Catania is for the capital of the AEGEE when it comes to Summer Universities. The antenna in the Sicilian city organised the best SU four times in a row – no wonder that the SU Coordination Team chose the place as location for this year’s Summer University Project School (SUPS). Between 7th and 13th March around 15 enthusiastic members from all over Europe learnt everything there is to know about organising an SU. One of them was Laura Pérez Álvarez, Secretary of AEGEE-León. She told the GT why the SUPS 2016 was unforgettable.

GT: Laura, how was SUPS 2016? What were the three things that you liked the most about it?
Laura Pérez Álvarez: The SUPS was definitely a very interesting event. The top three things I liked the most were the trainers, the programme and the topics of the sessions.

GT: Can you explain in a few words what the SUPS is?
Laura: The Summer University Project School is a week-long training for organisers of the Summer Universities. It is the result of the combined work of the Summer University Coordination Team (SUCT) and the AEGEE Academy.

SUPS Catania team
SUPS team in Catania

GT: How many participants were there?
Laura: We were 15 to 20 participants, together with organisers and trainers we made a group of almost 40 people.

GT: Who were the trainers?
Laura: Mateusz Muszalski from the Audit Commission, Paolo Furia from AEGEE-Catania, Carolina Alfano and Lucia from SUCT, Ander Guerrero on behalf of the CD and of course the outstanding Ioana Duca, who coordinated this event from the beginning to the end.

GT: AEGEE-Catania is the best SU organiser in AEGEE. Were they also good local hosts for the SUPS?
Laura: They were great! Always paying attention to us participants and our needs, always creating a good atmosphere… It is clear that they are very united as a team. I really enjoyed their dynamic city tour with wine, frappe and arancia rossa juice tasting. I had a lot of fun in the pub-crawl as well.

SUPS Catania Trainers
SUPS Catania Trainers

GT: Did AEGEE-Catania also share their secrets with you, how they became best SU organiser four times in a row?
Laura: I hope they don’t get mad at me for revealing it but basically their secret is… the team! For them the relation between the organisers and how they work together is very important. It was great to see how synchronized they are. They also have a special “games responsible” and they showed us many of the activities they make before and during the SU. Another good thing they have is the ability to surprise the participants all the time. In Catania one night you don’t expect anything special and you end up enjoying the European Night in a house by the beach.

GT: You had programme from 9 am till 8 pm. Wasn’t that very tiring? Did you still have energy for the parties?
Laura: I must say it was indeed very tiring, even though I am kind of used to this AEGEE event rhythm by now. Parties were very nice and energetic but a couple of nights we stayed in the hostel and the organisers prepared games for us there.

SUPS Session
The SUPS programme was very intense.

GT: Was there any presentation or message which impressed you in particular?
Laura: I learned the most in the participants’ management and time management sessions; those are aspects in which I think I needed to improve.

GT: The case work was in the past one of the highlights of AEGEE trainings. How was it this time? What did you do?
Laura: Case work began usually in the evening, we were divided in groups and we had to organise a Summer University following the assignments SUCT sent us. Guided by a mentor – Mateusz was mine and he did a great job! – we faced many of the usual steps in both submitting correctly and organizing properly an SU. I found out that case studies are very useful, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience.

SUPS Catania5
AEGEE-Catana shared their SU secrets.

GT: One of the best parts of AEGEE trainings is that the groups grow closely together. Many people become friends. Also in Catania?
Laura: Of course! Between AEGEE people it’s always easy to make good friends. I’m especially happy that I met Andrada from AEGEE-Cluj Napoca and Stefano from AEGEE-Udine, who were brilliant and I’m sure will be amazing coordinators of their SUs this year.

GT: You are organising an SU in León this year. What is it about?
Laura: This year we have made some special changes and we are organising a TSU with AEGEE-A Coruña about local culture and traditions in the North of Spain: “The Chronicles of Hispania: The Lion, the Octopus and the Lost chalice of wine” You can check our Facebook page and how to apply here:

SUPS Catania6
Laura (right( with Andrada from AEGEE-Cluj Napoca

GT: In what way will your experience of the SUPS influence your SU?
Laura: Of course I will use Catania’s secret to improve my SU. But every training I attended in the SUPS was extremely influential. We have a big team of organisers in León this year and I believe that especially the teambuilding and communication sessions will be useful when managing such a big group. I’m incoming responsible this year and I also got good tips for that.

GT: Would you recommend our readers to take part in a SUPS?
Laura: Of course! Especially if they are organising an SU! The more knowledge and experience you get before organizing the better! I also encourage all the locals to try and send some of their SU organizers to this event next year. I am really thankful because I got a lot of support from my antenna – which was what finally convinced me to apply.

SUPS Catania3
With lots of interesting sessions goin to a SUPS is a must!

GT: A few words about you: where and what do you study, how old are you and how did you join AEGEE?
Laura: I’m 21 years old and I’m studying English and literature at the University of León. I joined AEGEE almost a year ago and the first event I ever organized was our TSU last year. I’ve decided that I want to be even more involved in AEGEE, so this semester I took less subjects and I applied for more events.

GT: Anything else you would like to add?
Laura: For me the SUPS was the first time that I travelled to an AEGEE event on my own. Usually there are plenty of people from my antenna travelling with me, so at first it was kind of intimidating. Once the training started I realised that I could use the situation to learn even more and interact with new people. I ended up having an amazing week and enjoying every minute of it. Right before leaving one of the organisers told me that in Catania you cry twice, once when you arrive and once when you’re about to leave. I didn’t cry, but for this awesome event, that sentence made a lot of sense to me.

SUPS Catania2
Fun at night – the SUPS is not only about classroom sessions.