They are the largest event in AEGEE after Agoras and EBM: Network Meetings (NWM) in Poland. In recent years, they often had 200 participants and more. The NWM Silesia, taking place from 3rd till 6th of April 2014 in Zabrze, will host “only” 130 participants this time. The application period finished yesterday. The lucky ones who get a place can look forward to many parallel high quality workshops and discussions for AEGEE beginners and experienced members – and to a really special opening and closing ceremony in a coal mine, 320 meters below ground. Golden Times reporter Dominika Kołodziejczak asked the main NWM organisers Łukasz Krawiec and Paulina Galas what the participants can expect.

NWM Silesia Zabrze
Zabrze, location of the NWM

Golden Times: What makes the Network Meeting (NWM) Silesia unique?
Łukasz Krawiec: Above all, this is the first NWM organized by two neighboring locals – AEGEE-Katowice and AEGEE-Gliwice. Many of the members still remember our recent projects, and their quality guarantees that NWM Silesia 2014 will be an unforgettable event.

Golden Times: How many people can participate this time?
Łukasz: Network Meetings in Poland have evolved into bigger and more complex projects than in other parts of Europe. We established that our event would be limited to 130 people where the foreign AEGEE members would have priority. We don’t want this event to be considered as “the Polish Network Meeting”.

NWM Silesia Lukasz
Łukasz Krawiec

Golden Times: Isn’t such a big number difficult to handle in terms of programme and logistics?
Łukasz: Our NWM is definitely bigger than in other parts of Europe and it resembles more an EBM. Obviously, it is a more difficult project. Therefore, it is more challenging and gives us more satisfaction. Many institutions, for example companies and city authorities from our region, offered us their help and support. We cannot let them down. We have to do everything to show that AEGEE equals high quality projects and experienced, creative people.

Golden Times: What will be special about the programme? What kinds of attractions are waiting for participants?
Paulina Galas: We have prepared a few attractions for participants. We are starting from the official opening of NWM Silesia in the Coal Mine “Guido”, which is the major reason that makes our event different and unique.

Golden Times: How did you get the idea to make the opening and closing ceremony in the coal mine? And was it hard to get this place? 
Paulina: First of all, why Zabrze and not Gliwice or Katowice? We didn’t want one of the two organizing locals to be more associated with NWM Silesia, since this is our combined project. That’s why we rejected organizing it in Katowice or Gliwice. We chose a place which is situated more or less in the middle of these cities, and since we have always been cooperating well with the city of Zabrze, we decided to do it there. We wanted NWM Silesia to be considered as something special like the organization of the opening and closing ceremonies under the ground. Thanks to the City of Zabrze we have a possibility to organize the ceremonies 320 meters under the ground in the already inactive main “Guido”. I reckon it is a strong accent which lets us to show the specifics of our region.

NWM Silesia Paulina
Paulina Galas

Golden Times: What kind of workshops do you prepare related to European level?
Paulina: We set ourselves the goal to inform our members about the activities at the European level of AEGEE, its structure and offered opportunities. First, the new AEGEE identity: during Agora Zaragoza we changed the AEGEE identity and this session will explain our participants the changes to help them understand it and to answer any questions and concerns. Second, the Strategic Plan and Action Agenda: not everyone had the opportunity to participate in EBM Lublin, so it will be a great opportunity to become familiar with it in an easy and understandable way. Third, Eastern Partnership: this is a very interesting topic for our members, especially because of the hot situation in Ukraine. For sure we can expect a fruitful discussion during this session! Fourth, YVote: Because of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament we cannot do otherwise than include AEGEE’s election initiative here as well! Fifth, Working Groups: We will have a discussion about the Working Groups at the European level of AEGEE – what they do, which opportunities they offer. Sixth, the summary of the 10th anniversary of the enlargement of the European Union by 10 countries: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – what it gave to us, how these countries have changed over the last ten years, how it changed the whole EU and what feelings citizens of these ten countries, but also of the countries of the old member states have.

