EPM Barcelona: a review by our one and only Arend-Jan

Hello dear AEGEEans,

When you think of Barcelona, what do you think of? La Sagrada Familia? Sangria? Of course, but I also think of something else! When I think of Barcelona, I think of the European Planning Meeting that took place in February! Do you want to know what it was like? Then keep reading! And like always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at europeanaffairs@aegee-groningen.nl!

A European Planning Meeting, what is that?

A European Planning Meeting (EPM) is a meeting with 200 AEGEEans from all over Europe, where we plan the Action Agenda for the following year, based on the Strategic Plan. Every three years, a new Strategic Plan is made in AEGEE-Europe, just like AEGEE-Groningen does. This is the long-term plan for AEGEE-Europe, where both organizational and thematic Focus Areas are set. These thematic Focus Areas is what we mostly talked about. As the new Strategic Plan for 2020-2023 has just been written, we had new thematic Focus Area’s and this made the EPM extra interesting. These new Focus Areas are the following:

  • Climate Emergency
  • Mental Health
  • Social Equity
  • Political Activism

Like said before, based on these Focus Areas, we determined the Action Agenda. This is the planning for one year, starting in August. More concrete ideas are suggested to make sure that the goals of the Strategic Plan are carried out during the year. Next to that, the EPM also contained many workshops on the theme of Social Inclusion, more specifically in terms of Mental Health, Youth Participation and Gender Equality. The goal: having ‘No one left behind’! Of course, not a single AEGEE event comes without parties. We enjoyed parties with 200 people from all over Europe and the best party of all: the European Night!

So what did the days look like?

The 5th of February was only an arrival day, which is the moment you say hi to your AEGEE friends from all across the network, claiming your spot in the cosy gym we slept at. Then, like at any big event, there was the opening ceremony with a traditional dance (we even got to join them!) and of course, like any night, a big party! The night started off with a bit of waiting in front of the party venue, which sounds awful, but which was not the case. My tip: look for the people with the booze and it’ll all be fine… 😉

Of course, parties are nice, but then you realize that waking up early after parties is a bit rougher than expected. After everyone managed to wake up and to eat some breakfast (or slept longer, as that was needed more than food), it was time for the opening plenary! This included an introduction on Social Inclusion, followed by a panel discussion with local experts. Then, we had workshops we could choose from, such as mental health of the youth in Europe and gender violence victims, looking at the social inclusion of women. Afterwards, we all had the chance to score some AEGEE merchandise at      the AEGEE fair! They even had new sweaters in the beautiful colour red! After those sessions, we had another parallel slot of workshops. I went to a really interesting one about the stereotypes we carry with us, facing your own prejudices.

On Friday we started the day with workshops again, but after that, the drafting of the Action Agenda finally started! First we got to find out about the new Focus Areas in the World Café, where we wrote down our first ideas for every Focus Area. Afterwards, we had to choose one of them, to go more in depth and do the real drafting. In my opinion these were the most interesting sessions, as this is where you get the chance to come up with good ideas and make some real impact on the future of our association. We did this in two sessions, on Friday and Saturday, and both times we had to present our ideas to the rest of the EPM, in order to receive feedback. The documents we drafted in those two days will be guiding to make the new Action Agenda. This will be a first step in making sure that AEGEE-Europe will do the best job possible at achieving the goals in the new Strategic Plan.

Then, on Saturday night, there was, of course, the best party of every European event… The European Night! Through sharing food and sharing a few too many drinks, it was the perfect opportunity for cultural exchange and most of all, having the best night of the EPM! After surviving this night, there was one last obstacle to face: Storm Chiara! Margriet and I luckily survived the rough, but surprisingly soft landing and Aleksandra luckily made it home as well after an unplanned night in a Spanish hotel. All in all, we had a great trip together, met many new people and learned a lot of new things in the meantime!

When can I sign up for those events?

All big events can be found in MyAEGEE, but you can always approach me or send me an email! You might want to sign up for Agora Moscow this autumn, in a few months you can apply for this. An Agora is an amazing event with about 800 people, which will give you really good insights in our association!

See you soon,

Arend-Jan

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