Belarus is like a blind spot on the map of Europe. A place that hardly any AEGEE member ever travels too – despite the fact that the capital has a very active antenna. In order to break the stereotypes of many AEGEE members, AEGEE-Minsk organised the event “Discover Belarus” from 27th of June until 2nd of July. “It was the best decision ever to have this event”, told AEGEE-Minsk President Nadia Fomenok the Golden Times.

The participants turned into pioneers

The 16 participants felt overwhelmed by the great hospitality of the AEGEE-Minsk team, who had worked very hard on the preparations for months. A full schedule was waiting for the visitors, each day had an own theme. For example the “Soviet Union Day”, where the participants went to Victory Park and Gorki Park, played soviet-style games, but also rode on catamarans. Or the “Folk culture and rural lifestyle day”, during which the group left the capital and went to nearby Loshitski park. There they got to know traditional rites at the park’s mansion house.

Getting to know Belarus traditions

Another highlight was the celebration of Kupalle, a Belarussian folk summer holiday on 1st of July. At the Minsk Sea (Minskaje Mora), a reservoir five kilometres north of the city centre, the participants learnt how to make flower wreaths, did fortune-telling according to the Kupalle tradition, but also had a barbeque and played guitar songs near a fire. “We went all around Minsk, to a Belarusian village and the countryside”, sums Nadia up. “We turned our participants into pioneers and showed them how to prepare draniki, a typical Belarusian food! And the European night was just great…”

The participants learnt to prepare Belarus food

The participants loved the programme, the dedication of the organisers and also learnt a lot every day. One of them, Jorge Visus, wrote: “Indeed my vision of Belarus has drastically changed in six days. Thanks for make this happen and show us your country as it is.” Several others told the organisers that they had the expectation to see a poor undeveloped country, but then met a modern and European-minded society. “I loved hearing this and I am happy that we made a difference to these people, speading awesomness about us a little bit further”, says Nadia with a wink. “Seeing the Facebook messages from participants saying they loved it was such a joy for all of us.”

The organisers put their soul, heart and mind into the event…

The only thing which went wrong? That happened when the group tried to form the word Minsk. “We learned that there is no easy way to make an S out of human bodies”, recalls Nadia. “The S was only half an S – it was a Russian S that looks like a C.”

The participants loved that the organisers partied every day with them, and secretly organised the next day. And so it is no surprise that they asked AEGEE-Minsk about their next event. Nadia: “It was so nice that people were asking us that all the time! The next event will be Discover Belarus vol.2 for sure! And let’s see what will happen in between. First we need to get like a week of sleep…”

…but lost their flag!

After catching up with that the antenna has to work on a little extra task, which the participants gave them. Some AEGEE-Madrid members stole the AEGEE-Minsk flag! “We were saying goodbye at a bus station when Jose showed it through the bus window”, says Nadia. She already received a task to get it back. “We have to make a video showing Minsk and AEGEE-Minsk members, post it on Youtube and get 1000 views till 31st of August. We have to be quick!”

But with the huge spirit and motivation of the AEGEE-Minsk members this should be possible. The last words belong again to Nadia: “I never felt that organising something is such a joy. I was crying from happiness all departure day from realising that we created something that awesome. Having this event was the best decision ever! Finally we feel like a real antenna – and I have the best local in Europe.”