The University of Kent has a new European society, AEGEE, which aims to bring together all students interested and passionate about European issues whatever their field of study. It intends to support Britain’s membership in the EU and will be taking part in the Yes campaign as soon as it is launched.
Our society also benefits from the broader network of AEGEE Europe, European Students’ Forum, which is one of the biggest student organisations in Europe and is represented in more than 200 different European cities. Being present at the European level empowers our society members to travel around Europe and meet other students from different European countries and cities during many conferences, exchanges, and summer universities. Indeed, just a few days ago, some of our Committee members were in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine where they discovered the wonders of one of Europe’s most historical and shifting places, and took part in AEGEE Europe’s biannual General Assembly with more than 600 other European students. To find out about their recent trip to Kiev, keep reading!
On Wednesday the 14th of October 2015, four students in Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, set off to Kiev to assist to one of AEGEE Europe’s most important events, its General Assembly, also called AGORA.
Indeed, Emily, Chiara, Marlène and Emir, are all four members of AEGEE Canterbury, UKC’s new European society. AEGEE Canterbury is part of the broader network of AEGEE Europe, one of Europe’s biggest student organizations. As a local of this network, Canterbury must be represented during its biannual General Assemblies, which take place each time in a different European city part of the same network.
The choice of Kiev was very symbolic because it has been two years since the “Euromaidan” revolution took place and it was a way for AEGEE Europe to show that the city is still safe and that it hasn’t become a war field even though UKC students noticed a lot of militaries and tanks present in the city. This choice of city was also meant to show AEGEE Europe’s support towards Ukrainian youth’s demands for more democratization and European integration. Kiev was a life changing experience for UKC’s student because they discovered a whole new side of Europe where life is still greatly influenced by the memory of communism. Kiev is also a very beautiful city and has two UNESCO heritage cites, St Sophia Cathedral and Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery.
Finally Canterbury’s participation in the Autumn Agora in Kiev permitted its recognition inside the AEGEE network after being created only a few months ago. It was also essential to show that despite a rise of Euroscepticism, UK youth still supports Europe and European integration and exchanges.
Emily Zerling, president of AEGEE Canterbury
“As president co-founder of this society, I was proud to introduce to the AEGEE network our local and all the hard work that had been made since it was first created. Also, I was very pleased by the warm welcome that we all received from the different AEGEEs who were very glad of having another local in the UK, which isn’t always very easy since the UK happens to be very reluctant towards Europe.
Participating in such an event also opens one’s horizons, and can change a person’s idea and vision about a whole part of Europe. It is also a huge opportunity to meet and exchange with other students passionate about Europe and European issues.”
Marlène René, social secretary of AEGEE Canterbury
“I joined this society because I love traveling, meeting new people, and discovering new cultures. I am using Ukraine as a case study for my dissertation on the role of youth in liberal democratic transitions. Therefore, going to Kjiv, to the Agora themed on “Building Democracy” and the conference on “Youth Ukraine” were incredible opportunities to enrich my studies. The Youth Ukraine conference was what I enjoyed the most because I had the chance to engage in debates and workshops attended by the representatives of diplomatic missions to Ukraine, the Government of Ukraine and many other public figures. The focus on the importance of youth organizations as a key segment of civil society and the obstacle it faces in Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine, brought up some very interesting ideas that gave me an all new perception of the subject.”
Emir Tan, vice president of AEGEE Canterbury
“AEGEE is a very special society as it offers great projects and activities for those who are interested in campaigning and travelling! For me the AEGEE Agora trip to Kiev, Ukraine was truly rewarding. Not only that I had the opportunity to work with different people from across the Continent but I also had the chance to get informed about the current events happening in the country. AEGEE Agora in Kiev was well organised and well attended. Over 600 people from different AEGEE locals were presented and it was a fantastic surprise to talk with the Minister of Education at the opening ceremony. I believe as members of the European Youth, we have a responsibility to help Ukraine on its struggle for democracy and human rights. Attending to the Agora in Kiev was very special as I observed a country and people full of contradictions and with a will to prosper in the midst of a national conflict. I found the whole trip as rich in culture, ambition and beautiful people! I would love to visit Ukraine again to see how its struggle for identity and plans for future shapes this amazing country.”
Chiara Marino, treasurer of AEGEE Canterbury
“Дякую, which means thanks in Ukrainian. Thanks to AEGEE and my amazing companions from the AEGEE Canterbury committee. AEGEE is the biggest European student forum today. I and the rest of the committee went to Kiev to represent the UK, in particular Canterbury, in the main event of this organization called the AGORA. This general meeting unites young people from all over Europe. It has been an incredible occasion to meet and talk with really interesting people from different culture, especially about our visions on Europe and how we would like to reform and improve it. Kiev in particular, has been selected for his central role in the recent European political debate. As Politics student has been incredibly interesting seeing how the cultural and identity debate is alive in such a controversial country. The theme of this AGORA was “rebuilding democracy”, I am glad that AEGEE Canterbury gave me the opportunity to be a part of this rebuilding process.”
The AEGEE Canterbury team with a special guest from AEGEE contact in Newcastle representing the United Kingdom’s locals at the European night.
THANK YOU AGAIN AEGEE EUROPE FOR THIS AMAZING EXPERIENCE IN KIEV!
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