Written by Evrim Emiroğlu, Floris Wolff and Perçin İmrek, AEGEE-Eskişehir
In April 2015, AEGEE-Europe had its 30th anniversary. That’s why we in AEGEE-Eskisehir organized a celebration between the 16th and 18th of April together with AEGEE-Aachen, AEGEE-Bergamo, AEGEE-Catania, AEGEE-Kyiv, AEGEE-Leiden & AEGEE-Sofia. Together these seven antennae reorganized ‘The Night of Seven Antenna’s’ (‘N7A’). Reorganized? - yes reorganized, since ‘The Night of Seven Antenna’s’ has already been organized in 1986 to commemorate the first anniversary of AEGEE.
In 1986 seven antennae’s collaborated to organize the first anniversary of AEGEE-Europe. They organized seven events, in seven cities, in one night. As you might know, the seven antennae’s organized an event full of debates, interviews, discussions with high-profile politicians, musical performances and celebrations! The event was broadcasted by satellite streaming for all of Europe to see.
Within AEGEE-Eskisehir the idea of doing something big with regard to the 30th anniversary was there for a long time. Luckily, we were not the only ones with this idea. In August 2014 the Anniversary Team was created with task of reorganizing the Night of the seven antennas. An unique opportunity for us, not just to organize a big event, but also to reach-out to and include the rest of Europe in to our celebration. When AEGEE-Eskisehir responded to the open call, our first aim was to make our local more active and well known in Europe. The board believed that we had the organizational skills and passion to manage an event worthy of the 30th anniversary of AEGEE. ‘N7A’ was an event unique to all AEGEE members and it was the best option for us to achieve our aim of spreading our reputation. We wanted to part of this piece of history. The whole Eskisehir family came together and worked hard, we had an amazing organization team. And, of course, we should be thankful for the Anniversary Team to give us this chance too.
After the Anniversary team give us the mandate to go ahead, we formed our own Anniversary Team as well. As is done more often in our local, the team started small but experienced, and slowly grew in size while it included newer and less experienced members. By the end of it all, the team existed of eleven people. Seven organizers together with four helpers held almost daily meetings to prepare the Night of the Seven Antenna’s in Eskisehir. During the last week, organizers were suffering from severe sleep deprivation issues, since meetings could last up to 22 hours in the final days before the event. These sleep deprivation problems payed out during the event. Fortunately all of the organizers fully recovered from their health problems due to liberal amounts of sleeping hours after the event.
On Friday morning the 16th of April, 35 Europeans joined AEGEE-Eskisehir in celebrating the anniversary. The weekend full of celebrations started with a get-to-know between the city and the participants. In two and half hours the organizers showed Eskisehir, a city full of students, beautiful traditional houses and modern architecture. Students from all over Turkey come to Eskisehir to get higher education and they bring their cultures and talents with them. You can find pieces of our country in each corner of Eskisehir. The participants got to know Eskisehir as Turkey’s most amazing starting point to get to know Turkey. After the participants were convinced beyond any doubt of the greatness of Eskisehir, two workshops were prepared for them in order to get informed about the history of AEGEE by Suzan and about Franck Biancheri, the father and founder of AEGEE-Europe by Alişan Kuloğlu who is a valuable member of Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri.
The first night of the event kicked-off with a dinner and a gala at the SÖR hotel. The evening was attended by the participants, important guest like Mayri Tiido from Comité Directeur, our university teachers who are responsible for AEGEE-Eskisehir, and of course all members of AEGEE Eskisehir. Within the hotel, which was definitely one of the prettiest venues AEGEE-Eskisehir ever had the pleasure of hosting an event in, the evening started with traditional opening-speeches from our president, the main-coordinator, CD member, our university teachers and the hosting duo Ebru and Engin. In the end, the evening was made unforgettable thanks to a variety of contributions from our members. We started off by a game which forced the participants to dance with one another and, as is tradition in Turkey, we danced the night away under to encouragement of a live performing musician, dancer and AEGEE member. To top it all, we had the joy of sharing one of the largest cake in AEGEE history. Unfortunately, for some of the participants the taste of cake was slightly impaired due to an abundance of champagne flying into the air as a way of celebration.
The next morning participants woke up early attend the conference titled ‘The State of Turkish Democracy’ and ‘Europe need Youth.’ For this part I have given the pen - well, actually the key board - to Perçin İmrek, who was kind enough to act as the moderator of the day on our request. For AEGEE members with a bid of AEGEE history memory the name İmrek might sound familiar. Perçin used to be Project Director for AEGEE-Europe.
“Being moderator to such a great event with such composed speakers was a privilege for me. We have had two panel discussions, first one being the involvement of young people in European Citizenship, second one being the state of Turkish democracy, especially towards the concerns of the 'hegemonia' of the leading party in Turkey, AKP.
In the first panel, our speakers explained about the activities they are withholding to include young Turkish citizens into European Citizenship activities, also mentioning the importance of European NGO’s such as AEGEE as a platform to develop young Europeans and the future leaders of Europe. Since the speakers for this panel were also young people, they managed to build a quick link between themselves and the audience.
In the second panel, active stimulation of the audience was not needed, since the topic was very ‘involving’ for the participants, who generally have strong opinions about the democratic deficit in Turkey that emerged due to the attitude of the leading party, AKP. The participants generally stated strong opinions against the actions of the governments, asking the speakers, who were political scientists from universities, on possible solutions and resolutions towards the challenges that the government presents.
With the involvement of experts, and both Turkish and people from other countries, the panel turned out to be a great platform for brainstorming, with directly and indirectly affected hundreds of young Europeans. I can personally say that both sessions, regardless of the controversial topics, passed in a very constructive attitude, which only contributed to the richness and the composure of the discussions. All in all, both panels offered great platforms, both to inform and to inspire the young people who have been a part of this event.”
As you might remember, in the beginning of this article we spoke of the original Night of the seven antenna’s being broadcasted by satellite streaming for all of Europe to see. Today, 29 years later, technology improved and satellites proved to be unnecessary. On Saturday night a live stream was started for all of Europe to see, this time via the internet. Each of the seven antennae’s had 15 minutes to present themselves on the live stream. While the other antennae’s were being broadcasted, we started a cocktail with live music by one of Eskisehir most famous bands. When our time came to be broadcasted we presented ourselves to world by starting off with a speech from Mayri Tiildo, Comité Directeur, and Alişan Kuloğlu, representative of Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri, followed by local dancers, traditional music and Tunak, which surprisingly all other antenna’s joined. During the Tunak there was one dancer who stood out more than the others. Our Massagor used the broadcasting time to show himself to the public. The AEGEE culture has been shown again.
On Sunday morning, the anniversary was concluded by a workshop from our project group called ‘Feel Europe’ that aims to take away prejudices about Europe and Europeans away from Turkish youth. Participants had to work together to come up with answers to questions related to European integration.
In the end, we look back to a very successful event and we are proud to have hosted it. We worked hard, and some of us had some sleep deprivation problems, but the Night of Seven Antenna’s showed us what is possible if Europeans come together and work together: greatness.