations

Getting thematic input in the plenary: this idea was put into practice at the spring Agora in Enschede, when AEGEE founder Franck Biancheri presented his provocative and controversial ideas of dividing AEGEE into a western and an Eastern branch with different names under a common roof. The Agora organisers in Budapest wanted to get thematic too, but instead of having one keynote speaker, they made time for a panel discussion about the impact of European youth organisations. Former Agora chair Percin Imrek chaired the stimulating discussion with AEGEE representatives and an external guest.


Moment 18: “Where does Europe end” result presentation

AEGEE’s projects have often one flaw: they are very complex and in the end lack clear results. Percin Imrek, who was not only Chair and CD member, but also manager of this project, presented very clear and interesting findings about the attitude of young people towards Europe. Germany and France are considered the most European countries by far. Culture is considered the most important criterion to make a country European (37 percent), followed by Economic development, geographical position and history. While for Southern countries culture played the biggest role, for Northern countries it was geography. Percin: “Is there a different mentality?” More of this kind of result presentations, please!


Moment 19: Great candidates

AEGEE has an incredible pool of fresh talents. Ok, sometimes they are also a bit older, like Fabian Brüggemann, who became Mediation Commission president. The MedCom is an example for the great candidates of the Agora: no doubt that Fabian, Hara Kogkou, Ermanno Napolitano and Maurits Korse will make a great team. The NetCom got five great new Network Commissioners, among the Inez Wenta (right on the photo). The highest number of candidates was for the SUCT: eight people competed for four places. The lucky winners: Gerardo García Díaz, Costas Deltouzos, Hans-Peter Bretz and Anna Kotovych. Talking about Anna: she was only one of four AEGEE-Kyiv members, who were elected at the Agora. The others: Diana Tupchiienko (Juridical Commission), Ilona Bogomolova (Audit Commission) and of course ex-CD member Alla Resheten, the new Agora Chair!


Moment 20: Bullshit bingo in the plenary

“Come on, say: fruitful”. Probably a lot of Agora delegates thought that whenever someone went to stage. However the buzzword was not said and so there was no winner in the Bullshit Bingo that some Dutch and Belgian Agora delegates played. One request: dear organisers of Agora Rhein-Neckar, please put a bullshit bingo card in the welcome package. Everyone wants to play!


Moment 21: Creation of the Language Working Group

The number of working groups is on the rise again! Just a couple of years after the interest of AEGEE in its working groups was so low that some working groups were deleted, the WGs are back and on the rise! The latest addition is the Language Working Group, which derives from the European Day of Languages project and puts this concept on a more permanent basis. Good luck, LWG!


Moment 22: Founders of AEGEE-Budapest at the Agora

The Agora had a couple of special guests. Zsuzsa Kigyós (see photo below), founding member of AEGEE-Budapest and organiser of the Agora in 1991 was equally present as Krisztina Németh, founder of the first local behind the former Iron Curtain (AEGEE-Leipzig) in 1990 and co-founder of AEGEE-Budapest in the same year. It was great to have you there!


Moment 23: Ecocide and other great workshops

A lot of Agora workshops will be remembered, but not all. Among the best was the one on the Ecocide project, an international initiative against the destruction of nature. The Environmental Working Group invited the creator of the Ecocide term, Polly Higgins, to the really full workshop, who really left a great impression (see photo). The Golden Times held its second AEGEE history workshop, this time the topic was “Go East”. The 60 participants were very much interested to learn how AEGEE spread all over Central and Eastern Europe in the past 22 years, which changed the association totally.


Moment 24: Historical Location

Talking about history: the Agora Budapest was the third Agora in the Hungarian capital after 1991 and 1995. All three were autumn Agoras and they took place in precisely the same hall in the same building, under the eyes of the statue of Karl Marx, after whom the university was named until 1990. The Agora in 1991 was the first in Central and Eastern Europe. The university building itself is truly magnificent too, and the panorama at the Danube breath-taking.


Moment 25: New locals for the network

The AEGEE network is constantly changing. Four AEGEE contacts signed the Convention d’Adhesion at the Agora and became contact antennae: Erzincan in Turkey, Ioannina and Kastoria in Greece and Lodz on Poland. A former AEGEE-Lodz had signed the Convention d’Adhesion actually already in March 1996, at the Presidents Meeting (EBM predecessor) in Eindhoven. At that time the president from Lodz did not like that the Agora Chair Johannes Kind mispronounced the name. The correct pronunciation (in English writing) would be: “vooch”. So the girl said in 1996 that she refused to sign until the whole plenary says “vooch”. After a strong “vooch” out of 300 mouths, she signed.
Back to 2012: not all CD members were singing, although they are obliged to do so, due to an Agora decision. Agora vice chair Thomas Leszke made up for it and sang very loud. Did you actually know that the tradition mof singing the Convention d’Adhesion has its origin in Budapest? At the autumn Agora in 1995, there was a spelling mistake in the Agora booklet. Instead of “signing” it was written “singing the Convention”.


Moment 26: Good and nonsense proposals

There were several useful Agora proposals: for example the CD starts its term one month earlier and the CD will move to a new house. However, most proposals were superfluous, for example the one about the deletion of the “other” board members from working groups or antennae criteria changes, where the word “shall” was replaced by “must”. The poor delegates had to attend them, wasting time that could have used better for thematic discussions, projects meetings and workshops. Very much disputed was the ban against smoking in statutory meetings, which passed with a narrow margin.


Moment 27: Amazing organisers’ video

Ok, the “thank you” orgy in the end of the Agora was very long. But the video that main organiser Márton Demeter made for his team, was absolutely marvellous. Not only because he showed children’s pictures of his core team, but also because of the other photos which showed the amazing dedication of the organisers.


Moment 28: The best SU photo

It’s great when new traditions are started. For the first time the title “Best Summer University Photo” was awarded. The winner was Esra Caliskan (AEGEE-Istanbul), who won the price with a great picture of the SU Athina, taken in Nafplio.


Moment 29: Raining balloons

And suddenly it rained balloons! During the final plenary hundreds of balloons fell down on the participants who had their fun with them. The balloons were a surprise by the organisers of Agora Budapest. After the plenary the destroyed balloons and other trash on the floor created the biggest mess at any Agora hall ever. However, this was just a small price to pay, the balloons were great!


Moment 30: Great future events organiser

After the Agora is before the Agora. The organisers of Agora Rhein-Neckar (photo), which will take place in Mannheim in April 2013, presented their team. Equally great feedback received the revelation who will organise the autumn Agora 2013. The honour goes to AEGEE-Zaragoza! Don’t forget to apply for the EBM in Valletta in February/March 2013 – the next statutory meeting looks also very promising.