You like good wine, delicious food, gorgeous landscapes with castles on the picturesque Loire River and cities with a rich historical background? Then you should visit Angers. It has never been so easy as today, because two weeks ago a group of super energetic students started a new AEGEE Contact there. Find out more about them in this interview with two of their founders: Laura Blake and Léocadie Duveau.

Golden Times: When and how did you hear about AEGEE for the first time?
Laura Blake: I first heard about AEGEE last October, here in Angers, while talking with Nicola Corzani from AEGEE-Bologna!
Léocadie Duveau: I discovered AEGEE in January thanks to Laura Blake.

GT: What was your very first impression of AEGEE when you heard about it? Was it fascinating, strange, complicated, something you always had been waiting for?
Laura Blake: Since nothing like that existed in Angers, I immediately felt excited at the very idea we could build something so huge, new and useful! But at the same time I was also worried about all the work to do.
Léocadie Duveau: Well, first of all, I found it very complicated when I heard about AEGEE’s organization: Agora, Board of directors and so on. Then I googled it, and I was fascinated by all the projects in progress and the dynamism of the organization at the European Level.

Upper row, from left to right: Laura Blake, Laura Farci, Bastien Martel. Second row: Léocadie Duveau, Agathe Niveleau, Quentin Meux.

GT: What motivated you to join AEGEE? The political climate of new nationalism? The chance to get to know Europe better? The possibility to organise your own projects? Or anything else?
Laura Blake: There are two main reasons that pushed me to join AEGEE! First, the desire to say out loud “We are European!” and to make Angers known at a European level. And secondly, the possibility of meeting young people from all over the Europe and creating a super amazing network while travelling at a cheap price at the same time!
Léocadie Duveau: AEGEE combines two characteristics: the possibility to create a place to initiate a debate about Europe and the possibility to do it in a pleasant atmosphere. Then, I think people can feel far from Europe – both literally and figuratively. In Angers, which is situated in the middle west of France, people don’t cross borders each morning. Finally, becoming AEGEE members allows us to organise our own projects in Angers, but also at the European level or to participate in them.

GT: What did you have to do before becoming a contact?
Laura Blake: Well, at the beginning we needed a huge amount of information for planning our to-do list and for this reason we contacted Lila Quaile, the President of AEGEE-Paris. Afterwards, we worked on developing partnerships, both with La Maison de L’Europe – thanks to Bastien Martel – and with the Fé2a, the Angers Student Federation – thanks to Romain Verdin. In addition to this, we also gathered the support of many private and public local universities. Little by little our family became bigger, when Agathe Niveleau, Laura Farci, Léocadie Duveau and Quentin Meux joined us, and we collected so many exciting ideas for our future projects!

GT: When did you officially become a contact?
Laura Blake: On the 13th of June 2018!

GT: You had an information meeting on 18th of June. How did that go?
Laura Blake: Pretty well! We were about 15 and we had the pleasure to welcome Corentin Guerin, the President of AEGEE-Lille, who furthermore is Angevin! That’s how we call the inhabitants from Angers. The majority of the participants didn’t know about AEGEE, but we explained what the association is about, which are our projects in Angers and when we are going to start the recruitment. They were highly interested and I hope that we will succeed in motivating them to join us. We held the meeting at the university library and at the end we moved to a bar, where we collected other questions from the participants.

GT: How many members do you have right now?
Laura Blake: We are a team of six and we are super motivated! Let me present them to you:

  • Agathe Niveleau, 24 years-old
  • Bastien Martel, 23 years-old
  • Laura Blake, 21 years-old
  • Laura Farci, 23 years-old and the only non-French member
  • Léocadie Duveau, 23 years-old
  • Quentin Meux.

Moreover, Romain Martel and Tidda Fofana are members of the Fé2a. They will act as a link between our association and theirs.

GT: Did you and some of your members already attend an AEGEE event?
Laura Blake: Yes, one of our members, Laura Farci, has been confirmed for the TSU organised by the antennae of Cluj-Napoca and Ploiesti. She applied as member of AEGEE-Cagliari, which has been her home antenna for four years, but she promised to spread around her new Sardinian-French culture during the whole event!

GT: Do you think it is difficult to find members in your city?
Laura Blake: To be honest, not so much! All we need is to implement a massive communication within the campus and on the Internet! There are 35,000 students in Angers and 12% are foreign students: some people might be motivated, don’t you agree?

GT: What will be the first activity that you want to organise in your city with AEGEE?
Laura Blake: Our first activity will be an intense welcome week! From the 10th to the 16th of September 2018, we are organizing different activities: a city tour, a picnic near the river La Maine, some parties… With this we will welcome foreign students coming to Angers just at the beginning of their semester! Integrating them in our city is our main purpose.

GT: Why should AEGEE members from all over Europe visit you and your city?
Laura Blake: There are plenty of reasons for coming in Angers! Good wine, delicious food, gorgeous landscapes with castles on the picturesque Loire River, nice people and a rich historical background! And to discover the “softness of Anjou”.

GT: Are you going to attend some AEGEE events in summer and autumn?
Laura Blake: Not only that! Together with AEGEE-Paris, we are wholeheartedly looking forward to welcoming you at our Network Meeting in Angers in Autumn, if our application is successful!

GT: A few words about you: how old are you, what do you study?
Laura Blake: I am 21 years old and currently attending my 3rd year of medical school in Angers. I was born in Angers and spent all my life here. My father is American, so I have the double nationality. I discovered Europe with Comenius, the former little brother of Erasmus, thanks to which I went into a Spanish high school in Valladolid. I’ve always been passionate about foreign languages and I love travelling. My dream is to work abroad as a doctor in the future.

GT: What other hobbies do you have besides AEGEE?
Laura Blake: My greatest passions are: acting and going to the theatre, playing the accordion, reading, travelling, discovering new cultures and, last but not least, spending good moments with friends and family.

Check the Facebook page of Contact Anger!