No, Ispar­ta is not in Greece. It’s in Turkey. You might not have heard about this city yet, but you will. The crew around Con­tact Ispar­ta founder Vey­sel Koca is deter­mined to sign the Con­ven­tion d’Adhésion already at Ago­ra Bucharest in three months. So it’s just a ques­tion of time until many of us will vis­it inter­na­tion­al events in this great spot in West­ern Turkey!

The founder: Vey­sel Koca

Gold­en Times: Con­grat­u­la­tions for becom­ing offi­cial­ly an AEGEE Con­tact! You are Pres­i­dent of the board – but you actu­al­ly have been AEGEE mem­ber for a while, in Izmir. How long have you been in AEGEE, how did you join AEGEE first?
Vey­sel Koca: Thank you for your inter­est. Yes, we are offi­cial­ly an AEGEE Con­tact now. I joined AEGEE approx­i­mate­ly one year and three months ago. I found AEGEE after my Glob­al Vol­un­teer­ing AIESEC project in Czechia and I want­ed to join anoth­er non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion, so I joined AEGEE!

GT: Very good choice!
Vey­sel (smiles): When I joined it, I checked: what is AEGEE? How can I do some inter­est­ing things? I was check­ing Euro­pean events and work­ing groups. I was just a sim­ple mem­ber, but I care about AEGEE. So now we estab­lished our Con­tact in Ispar­ta!

GT: So how did you get the idea of start­ing AEGEE in Ispar­ta? Barış Refik Özçe­lik told me that you had a talk dur­ing the prepa­ra­tions for Ago­ra Istan­bul…
Vey­sel: Exact­ly, we had talk at the Ago­ra İstan­bul organ­is­ers’ meet­ing in Sefer­i­his­ar, İzmir. Barış asked me where I was study­ing and I answered him that I am study­ing in Ispar­ta. Then he sud­den­ly said: “Don’t you want to estab­lish AEGEE in Ispar­ta? Did you ever think about that?” I replied: “Why not? It’s an amaz­ing idea!” After that we start­ed work­ing on it. With Barış. He sup­port­ed me sim­ply too much. I would express numer­ous thanks to him!

Ispar­ta is known as the city of ros­es, because they grow them there!

GT: When he start­ed work­ing on cre­at­ing an AEGEE Con­tact, how did it go? After all, it’s not so easy to start a local from scratch…
Vey­sel: I was real­ly excit­ed! Yes, I know it is not easy… How­ev­er, we have real­ly qual­i­fied mem­bers and we will do our best and will join many events in Europe.

GT: How is it going now? How many mem­bers does your Con­tact have?
Vey­sel: It is going very well. We have 21 mem­bers at the uni­ver­si­ty now. We are still grow­ing up and this semes­ter the num­ber will go up and up — just stay tuned!

GT: Where did you look for mem­bers — and was it easy to con­vince them? What’s the main moti­va­tion for stu­dents in Ispar­ta to join AEGEE?
Vey­sel: In Ispar­ta we have anoth­er inter­na­tion­al asso­ci­a­tion like ESN, IEEE and BEST. We, the board of direc­tors, were their mem­bers in the past. Our board and I explained them why they should join AEGEE and told them about their poten­tial in AEGEE. We told them about all the ideas and projects that they could think of with­out hes­i­ta­tion and that they could make Europe a bet­ter place.

Ispar­ta has 222,000 inhab­i­tants

GT: When did you offi­cial­ly become a con­tact?
Vey­sel: On 1st of Feb­ru­ary 2019 AEGEE-Europe pub­lished us and we offi­cial­ly became a Con­tact!

GT: Does the uni­ver­si­ty or oth­er insti­tu­tions sup­port you and like the idea of AEGEE?
Vey­sel: Of course, our Uni­ver­si­ty and Ispar­ta munic­i­pal­i­ty sup­port us. We are still search­ing for more insti­tu­tions, which will sup­port our activ­i­ties.

GT: Did some of your mem­bers aside you already attend an AEGEE event?
Vey­sel: Just me…

Eğirdir is a beau­ti­ful place in the Ispar­ta province, less than 50 kilo­me­tres away from Ispar­ta

GT: You will be part of the organ­is­ers and helpers team at the EPM this week. How many of you will be there?
Vey­sel: I will be there alone, because some of them are work­ing or doing short intern­ships — and also we didn’t know that our Con­tact would be accept­ed before the EPM.

GT: Will you come to the Ago­ra in Bucharest — and maybe even sign the Con­ven­tion d’Adhesion there?
Vey­sel: Yes! We will come to the Ago­ra in Bucharest and I am sure it will be great!

GT: What will be the first activ­i­ty that you want to organ­ise in your city with AEGEE?
Vey­sel: We want to organ­ise activ­i­ties with numer­ous ideas. It is still a bit ear­ly to say what we will organ­ise first. We still must think about it.

Eğirdir has a beau­ti­ful old town

GT: What can you tell us about Ispar­ta? What kind of city is it? My first thought was that it must be in Greece…
Vey­sel (laugh­ing): Yes, Greece has Spar­ta. Ispar­ta and Spar­ta are real­ly sim­i­lar — just one let­ter! I just want­ed to say: please wait for Insta­gram page and we will show you real­ly, real­ly clear­ly how our city is! And of course we will show you our way of life with the help of videos. You will learn many things about Ispar­ta!

GT: Why should AEGEE mem­bers from all over Europe vis­it you and your city?
Vey­sel: We will explain it togeth­er with all our mem­bers via our future YouTube Chan­nel and many videos. This is the best way to intro­duce Ispar­ta.

GT: What do you study and how old are you?
Vey­sel: I am 22 years old and I am study­ing Agri­cul­tur­al Biotech­nol­o­gy at the Fac­ul­ty of Agri­cul­ture.

GT: Any­thing you would like to add?
Vey­sel: I would thank the whole AEGEE Fam­i­ly and I real­ly want to meet all of you guys. I will be in Izmir dur­ing the EPM and want to meet you face to face. Please find me dur­ing the EPM! It will be my plea­sure to talk with you! The first date is impor­tant!

Ispar­ta at night