Golden Times: That sounds great and ambitious. Many participants will be at a Network meeting for the first time. Have you got any special programme for those as well?
Paulina: Of course, there will be two obligatory sessions for new members. The first one is called “Introduction to AEGEE” for people who joined the association recently, telling basics about AEGEE, its identity, history, structure and some basic terms. The second one is “NWM for newbies” for participants who are at the NWM for the first time. They will learn what this meeting is about, who organizes it for whom and why, explains its agenda, the Open Space and AEGEE Inspire sessions.

NWM Silesia promo antennae
Two great antennae work together on the NWM: AEGEE-Gliwice and AEGEE-Katowice

Golden Times: All activities will take place in three cities: Gliwice, Zabrze, Katowice. Is it difficult to organize all events in three places during four days of NWM?
Paulina: Is it quite easy if you have a good planning. We have decided that the meeting will be focused in Zabrze, which means gym and workshops. Only the parties will take place in Katowice and Gliwice.

Golden Times: AEGEE parties in Poland are absolutely legendary. Will there be theme parties?
Paulina: Certainly! Unfortunately I cannot reveal any details about the themes… it is a surprise! You must be more patient, everything will be announced soon!

NWM Silesia Guido2
The location of the opening ceremony in coal mine “Guido”

Golden Times: Let’s talk about your team: how many people are working on the event? How is the atmosphere in your team?
Łukasz: The team permanently consists of 15 strongly experienced and extremely reliable people. When I started my preparation for the event, I didn’t expect that I would be able to gather such a great team. Apart from those 15 people in the core team, a dozen additional people from both locals cooperate with us. My first goal was to get rid of the distinction between AEGEE-Gliwice and AEGEE-Katowice and establish collaboration conditions. I believe I managed to achieve it. None of the locals is favored in any way and the meetings take place by turn in two offices.

NWM Silesia Dominika
Author of this interview: Dominika Kołodziejczak

Golden Times: Some personal questions: how old are you, what do you study, how did you join AEGEE?
Łukasz (smiles): I am 27 years old and I joined AEGEE definitely too late – in 2011, when my close friends and associates were close to the end of their AEGEE career. AEGEE was love on first sight and I was completely engulfed by this organization. I owe a lot to AEGEE – many adventures, experiences, memories, friendships and above all, getting to know my wife-to-be. Only a few more months of being a bachelor…
Paulina: I am 23 years old and study Biomedical Engineering at Silesia University of Technology. My adventure with AEGEE began with a spontaneous decision. If it hadn’t been for my friend Dominika and her attempt to wake me up from the afternoon nap, I would not have been here.

Golden Times: What was your best AEGEE experience or event so far?
Łukasz: My first and most important project which I organized was the Absurd Art Festival. Thanks to Ewa Bieniasz, the then president, I was chosen as a vice-coordinator of this event. It was a wonderful project – a huge team, a week full of events from different areas of culture. The memories and experience I got are priceless, and I wouldn’t ever replace them.
Paulina: I don’t have any favorite one, because every time on any event I have entertained myself equally.

NWM Silesia promo Lublin
NWM Silesia promotion at EBM Lublin

Golden Times: Why did you decide to take this challenge and coordinate this event? 
Łukasz: Because of my future plans for life, my activity in AEGEE will change radically. I wanted to make a project which will make me remembered in my local and finish my active involvement in AEGEE with a positive accent. I wanted to fill the gap after the big project which Absurd Art Festival was and mobilize my antenna to work intensively.
Paulina: The main reason is that I like a challenge. Organizing this kind of project will be something exciting. It is going to be something like a test that I want to pass.

Golden Times: After NWM Silesia are you planning to coordinate or take a part in another big project this year?
Łukasz (smiles): Yes, my wedding. It resembles the NWM in largeness and time of preparation.
Paulina: No, because I am the President of AEGEE-Gliwice, which means I have many responsibilities and duties. I would like to rather focus on my antenna, so I won’t get overwhelmed by everything.

Golden Times: What hobbies do you have?
Łukasz: I am interested in travelling and new technologies. I am a gadget freak. I like to be surrounded by technology. I like travelling. I would like to visit Croatia this year. Along with my fiancée we want to spend our honeymoon in the surroundings of Trogiru and make there an excursion base into all interesting regions of Croatia.
Paulina: I will just enumerate: healthy lifestyle, dance, fitness, sport, reading books and music.

Golden Times: Where can the participants find more info? 
Łukasz: More info about the NWM can be found on