How do I actually pronounce AEGEE? What does the acronym mean?
The acronym AEGEE is of French origin and therefore should be pronounced [ah-eh-ʒeh]. It stands for “Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe” which translates as European students’ forum.
What activities make up most part of an AEGEE membership?
A member of AEGEE has lots of various activities to choose from. He or she can attend regular meetings, keep in touch with other AEGEE-Praha members, and attend our parties and events. The member may also be involved – directly or indirectly – in the decision making and organizing. Once in a while, it is possible to go to the cottage, mountains or to some other event that we organize, usually with international participation. Furthermore, the membership entitles people to attend tens of workshops, conferences, trips, language courses, seminars, and projects that are held throughout the year all over Europe. There is also a possibility to take part in exchanges with the other AEGEE antennas in various European cities and towns, to host foreign AEGEE-members in Prague, or to travel individually and visit friends abroad.
What types of people join AEGEE? What is a typical member like?
AEGEE is an interdisciplinary organization (contrary to, for instance, law or medical students’ organizations), therefore the membership structure is very varied in Europe as well as in the Czech Republic. It is primarily the main idea and hobbies such as travelling, exploring new countries and cultures, meeting people, a will to be involved in something interesting, and motivation to change something, that connects AEGEE members. Among them are students and graduates from the Charles University, University of Economics, Czech Technical University, Czech University of Life Sciences, and other institutions. National structure is very varied as well. AEGEE members come from countries lying from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caspian Sea and from the Baltic Sea to the Apennines.
How many members are there in AEGEE-Praha?
Number of members is about 150. It is not possible to meet all of them at one meeting, since some of them may be somewhere abroad or occupied with work, therefore, it is more likely to meet them at events. We are accompanied by our friends who are not formally members, however, they are actively involved in number of activities.
Is it necessary to attend the meetings? What happens there?
Attendance at the meetings is not compulsory. Nevertheless, by not attending, you deprive yourself not only of participation in the decision making and event planning, but also of interesting presentations, recommendations, and experiences of other members, and, last but not least, of good party that follows right away. That is why attendance is highly recommended.
Is it possible to combine AEGEE membership with studies and work?
Absolutely, without problem. It is true that the organization offers so many opportunities that it would come in handy if a year had 15 months, but the membership itself is not much time-consuming. Nobody is obliged to work, any help is based strictly on a voluntary basis. It is up to the members what they like to do and how or where they can contribute. However, any initiative and willingness is much appreciated and in this regard, AEGEE offers its support to everyone. Still, the most important thing is to have lots of fun and, at the same time, to take part in something useful and interesting.
Are there any conditions for membership?
The meetings and events are basically open to everyone. If you want to take part in some of the AEGEE-Praha’s international events, it is necessary to become a member. It is pretty easy, you just have to fill in an application form, register in the intranet and pay a fee of 500 CZK. After that, you become a full member. We don’t keep the money, it goes to AEGEE headquarter in Brussels which distributes the money among specific projects.
Is it necessary to be a member in order to take part in AEGEE-Praha events?
No, the events organized by AEGEE-Praha are open to everyone. You can come and see by yourself how AEGEE works, meet the people, take part in some of the events held across the Czech Republic and only then decide whether you will join us.
I have other than Czech nationality. Is it an obstacle?
The very nature of AEGEE is based on diversity and understading, so any new culture contribution is welcome! The diversity is reflected in the membership base because the members are mostly active students like you, who have travelled a good deal of the world, experienced a lot, and definitely don’t lack tolerance. It is not necessary to speak good Czech, however, AEGEE offers a great opportunity to practise the language with open and tolerant native speakers. The membership is not limited only to Czech students – on the contrary, national diversity is typical for a big part of Boards in Europe, Praha included.
Do I have to speak any particular language? What language is spoken in AEGEE?
Even though the name is originally French, you don’t even need to know how to say „Bonjour“. Not even a good level of English is necessary. Official meetings are usually held in Czech language, but if we have a foreign visit, we speak in English. Therefore, AEGEE meeting offer a great opportunity to get better in a foreign language in a relaxed and casual atmosphere.
Do I have to study at any particular university in order to become a member?
The only obligation is to be either a current or former student of any university or higher technical school. Among our members are young working people as well as foreigners currently spending time in Praha, often as a part of an exchange program. You don’t have to be a student, we are open to everyone, graduates included!
What is the legal status of AEGEE? Is it associated with an institution?
AEGEE-Praha, reg’d. assoc., is a registered association with its own legal subjectivity. It is an independent organization, which cooperates with many partners, including educational institutions, EU bodies, partner companies, non-governmental organizations, and also private individuals. Space and support is provided by the University of Economics in Praha, where our office is to be found. The seat is convenient for us especially thanks to its central location (close to Muzeum and Hlavni nadrazi metro stops).
I have already heard about the AIESEC organization. Is AEGEE something similar?
AEGEE is a students’ organization (not only) for students, just as AISEC. Despite some similarities, style of functioning differs in many ways. Our activity is „limited“ only to Europe and bordering countries, AEGEE unites students of various aimings and skills, and it doesn’t have any national level since its cornerstones are individual university towns and its members. AEGEE membership is based solely on voluntary basis and is not obliged to any compulsory work or responsibility. We value our members for their personalities, not for their participation. Among our greatest benefits are active cooperation with the European institutions, interculture exploring, wide scope, and the opportunity for improving language, managerial, and travel skills of our members.
Is it necessary to actively work in AEGEE?
