Autumn Agora 1997 saw the dawn of AEGEE-Valletta. The city of Ankara gave birth to our antenna. The founding President Roger Bugeja had come across AEGEE by co-incidence while attending an ESIB seminar. 6 months of preparation and ground work led him to sign the Convension D’Adehsion (in Ankara). From that moment onwards, AEGEE-Valletta has steered the lives of many. The following is a short chronological description of the major events.
The first European event is always the hardest, it serves to break the ice and set a trend. And this is what precisely the Summer University of 1998 did. Moreover in Autumn Agora Hamburg 1998 AEGEE-Valletta was also officially recognised as an Antenna. The group of the founding fathers apart from the initial and all important ground work of setting up an organisation, organised very successful conferences which contributed not only to enrol more new members but also to build an image to our antenna. In 2000 AEGEE-Valletta was already awarded ‘Għarfien Nazzjonali Żgħażagħ fis-Soċjeta Award’ (The National Recognition for Youth Work in Society Award) by the Parliamentary Secretariat for Youth and Sport in the Ministry of Education.
However, AEGEE-Valletta was to go a step further in September 2001. In fact, the first Autumn Action Europe Planning Meeting took place in Malta. It was the biggest event our antenna had organised which further galvanized the international reputation of AEGEE-Valletta.
Time paled out the main actors but not the spirit. The more time passed the higher the level of professionalism of our events grew. Indeed our Summer Universities have been greatly sought and year after year they are voted as one of the best around Europe. 2002 saw also the birth of the Winter Event to celebrate the antenna’s 5th Anniversary. The event was of great success and was re-organised also in 2003. The organisation of ‘UniDebate’ also gave AEGEE-Valletta the best event award in Europe related to the year plan project.
In March 2005 AEGEE-Valletta reached another milestone when we organised the first ever European Boards’ Meeting in AEGEE History. Needless to say, the event went down in AEGEE-Europe’s history since, in Agora Izmir, it was voted Best Event 2005 and took the AEGEE XX Award. This award was rightly celebrated with the successful organisation of the 3rd Winter Event.
In the next 2 years AEGEE-Valletta has grown drastically. The number of local members is always on the increase and events multiplied. AEGEE-Valletta also took a leading role as the host organisation for Erasmus & International students, studying at the University of Malta. Fortnight parties, cultural tours, monthly debates and sports tournaments are only a few events of the numerous events that are organised. Such hard work paid off since AEGEE-Valletta was judged as the 2nd best organisation on University of Malta Campus and during the AGORA in Enschede, it was nominated as the 2nd Best European Antenna, out of 260 AEGEE Antennas. Indeed, in the space of 6 months AEGEE-Valletta was rewarded with 3 prestigious rankings and awards.
All these successes resulted in one logical outcome; ONE objective, that of organising AEGEE’s Spring AGORA – Valletta 2007 A Vision for our future. In this statutory AEGEE event, which also coincided with the antenna’s 10th Anniversary; AEGEE-Valletta hosted 600 European members to discuss the future of the association. A cultural post event followed. It is remarkable to note that AGORA Valletta was voted in the following AGORA in Eskisehir Turkey as AEGEE Event of the year 2007.
Following the AGORA, AEGEE-Valletta also celebrated its 10th anniversary by organising a commemorative tree planting activity and a special reception for its ex-board members, alumni, helpers and partners. The celebrations ended in style with the organisation of the fourth Winter Event entitled ‘ReStarring Malta 2007’.
In AGORA Aachen 2008, AEGEE-Valletta was also one of the first antennas to sign a twinning agreement with AEGEE-Kyiv, Ukraine and was hosted and then organised a twinning exchange in the respective countries. In 2008 AEGEE-Valletta also organised a conference entitled ‘Destination Europe’ tackling the issue of immigration.
Network Meeting – Valletta 2009: Meet me where the rainbow ends’ hosted in 2009, once again brought to Malta many board members from all over the continent. It was also the first ever Network Meeting to be supported by the Youth in Action programme of the European Commission.
Twinning Agreement – In October 2008, during AEGEE’s General Network Meeting in Aachen Germany, AEGEE-Valletta’s delegation was the first ever antenna within the AEGEE’s European wide network to sign a twinning agreement with another AEGEE antenna. The chosen partner was AEGEE-Kyiv from Ukraine. To further consolidate our partnership and collaboration agreement during the same General Meeting in Germany it was decided to organise a Youth Exchange between the two antennas so that our members would be given the opportunity to share opinions and ideas, whilst experiencing different cultures and traditions.
Summer Universities (1998-2000, 2002-2006, 2008-2012, 2014) – a 2-week event organised to promote European integration through cultural learning and intercultural living, involving lectures, cultural visits, traditional nights, and leisure activities.
AEGEE 25 – Celebrating Legacies: The event hosted by AEGEE-Valletta was one of 25 events organised around Europe to highlight AEGEE’s accomplishments in the fields of cultural exchange, active citizenship, higher education, peace and stability. The aim of this project was to look at the past, present and future of AEGEE: what has AEGEE done for its members and the European society? How are our projects relating to the European society? And what can be done to develop AEGEE so that the members can contribute more to the European society?
V for Valletta – The Winter Event hosted by AEGEE-Valletta was the first event to kick-start the 15th anniversary celebrations. In December-January 2011/2012, we hosted 30 participants and showed them the gems of our island whilst sharing with them our joy of having reached 15 years of European integration within the AEGEE family.
Fossilized in the heart of the Mediterranean – In September 2011, we hosted a wonderful group of participants from across Europe and together we had a marvellous time visiting our world heritage sights; medieval cities; learning together new cultures; discovering new languages, and having endless parties as only AEGEEeans are capable of doing.
European Boards’ Meeting (2013) – AEGEE-Valletta once again was chosen to host the EBM titled ‘Preserving the Present, Saving our Future’ which focused around the topic ‘The Future of Europe’. The objective was to have members discuss and address the current challenges that Europe is facing. The second part of the event focused on drafting the new Action Agenda from 2013-2014. This event was a great success and even had the patronage of the President of Malta. We also won the National Charlemagne Youth Prize which is a prestigious award aimed at recognizing the work towards European unification.
The Spirit of Malta (2013) – This was the first summer event hosted by AEGEE-Valletta where a group of 25 participants had the opportunity of spending one week no the island. Here we organized cultural activities as well as various sessions on what AEGEE as an institution is all about.
Exchanges (2013 and 2014) – Two exchanges were organized; one with AEGEE- Tilburg and the other with AEGEE- Maribor. Here we had the opportunity of getting to know other antennaes and experiencing their cultures as the AEGEEeans know how.
Brussels educational programme (2013): AEGEE- Valletta had the opportunity to visit the European parliament and to participate in a focus group about the European House of History. This is a project aimed at outlining the European history from the very beginning. The group also had the chance to meet some member of parliament and discuss current affairs.
After 18 successful years AEGEE-Valletta has to look forward to keep up its status locally and amongst AEGEE’s European Network. Hence during this year the Maltese antenna has plans to organize a Summer University which we are sure that with the dedication and commitment of the members and the indispensable support of various partners will once again enhance Malta’s reputation.