AEGEE-Yerevan is the winner of the Golden Oldie’s “Most Popular Antenna Award 2011”. The AEGEE branch in the Armenian capital received 235 votes in the first antenna poll of the online magazine of the alumni association Les Anciens d’AEGEE.  Altogether 2987 votes were cast between 29th October and 6th November 2011 – in a very tough competition many antennae managed to mobilise their members and fans in an excellent way.  “I was surprised to see people voting for us from different antennas who have never met us personally,” says Shushan Khachatryan, founder and President of AEGEE-Yerevan (read a full interview with her below).

Already from the beginning a trio of AEGEE-Yerevan, AEGEE-Enschede and AEGEE-Cagliari were leading the scoreboard, they managed to stay on the top until the end, only changing positions in the table. In the end AEGEE-Yerevan became first, AEGEE-Cagliari second with 191 votes and AEGEE-Enschede third with 147 votes.

Nearly 90 antennae received votes – that’s more than half of the AEGEE network.  Altogether 66 locals got even ten or more votes. A non-existing antenna received 30 votes – AEGEE-Drienerlo, which is a fun antenna founded by AEGEE-Enschede; this would have been enough for 25th place. Also other non-existing antennae received votes, for example AEGEE-Przedmieście Szczebrzeszyńskie, which is a village with 386 inhabitants in the vicinity of Lublin.

Not only AEGEE-Enschede, host of the next Agora in May 2012, received a great result, also AEGEE-Budapest, which wants to organise the next autumn Agora, ended in the top five – this gives hope for the next general assemblies.

The top ten voting result (you find the full list of the top 66 locals at the end of this page)

Shushan Khachatryan: “Enthusiasm, activeness and workaholics”

Golden Oldie: Shushan, congratulations for winning the first Golden Oldie’s Most Popular Antenna Award. AEGEE-Yerevan won, despite the fact that there are much bigger locals than yours and your antenna is just one year old. How did you manage to win?

Shushan Khachatryan: It was nice to hear and see that we had so many votes. I was surprised to see people voting for us from different antennae, who have never met us personally. I am sure there are more cooler antennae, which contributed to AEGEE for a number of years, but I do agree as well that for only one year of our existence we did a lot because of hyper activeness of our members.


Golden Oldie: What characterises the AEGEE-Yerevan spirit best?

Shushan (smiling): Enthusiasm, activeness and workaholics.


Golden Oldie: Which events did your antenna organise so far? Which one was the most successful?

Shushan: Starting from January this year we organised a number of big events such as “Youth UnEmplyment Action Day”, “European Awareness Action Day”,” Higher Education Day”, a Summer University and recently an “EU Model 2011” in cooperation with the Delegation of the EU to Armenia.


Golden Oldie: Impressive! Which one was the most successful?

Shushan: It is really difficult to mention which one was the most successful, as we received very good feedback after all projects. But I would like to mention the Youth UnEmployment Action Day as the first local project which had a big success. We were calculating with 80 participants and around 200 showed up!


Golden Oldie: How many members do you have?

Shushan: Currently we have around 50 members.


Golden Oldie: So you managed a lot of things with relatively few members. Amazing! What does AEGEE-Yerevan do locally?

Shushan: The main direction we adopted for 2011 is involvement in the EU integration processes and increasing EU awareness among the Armenian youth. This is the reason that AEGEE-Yerevan and me personally are involved in the Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe. I am currently the content manager of the project.


Golden Oldie: When did you found AEGEE-Yerevan? And how did you hear about AEGEE in first place?

Shushan: It was summer 2010. I was searching for Summer Schools and found the long Summer University list of AEGEE. I checked for a nearby local to join the project, but unfortunately couldn’t find one as the only antenna in Armenia, AEGEE-Gyumri, was deactivated. So after telling this idea to my friends I understood that we should start one in Yerevan. We signed the Convention d’Adhesion during the Autumn Agora Istanbul 2010.


Golden Oldie: That was in less than half a year! Was it hard to create AEGEE? Did you get support from the university and other authorities?

Shushan: It was not hard at all, as we got all support we needed locally. The University I graduated from welcomed our initiative and supported us a lot. The hardest thing for me was to firstly understand how AEGEE works and only after Agora Istanbul I got the idea. The next step was to transfer all this knowledge and spirit to my board members and to start our activities. It was hard indeed as we tried different organisational structures until we found the most suitable one. I am glad to look behind and see a really formed organisation with its clear structure and goals for the future. I am proud of it.


Golden Oldie: AEGEE-Yerevan was invited for a personal meeting with the President of the Republic. What did you talk with him about?

Shushan: We were included in the list of 30 active NGOs. Together with other civil society representatives we were invited for a reception with the President of the Republic of Armenia. It was a real honour for us. He warmly welcomed our initiatives. It was a great feeling to see that your activities are being noticed.


