In December 2018, we welcomed a new dearly beloved member into our family – a hedgehog named Hugo who became the face of AEGEE-Tartu, representing the values and inherent characteristics of its members. Just like many other AEGEEans, Hugo is adventurous and open-minded, always ready to hop on a train to discover new places and spark an interesting conversation. Although he may at first sight appear a bit quiet and reserved, a closer examination reveals deep wisdom and courage coupled with an industrious yet gentle and fun-loving nature. Having been in the service of AEGEE-Tartu for a number of years already, our mascot has acquired a wealth of experience which aids him in guiding and helping the members of the organisation.
To provide a more personal insight into Hugo’s experience, we asked him to narrate the intriguing story of his AEGEE journey in his own words which he recounts as follows:
“I was born in late June, exactly on Midsummer’s Eve, the magical time of the Northern year when the sun never sets and the air abounds in mystery. Together with my siblings, I spent the first months playing games and exploring the forest. Our undeniable favourite was treasure hunting: we would hide small treasures in the forest which the other three siblings would need to find. In this manner, a whole year passed by until it was again Midsummer’s Eve, our birthday. Since it’s such a mysterious day known for many traditions and legends, we were gifted a book that listed the most important of these, including a story about a special fern blossom which is present only at that night. According to the legend, a creature who finds it becomes instantly rich, acquires a number of skills and masters secret languages. Although my mother said it was only a legend as no one had ever found it, a spark of curiosity had already been lit inside of me. Driven by my natural love of adventure and treasure hunting, I was determined that, take what it may, I will find that mysterious blossom.
“So it was that I embarked on a long journey that led me through the rich greenery of forests and fields but all in vain – I couldn’t find the treasure I was looking for. I was in despair and almost accepting my sad fate until I met an enigmatic being that introduced itself as the Spirit of Tartu. Its wonderful presence beguiled me and I followed its lead. Days filled with heavy walking and changing scenery were crowned with the arrival to our destination – a city named Tartu, the Spirit’s dwelling place. I had never been this far from home, much less in a place swarming with so many people. Having spent most of my life in the deepest depths of a forest, my contact with humans was fairly limited and I was a bit anxious at first. But as it later turned out, my fears were truly unfounded.
“As I followed the steps of the Spirit, who guided me through the city, I eventually discovered myself at the doorstep of a pastel pink building adorned with sky-coloured windows. While observing it with curiosity, an inexplicable feeling of deep connection at heart, I suddenly saw someone standing beside me. He asked me kindly who I was and invited me inside the house where he was just about to go to an event he helped to organise along with other members of a student organisation called AEGEE-Tartu. I had never heard of something of the sort before but I was surely intrigued at once. As I entered the house together with my new friend, he introduced me to the other members of this organisation, all of whom were so lovely and kind. Talking late into the night, we discovered how many things we had in common, and I instantly felt at home.
“From that moment onwards, I became a regular visitor at the events and even some meetings. The life there fascinated me and I longed to be a part of it. One day, I was told that the position of the organisation’s mascot was vacant since the previous one, a squirrel named Säde, had resigned. I felt that this was exactly the opportunity I had been looking for and decided to apply for the position. At first, I was really nervous while delivering my speech after some other candidates at the local Agora, a general meeting for making important organisation-related decisions. To my great relief and happiness, however, I was chosen as the next mascot of AEGEE-Tartu, an occasion to which I always look back with enormous gratitude and joy. From that moment on, although the forest life always retains a special place in my heart, my life of true adventures began.
“Throughout the years, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to visit many incredible countries, such as the Netherlands, Poland, and Italy, and meet uncountable people with hearts of gold. Although these events are full of so much fun, it’s important for me to be extremely careful as I always run the risk of being kidnapped by other antennas. While I’m always treated most kindly at these instances, I eventually start feeling homesick and fortunately am returned to my own local antenna to take part in our events and meetings. I’m incredibly delighted that I have this opportunity to represent and be a member of such a lovely community, full of wonderful people who fill my heart with warm joy whenever I see them. All of this has made me realise I finally found my fern blossom after all – but instead of residing in a plant, it hid itself in this special community.