From 6th to 10th of Feb­ru­ary 2019 Izmir will be the cen­tre of the AEGEE world. Around 100 par­tic­i­pants will gath­er for the Euro­pean Plan­ning Meet­ing (EPM), which will focus on the issue of sus­tain­abli­ty this year. Of course the par­tic­i­pants will also draft the new Action Agen­da. EPM Izmir’s Main organ­is­er Batuhan Çarıkçı – who was also Incom­ing Responible at Ago­ra Istan­bul — told the Gold­en Tımes what you can expect.

Batuhan Carik­ci

Gold­en Times: The EPM in Izmir is approach­ing quick­ly. Do you still get enough sleep?
Batuhan Çarıkçı: I think so, sev­en hours per day must sound quite lux­u­ri­ous in AEGEE’s terms and con­di­tions.

GT: Indeed. Are you also study­ing, work­ing or just focussing on the EPM?
Batuhan: I was unfor­tu­nate­ly not able to work for 1.5 years, because of the work­load com­bi­na­tion of the school, Ago­ra Istan­bul and EPM Izmir. This June I final­ly will be grad­u­at­ed from the uni­ver­si­ty — hope­ful­ly.

GT: How big is your EPM team and how is the atmos­phere in the team?
Batuhan: We have a big group of orga­niz­ers. There will be 20 nation­al and inter­na­tion­al orga­niz­ers, and 20 AEGEE-İzmir orga­niz­ers. The big­ger part of AEGEE-İzmir organ­is­ers con­sists of new mem­bers, and they are extreme­ly excit­ed for the EPM. The gen­er­al atmos­phere in the team is very good, peo­ple know each oth­er quite well and most of them have already worked togeth­er once — thanks to Ago­ra Istan­bul!

The EPM Core Team

GT: How many peo­ple do you expect as par­tic­i­pants?
Batuhan: Togeth­er with late con­fir­ma­tions, we will have around 100 par­tic­i­pants.

GT: Where will the peo­ple be lodged?
Batuhan: Our par­tic­i­pants will be lodged in pri­vate hous­es that we are going to rent.

GT: Nice! And where will the pro­gramme ses­sions take place?
Batuhan: The ses­sions will take place in one of the con­fer­ence halls of the fac­ul­ty of let­ters of Ege Uni­ver­si­ty.

GT: Are the dis­tances big or is every­thing pret­ty close?
Batuhan: The pri­vate hous­es are direct­ly next to the cam­pus, and the dis­tance between the acco­mo­da­tion and the venue is 750 meters, and between venue and din­ing hall there are just 350 meters.

GT: What can you tell us about the open­ing cer­e­mo­ny?
Batuhan: The open­ing cer­e­mo­ny will take place in an his­tor­i­cal coal­gas fac­to­ry, which is used as a con­cert area or for oth­er youth activ­i­ties today. It’s a ten min­utes walk away from the area where all the night clubs are in. The pro­gramme will be quite clas­si­cal for an open­ing cer­e­mo­ny. We will start at 19:00 with appe­tiz­ers, then at 20:00 the cer­e­mo­ny will start.

GT: You were Incom­ing Respon­si­ble at Ago­ra Istan­bul. In what way did it help you to pre­pare for the EPM organ­i­sa­tion?
Batuhan: Being in the orga­niz­ing part in an event, espe­cial­ly in a statu­to­ry event, is a very big expe­ri­ence. As the Incom­ing Respon­si­ble of Ago­ra Istan­bul, I had to fol­low every step and detail with­in the event like a vice-coor­di­na­tor. Because I was the per­son that peo­ple con­tact first, in this case I had to have all the answers peo­ple need. This issue kept me always awake for pro­vid­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the local organ­is­ers and par­tic­i­pants. The sit­u­a­tion of get­ting always updat­ed by both core team and par­tic­i­pants made me way more aware of the needs of both of them. I was always in the game active­ly, col­lect­ed a lot of feed­back and mea­sured the reac­tions of par­tic­i­pants and orga­niz­ers all the time. Doing this made me imag­ine the orga­ni­za­tion­al part of EPM much eas­i­er. As a coor­di­na­tor, you must know every detail of your event, but to be able to know every detail, first you need to be able to imag­ine them.

GT: The Ago­ra had to face lots of logis­ti­cal chal­lenges. How is it with the EPM? Batuhan: Since we have a great sup­port from the Ege Uni­ver­si­ty, things will go much smoother, com­pare to Ago­ra Istan­bul. Dur­ing the Ago­ra, we had to con­vert a whole build­ing into an Ago­ra place every­day, which I think we did very good job with. We were build­ing a ple­nary area from the begin­ning twice in a day! Dur­ing the EPM, every­thing will be set­tled once, and the places like the ple­nary area and rooms are already ready to use. So, this time you will see less run­ning orga­niz­ers around!

