The AEGEE network is shrinking, but there is light at the end of the tunnel: This is the message that Antonija Parat, Speaker of the Network Commission, told the Golden Times in an interview about the state of the AEGEE network. “We are getting approached more and more by people willing to found a contact in their cities”, she said.

Antonija Parat
NetCom speaker Antonija Parat

Golden Times: Eight new contact antennae at Agora Zaragoza sounds impressive – was 2013 a good or bad year for network development?
Antonija Parat: Actually it is seven new contact antennae, since a mistake was made on the slides and the Contact of AEGEE-Europe in Hatay did not sign Convention d’Adhésion yet. As for the Network development, in the last couple of years our network has actually been shrinking, but now we have started a discussion on that, to find a strategy that will change that tendency. If you compare numbers from Agora Budapest 2012 and Agora Zaragoza 2013, one good sign is a higher number of antennae, which means that more and more locals are functioning properly. Another good thing is that we are getting approached more and more by people willing to found a contact in their cities, sometimes by AEGEE members studying in cities where AEGEE is not present, and sometimes by people who just stumbled upon AEGEE somewhere and liked the idea of having an antenna in their city. This means we are gaining some visibility. After Agora Zaragoza, there are already talks about new possible contacts, so hopefully you will hear about it soon.

AEGEE-Foggia signed the Convention at Agora Zaragoza

Golden Times: Which chances do you see for network development in 2014? Is the quantity of locals a priority issue?
Antonija: There are already some things in progress, so I hope these processes will have good results. While we always prefer to focus on quality rather than quantity of locals, sometimes quantity can affect quality as well. For example, if there is a country with just one AEGEE antenna, and another contact comes along, it can enable them to connect and strengthen them both. There were many interesting points discussed at the progress meeting about network development, so we will take the ideas discussed there and find a way to follow up on that.

Also AEGEE-Gəncə signed…

Golden Times: In which countries or areas does your team want to help founding locals? Some areas look worrying, for example Scandinavia… Are there any priority areas?
Antonija: We would all like to see more locals in the north for sure, but we are open to anybody who approaches us with a desire to found an antenna in their city, regardless of the geographical position. It is always good to have more locals in areas and countries that are a bit isolated, because it does not only mean a creation of new locals, but also strengthening of existing ones.

…and the delegates were singing and clapping.

Golden Times: Which other focus points does your team have for your new term?
Antonija: We will keep focusing on encouraging cooperation between different parts of the networks and the cooperation within the NetCom team, as well as strengthening the cooperation with other European-level bodies. We are also interested in improving the overall quality of NetCom work, as well as its transparency. We will also work on implementation of the updated AEGEE identity, and keep making sure locals are adapting to our visual identity. Next weekend we have our internal NetCom meeting in Brussels, and there we will make a concrete work plan, so stay tuned!


Cover photo by Jorge Sánchez Hernández.