A number worth celebrating, Central European Convention happening for the 40th time, made us think about its beginning. Email by email, we were lucky to reach one of the founders of this event, Mario Kauzlarić. Here is what he shared in our interview.
So here we are. The CEC was founded in the year 1998. It was the IAESTE Annual Conference in 1998, held in Cardiff, Wales. An informal talk between Thomas Haim (National Secretary of IAESTE Austria, at that time) and me happened. We thought it’s interesting to share some ideas between student-run IAESTE countries, as most of us have common attitude towards IAESTE.
While comparing some data, we realised that many IAESTE countries in our Central European region are not that far in any sense, including territorial sense. Within a circle of 500 km, there were at least 6 IAESTE countries run by students. So my suggestion was: let’s see if we can have informal gathering of IAESTE countries, which will interested in such meeting. Then I approached some members of IAESTE Slovenia and Thomas approached members of IAESTE Hungary. Their reaction was positive!
The only thing left to decide was what part of year is best for such meeting, and we agreed on middle spring. I invited those 3 IAESTE countries to Croatia, to Tuheljske toplice. We arranged rather cheap accomodation and meals. All 4 countries agreed that everybody will travel by cars or small buses, because it was easily reachable for everyone.
And the initial CEC happened in May 1998, only 4 months after!
We organized some Workgroups – how a National Committee is structured, how LCs work, about funding sources, marketing, member recruitment and summer reception. We had many participants, around 20 from Austria, 10 from Slovenia and 10 from Hungary, and 35 from Croatia, so many Workgroups were productive. Even our first “Get Together” – Summer reception event was agreed that summer at our Adriatic coast! We also organized some social games, outside and at the pool.
Everyone was so motivated after this CEC and made such memories, that they wanted to have the next CEC within the same year! We agreed to have it in Ober-Alpendorf (Austria), in early December 1998. Together we agreed that IAESTE Czech Republic and IAESTE Slovakia can join us. And since then, every following CEC was growing and receiving members from more countries. CEC was an event for LC members, most of which have never experienced an international IAESTE event (like AC, SID…etc.), so this was the perfect place to feel it.
On the Annual Conference in 1999, we formally informed all IAESTE member countries that CEC is an official IAESTE event in Central Europe.
That’s how it started in the beginning. Hope to see you one day again on a CER event!