Agora Krakow 2018: the full story

Last April, the Spring Agora took place in the charming city of Krakow. The Agora is the General Members Assembly of AEGEE-Europe during which about 850 members from all locals across  Europe gather in one city to debate on thematic topics, discuss in which direction AEGEE should head and party like there’s no tomorrow.

This was my third Agora in a row and well, it was as intense as it was entertaining and fun. So, you know I’ll be first in line to visit the Autumn Agora in Istanbul from the 3rd of October to the 7th. This was my third time as a delegate as well.

Since I was a delegate along with Mark & Nikki, the Agora began two weeks earlier for us. Various documents such as candidatures for Comite Directeur (CD), the board of AEGEE-Europe, commissions and committees, proposals, motions and Activity reports are published beforehand. These documents are discussed during the Pre-agora evening in Groningen where all members of our association can convey their opinion to the delegates to make sure that their opinion is taken into account of when voting. This is done so that delegates can make an educated decision based on all information available and opinions while voting and vote on behalf of the AEGEE-Groningen.

Being a delegate is quite a ride! it helps one step out of their comfort zone, to ask proposal makers and candidates for important positions the tough questions, to hold them responsible. It’s quite a challenge as you speak in front of the entire agora. Furthermore, you get to know your fellow delegates really well and become even closer friends!

Tuesday: Day 1
I arrived one day in advance and so I took part in the city tour organized by AEGEE-Krakow in the morning. Afterwards, I arrived at our sleeping quarters (which was a large gym where everyone slept together with sleeping bags and air mattresses), where I met the rest of the AEGEE-Groningen crew! For the first time there were some essential sessions during the afternoon before the agora had been opened like: the workshop on Agora for newbies, the importance of the free media and the role of the media in Europe and International cooperation in Europe.

That evening we dressed to look our finest as the opening ceremony took place. We were treated to an amazing opening ceremony filled with great music, a mind blowing dance act and a beautiful recreation of the Agora Krakow logo with fireworks! After the opening ceremony, it was time for the first party of this Agora; the Godfather party.

Wednesday: Day 2

Be prepared because early days and late nights are very typical for Agorae. The day started with the opening plenary where the President of AEGEE-Europe took to the stage to welcome us to the Agora. This was followed by the famous roll call, where every local present during the Agora gets a chance to shine (AEGEE-Groningen chose to sing ‘Gras van het Noorderplantsoen’). Besides, various candidates, procedures for voting and the general procedures of the Agora were also presented. The Human Resources Committee was represented by our own Patricia de Vos on stage, who explained to us what the HRC will be doing during the Agora and also briefed us on the Agora mentorship project.

Afterwards, it was time for Workshops like EU careers and the role of the Youth in the Turkish –Armenian civic dialogue. Simultaneously, we also had three prytania. These are sessions during which various proposals, activity reports and plans are discussed and questioned. Being a delegate guaranteed me speaking rights which I gladly used when questioning the merit of proposals and assessing important motions. I visited the prytania on the addition of the role of the content manager to the SUCT (Summer University Coordination Team). Afterwards, I quickly moved to another prytania which was attended by Mark where the CD presented their interim activity report.

After a lunch break, we had some very interesting workshops and panels besides the prytania where a bunch of proposals were discussed upon. A very interesting panel discussion took place on a comparative analysis of democracy in Europe and Asia.

And then, it was time for the main event of Day 2: the Evening plenary! Normally the candidates for CD would have to present themselves during this plenary. However, due to a last minute addition of another applicant (Viola ) for, which the Agora approved in a two third majority, this was pushed to the evening plenary of the next day. During this plenary the candidates for President (Matis and Spyros ), secretary general (Monika ) and treasurer (Luca  and Oguzhan would have to present themselves, their qualifications and experience in front of the Agora. This is the moment to ask critical questions towards candidates. As always, It was also a quite tense situation for us delegates as well. Because the time during which delegates can walk towards the stage is limited to a few seconds, all delegates run towards the stage at once when the question time opens. This usually results in loads of delegates running frantically to the stage in fear of losing their opportunity to question their desired candidate.

After the presentation of the secretary general and the treasurer, it was time for the Presidential debate. Something very applaud worthy was the way how the two candidates presented what they brought to the table when it came qualifications, set of skills and the future of AEGEE without offending the other all the while being respectful. It became clear that it was up to the Agora to pick which candidate they preferred based on their capabilities.

That night it was time for the Madagascar party during which everyone dressed wildly! Needless to say, it was a night of heavy partying.

 Thursday: Day 3

After having breakfast at around 7:30 in the morning while fighting back tiredness and a heavy hangover, I headed towards the morning plenary. However, before heading towards the plenary, I visited a park nearby every morning to film the Agora vlogs and to have a moment of serenity. During this plenary the candidates for the Network Commission and Juridical Commission presented their candidatures. Once the question line opened for the candidates for the Network commission, there was a stampede of delegates running towards the question line. Due to the large amount of delegates, the question line was cut short and the rule was implemented that only one delegate from a local was allowed to ask a question to the dissatisfaction of the Agora and the delegates. Our own Lisette  was one of the three members who presented her candidature to be in the juridical commission (JC). She confidently presented her set of skills and what she wanted to do in the JC.

Following the coffee break, there were multiple prytania and workshops to choose from. The workshop on youth participation and election perspectives in Europe was really captivating and relevant. While three prytania each focussed on a variety of topics. From Activity report of the various commissions and the Summer University Coordination Team to the proposal on the Antenna Criteria reform, all topics were discussed. In the prytanium of the Antenna Criteria reform, it became very clear that the prytanium was divided on the proposal with a small majority against the proposal that would completely overhaul all existing structures and rules in place. During the prytanium on the presentation of the Activity Report of the various commissions and SUCT, the SUCT was very heavily questioned on their multiple mistakes made during the course of their term up until this moment.