AEGEE is about opportunities, not obligations. Instead of a hierarchy, it is a big group of friendly people who like to have fun together and who voluntarily participate in organizing interesting events not only for AEGEE-Praha members, but also for our European friends or even wide public. It is your choice to what extent you want to be actively involved, every member’s activity is solely his or her own decision. Nevertheless, there is an executive branch – Board – whose members are elected for one year and who have certain rights and responsibilities.
How does an AEGEE meeting work? Are the meetings always the same?
The meetings are held every week on Wednesday, room RB 210 at the University of Economics in Prague. There is always a different topic, we have four types of meetings:
- travel meetings
- educational and specialized workshops
- news from AEGEE world
Every meeting is followed by an informal part, which is an opportunity to meet the members in a relaxed environment and to learn about everything from the first hand. If you want to know what is going to happen at upcoming meeting, follow our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AEGEE.Praha) and join our FB group (www.facebook.com/groups/185859104936632/).
What is Board and how does it work?
Board is the nonprofit organization’s executive branch. It is composed of several members, usually of about 6, who have deeper interest in ensuring functioning of the organization and in developing AEGEE’s opportunities and also their own skills. They are concerned with organizing activities, human resources, fundraising and strategic partnerships, bookkeeping, general coordination, and so forth. The other members take part in various thematic projects and educational programs and have a chance to lead them. Several times a year, the Board representatives take part in European sessions held in some of the Europe’s capitals.
What is actually „antenna“?
In AEGEE terminology, antenna describes a local office which meets the highest level of evaluation criteria. These include, besides other things, organizing Summer universities, a variety of activities, or qualifications. AEGEE-Praha meets all these requirements. Lower levels are so-called Contact antennas and Contacts which have lower requirements, but don’t possess voting rights at Europe-wide assemblies. In most cases, those represent the first stage of the promotion process to fully-fledged antennas in case of AEGEE branches that are new and still developing.
I would like to try out organizing an event. Is there such a possibility in AEGEE?
If you want to organizae an event, AEGEE is the great opportunity. We plan lots of interesting activities of all kinds at our meetins and informal gatherings, from the thematic meetings, barbecue, joint trips, or sport events to those big events such as the Summer universties. Every help is warmly welcome and you can count on good team and insightful advice of the experienced members.
What are the Summer Universities?
The idea of Summer universities was established in the 80s to support travelling and interculture exploring of young people. Students organize about two week long stay in their country for other students (a mixed group of about 30 people from all around Europe). Participants have a chance to get to know local culture and way of life and to build new friendships. The events are thematically focused (for instance on dance, music, languages, sport, history, and so forth) and costs usually don’t exceed 200 euros, food and accommodation included. Many of our former members say that the two weeks spent at the Summer University have been the best weeks of the whole year, and they take part every year again and again. Apart from the valuable contacts from the whole Europe, they have experienced the foreign country in a way that not everyone is lucky enough to go through. AEGEE-Praha organizes its own Summer University on a regular basis as well, sometimes with cooperation with some of the neighbouring offices.
Is it possible to travel with AEGEE? Does it arrange excursions or something similar?
AEGEE does not work as a travel company, it is a valuable platform where you can gain interesting contacts and friends from all over Europe and take part in tens of exciting events held from Portugal to Ural. The events are organized by students for students and their purpose is not a financial gain. That’s why AEGEE events represent a very favourable way how to explore other countries compared to other types of travelling. However, the main advantage is something else: while abroad, you are not being viewed as a tourist, but rather as a friend, so you get to places that might stay hidden to other people. Not speaking about the way how you get to know the culture and language! Current members will be happy to share their useful travel experiences. Whoever has travelled somewhere with AEGEE, has gotten bored to death with travelling with a travel agency.
In which European cities can I find local organizations?
The local offices are scattered almost across the whole Europe and also a bit beyond, for instance in Turkey, Georgia, Armenia or Azerbaijan.
How does AEGEE-Praha cooperate with the other offices in Europe?
There are many possibilities to cooperate between AEGEE-Praha and the other offices. Let’s mention Europe-wide conferences, regional thematical meetings (Central Europe), few day exchanges with some other city, so called Summer Universities, and other events across the continent, affordable for everyone. Some of the events are attended by a bigger group from Praha, else the members travel individually. The events are optional, but the experiences show that once you take part, you will want to go almost certainly again.
Do you organize internhips in other countries?
Scope of AEGEE activities is not arranging internships, however, thanks to our Europe-wide network, in this respect, it can serve as a platform for gaining many interesting contacts as well as advice and tips from our experienced members.
I don’t know anybody in AEGEE, can I still join?
This question lacks the very meaning – AEGEE is based on the idea of meeting new people with similar hobbies and goals. Everyone who came for the first time, was once a newcomer. Every member can confirm that after two or three meetings they have felt in AEGEE at home and if it would have been possible, they would had joined AEGEE sooner.
I want to see how AEGEE works. What should I do?
If you don’t want to miss out on anything that happens in AEGEE, follow our FB page (www.facebook.com/AEGEE.Praha) and join our FB group (www.facebook.com/groups/185859104936632/) where you find what type of meeting is planned for the upcoming week, its place and time. Our regular meetings are held every Wednesday in room RB 210, mostly at the University of Economics (nám. Winstona Churchilla 4). The doors are open to everyone, guests and those interested are warmly welcome. Every meeting is followed by an informal get-together in a nearby pub to have casual talks about all kinds of things.