Golden Oldie: Why is your antenna motto: ”If you want to be like us, do better than us”?

Shushan: When we founded AEGEE-Yerevan, I personally and most of our board members had never been involved in any NGO before. We didn’t have the experience of leading an organisation. So we did what we could, so we said: if you want to become our member you should do more than we did. This is how we develop.


Golden Oldie: Visa is a big problem for many locals in your region. How do you cope with it?

Shushan: There was quite active discussion at the AEGEE-Europe forum regarding this issue recently. You can check it online: Getting visa is really a big problem together with expensive flights. Before each Agora we are having this big stress and the most painful one was the Agora Skopje. We could finally get a travel grant and because of visa we couldn’t join the Agora.


Golden Oldie: That’s bad. How much does a Schengen visa cost?

Shushan: The Schengen visa costs 60 EUR, you usually get it in two-three weeks but you have to collect so many documents before applying, spend money on notary translations, spend nerves and time on bureaucratic processes… Fortunately some embassies do an exception and do not charge for visa. However these two issues still keep us isolated from being active on European level and participating in European events. It is really demotivating.


Golden Oldie: I’m sorry to hear. What can you do against the visa problem?

Shushan: I am glad to see that visa facilitation issue is being discussed more and more on EU level conferences and is included in the Eastern Partnership Project Agenda. I do think that soon we will have at least easier procedure of getting Schengen visa. We as AEGEE-Yerevan will contribute to this process as much as we can by organising local actions and making our voice heard.


Golden Oldie: Finally a personal question. Will you stay president of AEGEE-Yerevan for another term?

Shushan: I am working full time in international projects and volunteering for AEGEE after work. It is really hard to combine work with AEGEE, and for last one year I was living only for developing AEGEE-Yerevan, involving active members and motivating them. Soon the eIections of the new board will start and I am glad I found the right people who will lead the organisation as I am not planning to candidate again for the position of president.


Additional link: AEGEE-Yerevan was the first antenna to be featured in the AEGEE online magazine The AEGEEan as “Local of the month”. Click here for the article.


Golden Oldie  Most Popular Antenna Award 2011 – the first 66

1 AEGEE-Yerevan 235 34 AEGEE-Ljubljana 22
2 AEGEE-Cagliari 191 34 AEGEE-Leon 22
3 AEGEE-Enschede 147 34 AEGEE-Pécs 22
4 AEGEE-Catania 124 34 AEGEE-Piliscsaba 22
5 AEGEE-Budapest 115 38 AEGEE-Tarragona 21
6 AEGEE-Istanbul 113 38 AEGEE-Toulouse 21
7 AEGEE-Amsterdam 95 38 AEGEE-Bratislava 21
8 AEGEE-Maribor 89 41 AEGEE-Toruń 20
9 AEGEE-Beograd 88 41 AEGEE-Messina 20
10 AEGEE-Poznań 84 43 AEGEE-Wien 19
11 AEGEE-Ankara 75 43 AEGEE-Mağusa 19
12 AEGEE-Eskişehir 62 43 AEGEE-Voronezh 19
13 AEGEE-Peiraias 60 43 AEGEE-Sofia 19
14 AEGEE-İzmir 58 47 AEGEE-Chişinău 18
15 AEGEE-Groningen 55 47 AEGEE-Passau 18
16 AEGEE-Kraków 53 49 AEGEE-Lviv 17
17 AEGEE-Zaragoza 49 49 AEGEE-Maastricht 17
18 AEGEE-Pisa 48 51 AEGEE-Debrecen 16
19 AEGEE-Valletta 45 51 AEGEE-Prague 16
19 AEGEE-Utrecht 45 53 AEGEE-Skopje 15
21 AEGEE-Kyiv 44 54 AEGEE-Cluj Napoca 14
22 AEGEE-Baki 39 54 AEGEE-Lyon 14
23 AEGEE-Oviedo 33 54 AEGEE-Çanakkale 14
24 AEGEE-Alicante 31 57 AEGEE-Tartu 13
25 AEGEE-Palermo 30 58 AEGEE-Granada 12
26 AEGEE-Bucuresti 27 58 AEGEE-Barcelona 12
26 AEGEE-Castelló 27 60 AEGEE-Valencia 11
26 AEGEE-Eindhoven 27 60 AEGEE-Patra 11
26 AEGEE-Katowice 27 62 AEGEE-Thessaloniki 10
30 AEGEE-Zielona Góra 26 62 AEGEE-Delft 10
31 AEGEE-Riga 25 62 AEGEE-Paris 10
32 AEGEE-Madrid 24 62 AEGEE-Dnepropetrovsk 10
32 AEGEE-Heidelberg 24 62 AEGEE-Ogre 10