Cultural Working Group Secretary Carlijn van de Meulenhof explains what the working group is planning.

Alive and kicking – more than ever: The Cultural Working Group (CWG) is about to turn 15 years and is full of great plans for the future. An Intercultural Communication Trainings, a cooking recipe book, better Cultural European Nights and new dance events are just a few of the projects that the CWG has on its drawing board or is working on already. CWG Secretary Carlijn van de Meulenhof gave an overview on what one of the most active working groups of AEGEE will do in 2012.


Golden Oldie: Carlijn, the CWG just became 15 years old. Now it is looking to the future with great optimism. Why are you so enthusiastic?

Carlijn van de Meulenhof: The last few years, the Cultural Working Group has had its ups and downs. Every time, CWG had some dedicated members who believed in the future of the working group. They were right. During our members meeting on 16th of November this was proven to us once again. Both experienced CWG members and interested AEGEE members came up with great ideas to put CWG back on the AEGEE map. There were so many new members, so many great ideas, many people interested in a board position! Describing my feeling after the meeting as ‘extremely happy’ is not enough. The upcoming weeks we will turn these ideas into projects so we can get started!


The current CWG logo

Golden Oldie: What are the new ideas about?

Carlijn: Well, the content of the activities is not decided yet as the ideas are still just ideas. We did decide on the further development of the Cultural European Night. Sadly, the last edition at the Agora Skopje did not go as planned due to a late start of the evening and missing microphones et cetera, but the editions at the Agora in Alicante and the EBM in Riga all proved successful. That is why we decided to analyse all three events in order to create more successful editions. We also heard many locals implemented cultural nights at their events and they are enthusiastic about this. This is another reason for us to continue with the Cultural European Night.


Golden Oldie: Can you give more examples of your ideas?

Carlijn: We are also considering to organise an Intercultural Communication Training, but we had some problems with the YiA application last time, so we are looking for people with YiA experience. If anyone with YiA experience is interested in helping us, we are forever grateful. Please contact us via e-mail. Next to that, we plan to organise online discussions about contemporary cultural issues. We still need to decide on the precise topics.


Cultural Actions Day in Brno: visit to the Beatlemania exhibitionGolden Oldie: Who will carry the ideas out? What about cooperation with antennae and SU organisers?

Carlijn: As we still need to turn the ideas into projects, we cannot tell you this yet. However, we strive to cooperate with other bodies of AEGEE and hopefully many SU organisers will approach us to organise a cultural SU.


Golden Oldie: Is there a CWG calendar of events?

Carlijn: As we just had these wonderful ideas last Wednesday, we still need to create a CWG calendar of events, but first we need to turn these ideas into project and have a project responsible for every event. We also need to see when other working groups and locals are organising their events to keep a balance in all the activities of AEGEE. After this, we can publish the calendar. Just keep an eye out for CWG.


Golden Oldie: What’s the next CWG event that people can attend?

Carlijn: Some locals are organising a Cultural Actions Day so I would suggest to check our website for more information. For other events, they have to be patient. But 2012 will be an exciting year for CWG for sure!


Poster of the Cultural Actions Day in Budapest

Golden Oldie: The CWG took over the Dance Working Group (DWG). Do you also plan something with dancing?

Carlijn: Of course we are planning to add some dancing to our Activity Plans for 2012! Two dedicated former DWG members joined CWG and they are very motivated. Their energy level is so high. We are thrilled to have them as part of CWG now. Dance is not just moving on music. Dancing is about expressing how we feel. Just observe a random AEGEE party: everyone dances differently but we all know what they try to express. Another aspect of dance is the story from the past they express, the past that created our culture. How can we ignore that?


Golden Oldie: How many members do you have?

Carlijn: Just after the Agora, we updated the members list. Sadly, many members decided not continue their membership of CWG, but it is the quality of your members that counts and we have a lot of motivated and skilled members. At the moment, we have 36 members of which 10 to 15 join our meetings on a regular base. They all bring great ideas to the meeting, we love our members.


Golden Oldie: What about fund-raising?

Carlijn: What started out as an idea for an event, turned into an excellent fund-raising opportunity. The idea is still an idea but during the upcoming weeks, we will turn this idea into project to actually make this happen. One of members suggested to create a cooking recipe book with recipes from all over Europe. The idea is to ask AEGEE members to send in local recipes and we make a book out of all the recipes. We will approach possible sponsors in our local towns. Hopefully they will be as enthusiastic about the idea as we are. When the book is finished, we hope to sell the book at AEGEE events. But this idea is not done yet, we are discussing our possibilities as we speak.


The Cultural Actions Day poster

Carlijn: At the moment, we are preparing for the new elections as the term of the current board is coming to an end. It does feel strange as Isabel, Beata and I dedicated to give one year to CWG and now, we are about to say goodbye to each other. But as we say: everything that is well comes to an end. Isabel, member of AEGEE-Santander, is the speaker: she was the initiator of “Melting the Iceberg” and “So close so different”. Beata, former HR responsible of AEGEE-Budapest, is the current treasurer of CWG. She coordinated the “Cultural Action Days” and assisted the team of “Intercultural Communications Training”. I am secretary of CWG and a member of AEGEE-Amsterdam. I coordinated “Intercultural Communications Training”, the CultureWG blog and was mainly involved in the internal communication. But now our ways are about to depart: Isabel will end her active AEGEE career as she found a job which is consuming a lot of her time. Beata is Network Commissioner and will devote most of her time to serve the network when her terms end. I on the other hand, hope to remain an active member of CWG as I will be the board advisor and I hope to be involved in an event to celebrate CWG’s 15th anniversary.


Golden Oldie: Where can find people find out more about the CWG on the Internet?

Carlijn: This term, we started a blog where our members can post articles about cultural events. Interested members can go there for articles about our events. We also have a Facebook page where we announce all our events. And every interested AEGEE members is welcome to send us an e-mail for more information. Hope to see many of you there!


For fans of AEGEE history – The origins of the CWG

Founding the CWG was first discussed at the Working Group Congress in Enschede in October 1996. At that event a few people around Rianne Brouwers realised that AEGEE was missing a working group that deals with cultural diversity. Half a year later, at the Agora in Enschede in April 1997, the CWG – at that time called Cultural Working Group and not Culture Working Group – signed the Convention d’Adhesion and became a full and official AEGEE Working Group. The first board: Rianne Brouwers, Meike van der Poel, Stefanie Goumans and Marieke Kuijer.

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