Last weekend AEGEE’s first online Agora – AEGEE’s biannual general member’s assembly – took place. Initially, we would have travelled with a large delegation to Yerevan in Armenia. This year, however, we had to have a digital version of this fantastic event. Luckily we can yet travel to Armenia next year!
It was exciting, of course, a digital Agora. Not only because our own Marlijn was candidate – and elected – as member of the Mediation Commission, but also because an online event with more than 300 participants had to be organised in a short amount of time. Thanks to the special effort of the Chair Team, Juridical Commission (JC), Comité Directeur (CD) and others the event was a great success! Aside from some minor hiccups, the sessions went very smoothly. Participants didn’t hesitate to ask the candidates for the new CD and Network Commission many questions. The digital environment didn’t stop the participants from being critical, nor from having fun, such as during the social programme that was organised during the evenings. The popcorn did not stay untouched either.
The plenaries and prytania weren’t the only places where the delegates debated. There were heavy discussions behind the scenes as well. The Chair Team streamed all sessions via Discord, so that everybody could follow the Agora – perhaps this was the most inclusive Agora ever? The proposal of the Summer University Coordination Team (SUCT) to open Summer Universities to externals especially caused a lot of debate. This proposal was eventually not accepted, but it was close.
After an intense session in which the candidates had to answer many questions in little time, it was time to vote. The election was nerve wracking and the result showed that every vote counts. Elena Efremova, who had just before lost the race for Secretary General of AEGEE-Europe to Veronika Chlemarova, had applied for the remaining position in the Comité Directeur. The result surprised everybody: she had barely enough votes (literally 50% +1 vote) to be elected! She was luckier than Oguzhan Ayhan, who did not get enough votes to become Financial Director. There is now an Open Call for that position.
An Agora is not only a place to elect the candidates for the European level of AEGEE and to discuss proposals, but also a social gathering where you can meet AEGEEans from all over Europe. Although a digital Agora could never capture or match the amazing atmosphere of a physical Agora, many AEGEEans did their best to make a great evening programme. On Friday there was the (in)famous pub quiz by Calvin from AEGEE-Sheffield and a Eurovision Party by AEGEE-Zagreb, co-hosted by our own board member Julian. On Saturday there was an LGBTI+ Hangout, a Cocktail party by AEGEE-Madrid and a European Night by SUCT. On Sunday the Agora closed during the morning plenary, so after that we could party the whole day, with a fun music festival by AEGEE-Amsterdam, where many artists from the whole AEGEE network performed!
All in all this Agora showed the real AEGEE spirit. The willpower and flexibility of AEGEEans, the enormous effort and passion that members put into AEGEE and the will to come together at all costs, even in difficult times. AEGEE has learned a lot from the first online Agora. This will be a very useful experience for the future!