What was your first AEGEE event? The AEGEE Golden Times asked that question six weeks ago. 364 current and former members took part in that online poll. The result was clear: 34 percent started with a Summer University (see chart). Also a lot of AEGEE celebrities had the first big AEGEE adventure with an SU.

Michiel van Hees

One of the most prominent examples is Michiel van Hees, one of the 14 Honorary Member of AEGEE-Europe. “The Summer University in Zagreb and Dubrovnik in 1994 was my first event”, recalls the former President of AEGEE-Eindhoven and AEGEE TV founder. He has to smile when he says that he was not an expert in European matters then – which changed a lot later. “I went there with Stephan van Uijtregt and John Stienen, also from Eindhoven. Nobody mentioned that there was a war going on in Croatia…”

Also another Honorary Member, Philipp von Klitzing from Aachen, started with an SU, as well as Jordi Capdevila from Barcelona, who became President of AEGEE-Europe in 1996. Jens-Erik Weber from AEGEE-Konstanz, who created the first website of AEGEE-Europe in 1994, went to an SU as first event as well. However, he did not have to apply for it: the Summer University took place in his university city. “My first event outside my antenna was either the Space 4 congress in Delft or a congress about media in Nuremberg”, Jens-Erik adds.

Among the more recent members, who began with an SU, are Marko Grdosic, ex-President of AEGEE-Europe from Zagreb, CD assistant Zsófia Komáromi (AEGEE-Budapest), Agora fair organiser Patricia Juhl Anthony and former NetCom speaker Olga Iatsyna. Some people, who started with an SU, even became SUCT members, such as Thorsten Schaßan.

It is surely no surprise that for 23 percent of the members a local event or activity represents the first contact. If you add the 5 percent of members, whose first event was an international conference in the home city, it adds up to 28 percent. The most impressive answer was given by Philippe Micaelli: “My first event was the foundation event in Paris in 1985.”

Espe Rodriguez Medina’s first event was an international training.

You might be surprised to hear how many AEGEE members started with an Agora. 13 percent of the respondents began in this way. For example former AEGEE-Europe President Mark de Beer. Also former CD member Christophe Leclercq, who became famous for organizing AEGEE jobfairs and founded the Brussels-based news agency Euractive, took this path: “My first event was Agora München 1986, the first Agora ever. I already knew most Sciences Po organisers of EGEE I in Paris 1985, but… I was then studying in the US, preparing Erasmus Mundus.” Among the well-known more recent members are Anca Odobleja and Elena Toader, but in general the number of people who started with an Agora, has decreased.

Five percent went to an international training, like a European School, as a first – which sounds very strange, since usually these events are reserved for people who want to use their knowledge in the local board or an international team. Nevertheless there are some who started like this, for example Espe Rodriguez Medina, current President of the Audit Commission at AEGEE. Or Orsolya Balogh, former PR Director of AEGEE-Europe. Also Birgit Weck, former President of AEGEE-Mainz/Wiesbaden: “My first event was ES 1 in Canakkale – and it’s still the best one I ever visited.”

Alexander Sieber went hitch-hiking on an exchange.

Among the category “Others” (9 percent) clearly exchanges dominate. “My first event was an exchange with AEGEE-Utrecht”, says former Network Commissioner Alexander Sieber from Kaiserslautern. “We went hitch-hiking – which was for me the main motivation to go.” For former CD member Miroslava Ganzarcikova it was an exchange between AEGEE-Bratislava and AEGEE-Dublin. Former NetCom Bernhard Mitterlehner from Vienna, on Facebook known as Börni Pascha, said: “My first external event was in 2004 – an exchange in Maastricht with AEGEE Berlin and Lublin. But the Regional Meeting 2005 in Bayreuth made me active, followed by AEGEE 20 in Praha and my first Agora in Izmir.”

Mariella started with a visit to The Hague – and went to every kind of event since then.

There were a lot of original replies in the “Others” category. “My very first AEGEE activity was the Beyond Europe Case Study Trip to South Africa”, recalls Mathieu Soete, currently Speaker of the Environmental Working Group and newly appointed Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe. Lorenz Spillner, AEGEE legend from Aachen, also had such an amazing initiation experience: “It was a promotion trip of the East West Working Group to Moskva and St. Petersburg. From St. Petersburg we later continued this journey together to the PM in Turku. This was in September 1992.”

Suzanna Shamakhyan’s first event was at the same time the first event of her antenna: “When AEGEE-Yerevan was being established I was on some discussions about establishing the antenna!” Also Chair Team member and law doctor Mariella Rapa answered “Other”: “My first event was a legal event organised by AEGEE Amsterdam which included a visit to The Hague”. She concludes with a smile: “From them on, I managed to attend all of the above.”

 You can read more replies and see the complete survey here: https://www.facebook.com/questions/407811465943025