The leg­endary Ago­ra in Izmir

GT: AEGEE-Izmir already host­ed two statu­to­ry events: the leg­endary Ago­ra Izmir in 2005 — one of the best Ago­ras ever, with lodg­ing in a five-star hotel; and the EBM in 2012, which was the first event with today’s EPM con­cept. Did you speak with the organ­is­ers of those events for get­ting advice or inspi­ra­tion?
Batuhan: Haha, yes, of course! Espe­cial­ly two of them, Selçuk Şen­türk and Berat Ezel, they were always inspi­ra­tional peo­ple for me, and I real­ly like to have con­ver­sa­tions with them and lis­ten to their mem­o­ries when we meet. Their advice, expe­ri­ences and sup­port were not help­ful only for the EPM, but also for life itself. When I hear their sto­ries espe­cial­ly about Ago­ra Izmir 2005, I imme­di­ate­ly feel inspired and impressed with their work. I hope they will be avail­able to come to the open­ing cer­e­mo­ny of the EPM and there peo­ple can meet them.

GT: Sus­tain­abil­i­ty is the big top­ic of the EPM. How is your anten­na con­tribut­ing to the top­ic?
Batuhan: On local lev­el, last April we organ­ised a Net­work Meet­ing with the top­ic of green sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and also we were organ­is­ing Local Dis­cus­sion Forums last year, and sev­er­al times we focused on the top­ic of sus­tain­abil­i­ty under dif­fer­ent subtopics.

The Ago­ra Izmir loca­tion was a five-star hotel

GT: You are plan­ning to plant a for­est in the frame­work of the EPM. Please tell us more about the EPM For­est Mis­sion. Who had the idea and what do you plan exact­ly?
Batuhan: Build­ing a for­est was the idea of Barış Özçe­lik, the vice-coor­di­na­tor of our EPM. At first, I was quite shocked and couldn’t under­stand what he meant with it. After­wards, we checked the pro­ce­dures and the prices of trees and said: yes we can! The idea of hav­ing a real­ly con­crete out­come after the event con­vinced me eas­i­ly, because this is some­thing ben­e­fi­cial for the envi­ron­ment around us. We will all remem­ber this until the end and make a vis­it in the future, when­ev­er we want.

The logo of EPM Izmir

GT: When will you plant the trees?
Batuhan: Imme­di­ate­ly after the event — of course after hav­ing a tiny hol­i­day — we are going to con­tact the For­est Insti­tu­tion again, and give a start to the process. Dur­ing the last meet­ing that we had with them, they told us that the plan­ta­tion sea­son is March and April, so our trees will be plant­ed then. In the crowd­fund­ing link we pro­vid­ed, we explained the game­plan exact­ly, where the trees will be plant­ed in and which insti­tu­tions will pro­vide us seedlings. We will keep the net­work updat­ed about the process! Check the crowd­fund­ing site:

GT: Unfor­tu­nate­ly, so far only 247 Euro of the tar­get­ed 4950 Euros have been raised… What’s your mes­sage to the read­ers?
Batuhan: The num­ber of 4950 Euros has only a sym­bol­ic mean­ing, we did not want to lim­it it since we don’t know how many peo­ple would like to con­tribute to it. In the end we will add all the left­over of the EPM bud­get there — at least 40% of whole bud­get — and see how many trees we will have in our beloved AEGEE for­est.

GT: There will be a Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Debat­ing Com­pe­ti­tion at the EPM. What can you tell us about that?
Batuhan: Its event descrip­tion on Face­book clear­ly explains what it is, let’s share the link here and attract more peo­ple. I am in con­tact with our IT respon­si­ble, whether we can pro­vide some extra stuff for this ses­sion or not.

Meet Mork and Fork!

GT: You pro­mot­ed the event with a nice car­toon, star­ring the broc­co­l­is Mork and Fork. How are they doing? And: will there be broc­coli on the EPM menu?
Batuhan: They are fine, even though some­times they are strug­gling with the sun of İzmir, because they are actu­al­ly quite tough win­ter veg­eta­bles and grow­ing some­where else in Turkey. How­ev­er, Mork’s home­sick­nes is still going on, but we hope one day it will be hap­py, in the end. The EPM menü is not announced by the uni­ver­si­ty yet, but we can guar­an­tee our par­tic­i­pants that bad food is not some­thing wel­come here!

GT: What can you tell us about the par­ties of the EPM? What are the themes?
Batuhan: We actu­al­ly would like to keep this part as a sur­prise. But at least I can say that this time we will give chance to gen­res like elec­tro tech­no and R&B.

In sum­mer the area is pret­ty hot — here a pho­to of AEGEE-Izmir’s SU in 2018

GT: For what kind of weath­er should the par­tic­i­pants pre­pare? What will the tem­per­a­ture be at the EPM?
Batuhan: Sad news, this time we do not expect from our par­tic­i­pants to bring their swim­ming suits. The esti­mat­ed tem­per­a­ture is max­i­mum 14 in the day, and min­i­mum 7 in the night. In win­ter, Izmir’s weath­er is as sta­bile as Turkey’s econ­o­my, so we still sug­gest our par­tic­i­pants to bring their rain­coats.

GT: Final­ly a per­son­al ques­tion: in the GT year review you wrote: “After organ­is­ing EPM İzmir 2019 suc­cess­ful­ly in Feb­ru­ary, I will check my options if I want run for one last round in AEGEE or not.” Are you already clos­er in mak­ing a deci­sion?
Batuhan: Not real­ly, as I said there, I will think about the next steps with a fresh mind after the EPM. Right now, I’m com­plete­ly focused on the incom­ing chal­lange.