The crisis in Greece is the dominating topic in all media. Many members, who participate in a Summer University in this beautiful country, will have the chance to get their own picture of the situation. The Golden Times had a look at two SUs: While the Summer University in Heraklio is already approaching its end, the one in Ioannina will start in a few days. Evi Topali, President of AEGEE-Ioannina, and Giorgos Avramidis, Secretary of AEGEE-Heraklio, report about their SUs.

Greece Evi Topali
Evi Topali
Greece Giorgos Avramidis
Giorgos Avramidis

GT: Is the crisis affecting your SU? If yes, how? For example, liquidity problems?
Giorgos Avramidis: It is true that we dealt with some hard times while we kept working even harder to organise this SU. We kept doing our job and we need to say a huge “Thank You” to all the participants that did to us the honour to join us especially nowadays. And we also really want to thank them for all the support and the team spirit they have. They are into the spirit of AEGEE.
Evi Topali: The crisis is not a new factor for us. Greece had to deal with the crisis in the previous years too. The problem that came up mainly the last month are the recent unstable political and financial circumstances. Obviously these new conditions greatly affected our SU with the main obstacles to be settled in the fundraising field, as we had last minute cancelations from our sponsors. The cash machines still don’t give a lot of money, but we don’t have liquidity problems, since our participants will pay upon arrival. To be honest though, money is important but it is not key to make something unforgettable – which is the quote which motivates us for this summer! With a lot of creativity and willingness we managed to prepare a unique SU according to the expectations of our participants! Thank to our members’ help and the proper cooperation between us as an antenna, we faced everything!

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Happy participants and organisers at the SU in Heraklio

GT: Did you have to change the programme of the SU because of the crisis?
Evi Topali: Not radically, we just needed to be more flexible. We had some changes, yes, which do not affect the final result! In a few days we will start and everything is more than ready!
Giorgos Avramidis: There was no need to change the programme of our SU and also there was no reason for the participants to deal with the crisis. After all, our main goal was and remains for the participants to get to know our city, our country, our culture and our daily life through our eyes. We want them to feel and live like locals.

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Preparations for the SU in Ioannina

GT: Do you plan to discuss the crisis in the SU programme?
Giorgos Avramidis: Of course we discuss about the crisis, the referendum and how all this effected the way we tried to create our SU. They do want to know about the way we acted as organisers, but also about what is going on in the country that has become their home during their stay here.
Evi Topali: It is not the crisis itself that has to be discussed. Undoubtedly though, we would be absurd to leave the whole situation without a comment! We are more than lucky that our participants trust us –even under those circumstances – and yes we want to sensitize them! Our aim is to transmit to the participants our visual aspect of the country – the youths’ aspect – and the idea of the Europe we want and dreamed of.

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The first participant has already arrived to Ioannina!

GT: Is the crisis affecting AEGEE life in general? Are members frustrated or lost interest in AEGEE?
Evi Topali: The crisis affects the relations between the European Union countries generally. Hence it affects the life of those who consider themselves firstly as European and secondly as AEGEEans; and we are among them. Our members remain as passionate and energetic as before, but clearly they are puzzled by what is happening every day in the country, which is really logical. We have to mention the aspect of all this inside the network though, since many AEGEE friends do care, are interested about the situation in Greece and support us.
Giorgos Avramidis: Surely, more or less the crisis is affecting AEGEE and this is something very normal. During these hard times for our country our students do not have enough money to spend on traveling and meeting new people. We all know how hard it is to find a job or as a student. But we keep thinking positive and make others feel and think positive, too.