Another Agora at the seaside: In just 52 days the spring Agora 2015, the AgorAsturias, will start. It will actually not take place in the city of the organizing antenna, AEGEE-Oviedo, but 30 kilometres further on, in the coast city Gijón – in a truly beautiful building (see the location photo on top). Until the 16th of February you have still time to apply for the second statutory event this year in Spain. Main Agora coordinator Alberto Cuesta Noriega told the Golden Times why you should not miss it: “We are preparing many nice surprises for participants!”

Agora Gijon Alberto
Alberto Cuesta Noriega

GT: Alberto, how are the Agora preparations going?
Alberto Cuesta Noriega: So far most of the most important things are already arranged, like the gym or the plenary place, or the social programme, for which we are preparing some nice surprises… We are still negotiating with some catering companies to get the best food possible.

GT: How many hours do you spend per day on organising the Agora?
Alberto: Right now I am all day doing something related to the Agora when I am not babysitting my niece.

GT: The application period ends soon, on the 16th of February. How many applicants are you accepting?
Alberto: We have space for 1200 people, so let’s say we can accept everybody who wants to come! Let’s see if we can get that many applications!

Agora Gijon plenary virtual
The huge plenary hall – a picture from the virtual tour on the building’s website.

GT: What can you tell us about the logistics? Is the accommodation far away from the plenary and workshop building?
Alberto: The accommodation is about five minutes by bus from the building where plenaries and workshops will take place, in Gijón. Walking is an option for the early birds, also since it takes about 20 minutes probably.

GT: Where will people sleep?
Alberto: We will sleep in the main sports arena of Gijón. This means we will have plenty of toilets and showers: six big changing rooms with 12 showers each! That will hopefully help making all the wake up-shower-breakfast-moving to plenary process in the morning faster.

AgorAsturias logo
The AgorAsturias logo

GT: Why is the motto: “Never stop dreaming”?
Alberto: It actually started with a sentence in the promo video we played at Agora Patra, where it describes the feeling of being from Asturias and how people from there are. And we thought it showed quite well how we started with the idea of organising the Agora. It also is a good motto to commemorate the 30th anniversary of AEGEE, because thanks to the dreams of many AEGEEans we achieved and still achieve many great things.

GT: Is the Agora fever rising in your antenna? Do you already get nervous phone calls from other organisers at night?
Alberto: I am fortunately a calm person. All these years in the Chair Team, I think I have proven myself to control stress quite well, when things were not working. I have always taken difficult situations with a positive attitude and now it is the same, and luckily this is transmitted to the rest of the team. Although of course there are things to worry about we are still not in panic.

GT: How does being former Chair help you in organising the Agora?
Alberto: Well, probably it helps Chair and CD more than myself, since I know beforehand almost everything what they are going to need or ask for. İt helped me when planning it, going to the venues and checking if they had all what we needed, also being in so many Agorae helped.

GT: When and how did you get the idea for applying for the Agora?
Alberto: A long time ago, after Agora Leiden in 2010. It was my first Agora and after coming back home I started asking about the Agora and found out that AEGEE-Oviedo was close to present a very strong candidature for organising the 25th anniversary Agora – which then took place in Leiden instead. Anyone in my antenna can tell that since then I have been talking about organising Spring agora 2015. It seems in the end dreams come true.

Agora Gijon map
The Agora location on the map

GT: What do you take as inspiration for your Agora from previous Agoras you visited?
Alberto: A bit from all of them. There is no perfect Agora, all of them have had their good things – so from my own experience and the experience of many of the members of the team we are trying to implement the best things we have learnt from past Agorae.

GT: Where are Oviedo and Gijón – and how can you get there?
Alberto: Ovıedo is in the north of Spain, it is the capıtal city of the Principality of Asturias. The actual Agora will take place in Gijon, the biggest city of the region, which is at the seaside. There are many ways to reach Asturias. There are low-cost flights from Barcelona with Vueling, apart from the flights you can get with AEGEE-Barcelona, Santander is very close and has lot of connections with Ryanair, Madrid is five hours by bus and there are several buses every day connecting Madrid and Gijon… But the best way to learn everything is to have a look at the section on “how to get to the Agora” on our website.

Agora Gijon organisers and hellpers
Some of the more than 60 organisers and helpers

GT: Your antenna has a long tradition and big importance. What can you tell us about it?
Alberto: Well, there is a lot to tell about the history of AEGEE-Oviedo since 1988… Probably the most amazing one is that it has been the biggest antenna ever in AEGEE with more than 2000 members in the early 90s; or that also back in that time AEGEE-Oviedo was writing, printing and sending the first Newsbulletins by mail to all locals in Europe! Also, despite being an antenna in a small region in the north of Spain, we have got always a lot of motivated members really involved in the association, some CD members, Netcom members, project managers…

GT: Impressive! How big is your organizing team?
Alberto: Right now including helpers we are more than 60, mainly thanks to the amazing response we had to the open call issued by our HR team, which managed to get 70 applications.

Agora Gijon Alberto PK
Alberto during a press conference for the Agora

GT: Which major things still need to be arranged in the next two months?
Alberto: To finish negotiating with catering companies. That is probably the only big thing left, we already have some good offers and have to think about it and decide for the best. Also we are still having meetings with authorities, so hopefully we will get some more help from different institutions.

GT: What expects us at the opening?
Alberto: That’s a secret! You can expect of course some traditional Asturian music and hopefully some cider tasting after it.

GT: How will the parties be? Can you tell us the themes?
Alberto: We have just arranged the locations and conditions, and we are now working on what to do in each place, so for now I cannot tell anything, because we still don’t know.

GT: Can people bring their local drinks to the European Night?
Alberto: We are planning to implement the same policy as during the last Agorae. We are allowing it, but with the condition that it has to be given to the organisers beforehand. Mainly because drinking in the gym will be strictly forbidden and drinking on the streets is also forbidden.

Agora post event
Agora post-event by the organisers: visit the “comida en la calle”

GT: Should the participants bring more time to visit also Oviedo?
Alberto: Not only Oviedo, but Asturias in general! We are a region, which is completely different from what people expect in Spain. You only need to see the promo video of agorAsturias or any of the videos in our Youtube channel to see it. Plus, we are preparing some interesting activities and discounts for our participants, like surfing or a huge celebration that takes place on the 6th of April, right after the Agora, in Avilies, a town less than half an hour far from Gijon, called “comida en la calle”. Literally it means eating on the streets, which is a traditional celebration very popular in the region and considered being of national touristic interest. So definitely, those who come should stay a bit longer!

Apply now!

GT: Which pre- or post-events take place?
Alberto: There are for sure right now two pre-events, the one from AEGEE Barcelona, called “Play it again AEGEE”, and the one from AEGEE Zaragoza: “Super maños 4”. For more info about both of them and any other that may come you can check the pre-events section on our website.

GT: Will the Agora be the end of your AEGEE career?
Alberto: Most probably yes.

GT: Anything else you would like to add?
Alberto: Apply! We are preparing many nice surprises for our participants. Like something that many times I’ve wished to have myself in Agorae like an alternative plan for people who don’t want to party – or can’t. Also the venues where plenaries and workshops will take place are worth the visit, even the cafeteria! It is a huge amazing building.

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