During the evening plenary, the results of the various prytania were presented and the candidates for member of the CD presented themselves and their candidature. All candidates presented their vision for the future of AEGEE and how they felt they can contribute towards a stronger AEGEE in the future. During the question round, various tough questions were asked to all candidates regarding their experience, skills and vision. Afterwards, it was time for everyone to leave the great plenary room except for the delegates…..Why? Because it was time to VOTE!

Indeed! Mark, Nikki and myself sat back and relaxed as we watched everyone else leave the room. Rules specify that only delegates are allowed in the room while voting takes place. Then, we voted.

Once I had fulfilled my duties, it was time for the third party of the Agora: The Mad Scientist and Doctor Party! This party was not only creepy because of how everyone dressed but the location of the party was quite unique as well! It fit the theme really well!!

Friday: Day 4

Alright! Waking up this morning was really difficult! Thankfully, after a relaxing walk in the park and having finished a 0.5L bottle of orange flavoured Fanta I was ready to go!

The day kicked off with the morning plenary during which it was announced that none of the candidates for the financial director had acquired an absolute majority and therefore a second round of voting had to take place. Following that announcement a motion was passed to re-open the candidature for the position of financial director of AEGEE-Europe so that more candidates would consider running for the position in order for the Agora to have more choice. Once the motion had passed a second motion was introduced to announce the results of the presidential elections so that one of the presidential candidates would consider running for the position of Financial Director. This motion passed as well! Spyros was elected as the president of AEGEE-Europe.

Following the SUCT prytanium of the previous day, 13 locals proposed a motion during the morning plenary to evoke a Vote of Confidence. The locals wanted to know if the other locals present during the agora shared their feeling or if the rest still had enough trust and faith in the functioning of the SUCT. A short yet intense debate ensued during which the SUCT, the CD and the proposers defended their reasons for evoking this motion after which all locals voted on the Vote of Confidence. It was later revealed that the Agora still did trust and believe in the SUCT to keep them in office.

That afternoon during lunch we met with our Network Commissioner Maria and all other locals in the Nedertop. The Nedertop is a combination of AEGEE locals within and outside the Netherlands comprising of Amsterdam, Delft, Eindhoven, Enschede, Groningen, Leiden, Nijmegen, Tilburg, Utrecht, Maastricht, Manchester, London, Stockholm and Sheffield. During this get-together we met again with other members of the Nedertop area and talked about upcoming activities in each local. This is one of the ideal places to meet and get to know other Nedertop members, board members and sub-commissioners. This is also accessible for members. So, do take advantage of this opportunity in getting to know other members in the network.

Afterwards, it was time for the evening plenary, during which it was announced that Matis had indeed put himself forward for the position of financial director. Given the fact that a new candidate had applied for the position, complete new elections had to take place for the position of Financial Director. So, the three candidates were asked to come forward to answer questions from the Agora and to present themselves. Afterwards, we stayed back while everyone else went to dinner to vote.

Once I had done what had to be done, it was time for the fourth party of the Agora: The High School Cliché Party!

Saturday: Day 5

The last day started with a couple of parallel slots. Among the slots was AEGEE-inspire, an open podium event during which AEGEEans could share their stories on how AEGEE helped improve them. During the afternoon it was time for the famous AEGEE-fair where a large amount of AEGEE-bodies had their own stand to present themselves. It was the ideal weather for the fair as it was sunny and warm.

Then it was time for the very last plenary, the closing plenary. First a couple of twin antennas (Passau & Delft, Cagliari & Bamberg and more!) came forward to renew their commitment to each other by signing another twin antenna agreement for a year while a couple of locals signed a twin antenna agreement for the first time.

A Twin Local Agreement is signed when two locals agree to partner with each other more often and plan on cooperating much more with each other by organizing exchanges and activities with each other. The main aim of a Twin Local is to create a greater sense of friendship and cultural exchange between two Locals. Usually before and after the signing of the agreement, the members of both locals showcase their mutual bond and friendship by singing, dancing and celebrating together on stage.

It was then time for the presentation of the activity plan of upgraded contacts and the to-be locals. Our own Jelmer Wiersma presented the plan for the to-be upgraded contact Stockholm and signed the Convention d’Adhesion to become AEGEE-Stockholm. Afterwards, the network commissioner presented the network status update which revealed that our network has 159 locals.

The contract for the Autumn Agora Istanbul was signed. After which the CD took to the stage to reveal that AEGEE-Izmir will organize the EPM 2019. We then moved on to the voting results presented by the Juridical Commission on the big screen which led to gasps from the crowd. Lisette Kunst was elected president of the Juridical Commission of AEGEE-Europe!! Have a look at the European News Flash mail for a more detailed account on which proposals and candidates made it through.

Just as I was about to leave the room all the organizers of AEGEE-Krakow and all the helpers stormed the stage to have a final say and give us a parting gift. This gift was a beautifully edited aftermovie of this awesome Agora which will be released to the public soon.

It was then time…. It was time for the wildest night of them all! The European Night! With about 850 participants bringing their traditional food and drinks, it was going to be lit! Once I had tasted almost every food on the tables, drank almost every drink (some of which were quite difficult to drink) and danced until I was tired, I arrived at one realization: I had been to 3 European nights with more than 800 participants and this was the best and well-organized of them all!!

And then it was over. Just like that. And all I was left with were new friends, great experiences and the possibility of doing it all again in Agora Istanbul! So do it!! Join Agora Istanbul from the 3rd to the 7th of October 2018!