On 16th of December 2020 AEGEE-Europe announced great news: AEGEE is back in Rotterdam! Europe’s most important harbour city has actually a long AEGEE tradition. The first AEGEE antenna lasted from 1988 to 2010 and again from 2011 to 2015. “Third time’s a Charm”, they say, and so the new Contact’s board of Marijana Asprovska, Sabine de Man and Steffanie Hart is working hard to re-establish an antenna in Rotterdam. “We want to sign the Convention d’Adhesion on the upcoming Online Spring Agora 2021”, the board members told the Golden Times.

Golden Times: Who had the idea to re-found AEGEE-Rotterdam? How did you get involved?
Contact Rotterdam: There were a few old board members who still had some money left in the foundation from the old AEGEE-Rotterdam. They contacted the CD, who in turn contacted the Network Commission and from there the ball started rolling. We got involved because members of the task force who were setting up the base of the contact, contacted us if we wanted to get involved. After a while, we needed to form a board, and that board became the three of us!

GT: You are an experienced team. Who are the board members and what’s your AEGEE background?
Contact Rotterdam: We have three board members: Marijana Asprovska is the president, Sabine de Man is the secretary general and Steffanie Hart is the treasurer. We are originally from AEGEE-Skopje, AEGEE-Leiden and AEGEE-Groningen respectively, so the AEGEE spirit is not new to us.

Rotterdam harbour. Photo by Leon-Willems, Port of Rotterdam Authority

GT: How many members do you have in total?
Contact Rotterdam: Currently we have 15 members, thanks to our recruitment process!

GT: What motivates you to revive the antenna?
Contact Rotterdam: Rotterdam is a very lively student city with a lot of international students. AEGEE connects people, and in times like these, we thought it would be a great opportunity to offer them to be able to become a member of the AEGEE network!

Two of the biggest legends of the original AEGEE-Rotterdam: Jaap Commijs & Koen G. Berden (in the centre: former AEGEE-Europe President Karina Häuslmeier) in 2000.

GT: None of the board members actually lives in Rotterdam. Doesn’t make this the challenge quite hard? How well do you know Rotterdam?
Contact Rotterdam: That’s true! The fact that everything is online makes it easier now. But, two of the board members are familiar with Rotterdam: Sabine grew up in the area, and Steffanie is a student at the Erasmus University.

GT: How do you approach the challenge to reestablish this once famous antenna? How do you want to make it known and find members?
Contact Rotterdam: It is obviously slightly different to revive an antenna in a pandemic, as if without one was not difficult enough already. Luckily, we are indeed not starting from zero, but rather from a solid 0.5! We are in touch with several old generations of board members and the internal information and advice we get are priceless. They are very excited that we are in the process of reviving the local. They are helping us out by brainstorming with us and by digging up old documents and accounts of the old local. The plan for now is to accumulate all this information and implement activities both online and physically.

GT: You had several zoom events in March. Can you tell us more about them?
Contact Rotterdam: The zoom events were part of our recruitment period – and were a success! We gave people a taste of what AEGEE can be and made them enthusiastic about it.

GT: Which physical events do you want to organise in Rotterdam when it’s possible?
Contact Rotterdam: We would love to have social drinks, maybe a picnic in the park or anything similar that can still be in line with the restrictions. If the situation allows, we would love to have an exchange with a nearby local in person as well.

GT: What can you tell us about Rotterdam and the university in three sentences?
Contact Rotterdam: The Erasmus University of Rotterdam has quite a strict policy on organizations it supports formally and officially which makes it an extra burden to get out there and make the AEGEE name known among students. But we were somewhat aware of it already, and instead of focusing on what we cannot do, we decided to focus on what we can do at this moment. Once we grow big enough, we will get the chance to be registered at the university which will be an extra boost for the next generations of AEGEEans in Rotterdam.

GT: When do you want to sign the Convention d’Adhesion?
Contact Rotterdam: Definitely on the upcoming Online Spring Agora 2021. We are already ready!

GT: Question for your president. Marijana, is this your last task in AEGEE?
Marijana: Haha, I think my hobby is planning to leave AEGEE and then getting involved in something new every year. I am saying ‘yes, it will be my last task in AEGEE’ but there is a part of me that also doesn’t believe that…

GT: Anything you would like to add?
Contact Rotterdam: Feel free to contact us via email at contact-rotterdam@aegee.eu and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

The new board. From left to right: Steffanie Hart (Treasurer), Marijana Asprovska (President) and Sabine de Man (Secretary)