In about two months the Agora in Enschede starts – from 2nd till 6th of May about 900 AEGEE members will have the chance to participate. The GOLDEN TIMES spoke with Hanke Nijman, main coordinator of the event. About 30 local organisers work hard on making the next Agora a success. Hanke: “We hope to inspire people to take action in Europe!” In case you haven’t applied yet, do it now – the deadline is 7th of March.

Golden Times: Hanke, you are main coordinator of the Agora Enschede. Can you tell us something about you in two sentences?
Hanke Nijman: I’m an active, enthusiastic master student of Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society, with quite some experience in AEGEE on local level, amongst which being a full time board member and several committees. I’m always interested in the background of people and their culture, one of the reasons why I like to do international folklore dancing in my spare time.

Golden Times: The PR for your Agora is really impressive and it looks like it’s going to be an exciting Agora. How are the preparations going so far?
Hanke: Our main organizing team is now working almost full-time at the office and the logistics and social program committees are also working really hard. Everybody is really motivated and we hope to be able to reach the set expectations.

Golden Times: Which major things still needs to be arranged, now, two months before the Agora?
Hanke: At the moment the basic things such as lodging and catering are covered and some interesting speakers have confirmed. We’re still working really hard on more funding to be able to provide for all the extras we want to offer you.

Golden Times: In your press releases you promise “A European Revolution”. What does the revolution consist of?
Hanke: AEGEE strives for a unified Europe. At the moment, Europe is facing a big challenge with the crisis and euro-scepticism. Being such a large student organisation, we think AEGEE can contribute to tackling these challenges. Being our largest gathering, the Agora is a good platform to address these topics.

Golden Times: The Agora will have a thematic part as well and you invited prominent speakers. What are you planning precisely and what are you expecting from this?
Hanke: The thematic part of the Agora can be compared to the new EBM format which we enjoyed a few weeks ago. With panel discussions and speakers we want to provide some food for thought on current topics. We hope to inspire people to take action in Europe. More information on speakers and workshops can be found at our website:

Golden Times: Can you already reveal what AEGEE founder Franck Biancheri will talk about?
Hanke: Franck Biancheri is the founder of AEGEE-Europe. For the first time since 1988, he will provide us with the great honour to speak at the Agora. This will be linked to his vision on Europe and the role AEGEE could play in the future of Europe.

Golden Times: How many people in Enschede are actually working on the Agora?
Hanke: Uhm… we have the main organising team (6 people), logistics committee (5), social program committee (5), supervisory board (8), audit commission (6) and the board of AEGEE-Enschede. The total amount of people is about 30, and then there’s the chair team and Comité Directeur.

Golden Times: How many people applied so far? And how many can maximum participate?
Hanke: At the moment, there are about 350 applications. The maximum capacity of our gyms is around 800 people, and we can fit around 900 people in the plenaryroom. There are some questions about the possibility to attend only parties. We want to make everything open to other AEGEE people, but unfortunately, some party locations have a limited capacity, and can therefore not be open to others than the participants. For example, the building of our own pub has a maximum capacity of 800 people, which will be filled by the participants.

Golden Times: Tell us about the infrastructure. Sleeping is in a gym, I guess? What can people do that don’t want to sleep in a gym?
Hanke: Indeed, sleeping will be in gyms. For people who don’t want to sleep in gyms we can recommend some hotels. Unfortunately, Enschede does not offer cheap hostels. There are some B&Bs in the city centre, but you’ll need a car or bike to come to the campus. The two hotels close to the campus are the Drienerburght, which is on the campus, and the Broeierd.

Golden Times: What about the distances to the plenary, workshop rooms. Is everything nearby?
Hanke: Everything will take place on the campus of Twente University, a campus surrounded by green and woods. Plenaries, prytania and workshops will all be in the same building, about 10 minutes walking from the gyms. Some parties will be a short bus drive away, but we will also enjoy the campus bar, which is next to the gyms.

Golden Times: What do you plan for the social programme? Sightseeing, parties, European Night…
Hanke: The arrival day is Tuesday, 1st of May, one day before the Agora starts. On that day there will be some possibilities for sightseeing. We will start the Wednesday with registration and an opening fair, were you can find the AEGEE fair, a study and career fair, the AEGEE-Enschede intro pavilion, and some nice activities, probably living pacman and we’re trying to get an inflatable castle. The parties are organised by our social program committee, which consists of former members of the pub board of AEGEE-Enschede, so they know how to organise a party! For the locations we have the campus pub, only a minute away from the gyms, an open air concert, locations in Enschede centre and last but not least, our own pub, the only pub owned and run by AEGEEans, Asterion, which you can finally experience.

Golden Times: This is already the third Agora in Enschede after 1997 and 2005. Are there any positive things that you want to copy from other Agoras in Enschede or other Agoras in general?
Hanke: We have a lot of contact with the organising team of 2005, for good knowledge transfer, which really helps. One of the most positive things we’ve experienced on the last statutory events was the really good thematics, contents and professional speakers at the EBM. We hope we can peer with this quality of contents!

Golden Times: How is the support from authorities, city, government, European Commission, etc… Do they help you?
Hanke: Local government and regional authorities are really helpful, we have support from the university and university organisations, the municipality of Enschede and regional organisations such as EUregio. We’re in touch with some people of the European Commission about a contribution to the programme with speakers or workshops. We’re really thankful for the help from all our partners.

Golden Times: AEGEE-Enschede is one of the biggest antennae in the network. Can you tell us how a typical month of AEGEE-Enschede and its activities look like? For example this February?
Hanke (smiles): Wow… I hope I can describe a typical month in just a few sentences. Our own pub is opened twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 21.30 to 4.00, and there are about 75 people every time. Last week we had a history quiz about the history of AEGEE-Enschede and AEGEE-Europe, there are yearclub presentations each Thursday in February, there was a one week skiing vacation, the pub board will change soon – which is accompanied by a massive foodfight – and we have the lustrum weekend to Hamburg with 60 members. In February our sororities and fraternities start their drinks with first-years to look for new members. This is just summing up the social activities, but there’s also about 15 people working in the office daily. It’s a long list and just a grasp of activities we do in a month, I hope it gives an idea of what we do.

Golden Times: Do you also know about pre and post events? Where will they be? And what are they about?
Hanke: There are already some pre-events on our website:, there are some in Germany and in the Netherlands. We hope the organisers of pre-events will also give some attention to the preparation of the Agora, and the Dutchies will all introduce you to the legendary Queensday!

Golden Times: On your website you write that there will be a video livestream at the Agora. What can people expect and where can people find it?
Hanke: We are still in contact with the university about the livestream, when it’s working, people can find it on our website. There will probably be a portal for participants.

Golden Times: What shouldn’t the participants forget to bring from home?
Hanke: Everybody should bring their sleepingbag, mattress and toothbrush of course. Bring a suit or representable dress for the official parts and your drinks for the European night. We are working on an app and the participant portal, so bring your smartphone or laptop too, there will be lockers with sockets next to the plenaryroom. If you’re arriving on 30th of April and don’t want to be the odd one out, bring orange clothing for Queensday!

Golden Times: Anything else you would like to add?
Hanke: To stay up to date: check the website and Facebook page. There’s some food for thought on our blog, and for everybody who has not applied yet: do it now! Last: there’s a pre-agora-party in our own pub on 15th of March. I hope to see you soon in Enschede!


More info:

Agora Enschede website:

Agora Enschede Facebook page:

Agora Enschede Facebook group:

Agora pre-events:

The application period started. Until 7th of March you have the chance to apply here: