AEGEE in 2016 (VIII): Pablo, Lara, Theodora, Damien, Lisette and Yevgeniya

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Who is the AEGEE member of the year 2016? Which antenna, which project was the best? The Golden Times asked more than 70 locally or Europeanly active members. In this edition: read what Pablo Hernández Rodríguez, Lara Killius, Theodora Giakoumelou, Damien Latacz, Lisette Kunst and Yevgeniya Gagarkina said.

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Pablo Hernández Rodríguez, former External Relations Director of AEGEE-Europe, Liaison Officer

GT: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2016?
Pablo Hernández Rodríguez: My personal highlight was the introduction of the AEGEE Day and the great results it got. It was very necessary to develop an idea that unites the whole network and fosters the AEGEE spirit all across Europe. I hope we can see more editions of the AEGEE Day and hopefully become a strong project within AEGEE.
GT: AEGEE-Europe had many memorable moments in 2016. Which one do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Pablo: 2016 was definitely one of the most exiting years in my life, especially taking into consideration all the challenges I had. Maybe my most vivid memories come from Agora Bergamo. Of course, the elections were a big thing personally, but I also enjoyed the opening ceremony as I never did before.
GT: Who were for you the outstanding members in 2016?
Pablo: For me 2016 has two clear outstanding members: Maria Ballesteros; for me she is the perfect example of an AEGEEan. She fully understands the core values of the organisation and what we fight for. She was also a great motivation to me. And Melissa Carreres. She is a person that means a lot to me. She managed to have two jobs and being the best Netcommie I have ever seen. She put not just dedication to her job, but also great passion and now the results are obvious!
GT: Which were for you the outstanding antennae in 2016?
Pablo: After knowing the reality of the migration crisis, the political struggles Turkey has and the problems regarding hosting events, the most outstanding antennae in 2016 are the Turkish ones. They are unfairly suffering the consequences of something they have nothing to do with. The NWM Ankara is the best example of their commitment towards AEGEE.
GT: What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2016?
Pablo: The AEGEE Day was a highlight project. The outstanding interest group of 2016 is the Gender Equality IG as it managed to bring equality to the attention of AEGEE, and even make it, together with the LGBT+ IG a new focus area in the upcoming Strategic Plan.
GT: What do you foresee as a highlight or big topic in AEGEE in 2017?
Pablo: Equal rights. If the Gender Equality IG has been loud, after it becomes a WG, I think it will become even more important.
GT: What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2017?
Pablo: I will finish my term as Liaison Officer and maybe bring some new ideas to AEGEE. Nothing clear yet.
GT: How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Pablo: I am currently living in Zaragoza and I will definitely join the AEGEE-Zaragoza New Year’s eve meeting.

 

Lara Killius, Project Manager “Your Vision for Europe”, AEGEE-München

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GT: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2016?
Lara Killius: The Agora Chisinau was definitely one of my highlights. It was my first Agora as an envoy, before I have always been delegate. It was great to be more flexible and to dedicate all my time to the “Your Vision for Europe” project. A big part of our team was present and we had a booth at the fair, a workshop and of course the activity report. It was great how the team kept together even when we did not meet up for project purposes. Besides that the organizers were extremely friendly and helped whenever help was needed, this just made the atmosphere so friendly and positive.
GT: AEGEE-Europe had many memorable moments in 2016. Which one do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Lara: One big moment were definitely the elections during the Spring Agora. For me personally the CD elections are always a big thing, since they have a big part in defining how AEGEE will look like in the future. Everyone has their own opinion of how things should be and I am always very interested in hearing the different opinions, speeches and of course to see who finally got the support from the network.
GT: Who was for you the outstanding member in 2016?
Lara: Aleksandra Mojsova. She really worked hard and did a great job in the last months, besides being very active in the NetCom, she is content manager in our project and is doing a great job here too. Even though she has two positions, she manages the double work extremely well, manages all her tasks, is always available and brings great input to the team.
GT: Which were for you the outstanding antennae in 2016?
Lara: In my opinion this was definitely AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca. This might also be due to the fact that our project team worked together with them on a conference. I think they organized this conference “Borderless Europe – Blessing or Burden” extremely well. Even though I was not highly involved in the cooperation I know everything worked out well and I am very happy the project had the chance to organize this great conference together with AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca.
GT: What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2016?
Lara: Of course I like the “Your Vision for Europe” project most, this is why I decided to join it in the first place, but I have to say in AEGEE there are so many great projects and working groups, which work hard, that it’s almost impossible to say which is the best. All of these bodies are important because they show how diverse AEGEE is.
GT: What do you foresee as a highlight or big topic in AEGEE in 2017?
Lara: Populism will be a big topic in Europe in general and will hence also influence AEGEE; we can already see this from the EPM topic. However, I think also in other situations this topic will come up a lot. We simply can’t ignore it anymore and since I am sure many people in AEGEE see this like me there will be more room for discussion. Another important thing especially within AEGEE will be for sure the European Citizens’ Initiative about civic education. It’s great that AEGEE starts something like that and I really hope we will succeed.
GT: What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2017?
Lara: Since the “Your Vision for Europe” Project is currently planning to organize more conferences, this will definitely keep me busy enough. Unfortunately I can’t go to the EPM, but I will go to the Autumn Agora since the project will probably get closed there. I hope until this point we will be able to fulfil all our objectives and be ready for new challenges. But until then there are still a lot of different things to do and to organize.
GT: How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Lara: I will be with some friends from the University in Frankfurt, since I have only 31st of December and 1st of January off and unfortunately I can’t travel far, which I would actually like to do.

 

Theodora Giakoumelou, Coordinator of the Youth Employment Working Group, Member of ACT, CIRC, ECI Task Force, AEGEE-Peiraias

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GT: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2016?
Theodora Giakoumelou: Attending my first ever European event, EPM Leiden, and being elected coordinator of the Youth Employment Working Group.
GT: AEGEE-Europe had many memorable moments in 2016. Which one do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Theodora: The AEGEE Day was my favourite one. It was an incredible initiative that in one way or another brought us all together with the purpose of remembering what we love about our association and its different aspects.
GT: Who was for you the outstanding member in 2016?
Theodora: There are so many outstanding members! I would like to mention the people who truly inspired me this year though: Svenja van der Tol for her truly outstanding work, spirit and kindness Adonis Meggos for being overly active, energetic and full of great new ideas and Sebastian Rood, for his knowledge, brilliant mentality and immense support.
GT: Which were for you the outstanding antennae in 2016?
Theodora: As an ACTie, I would have to give a shoutout to all the antennae, big or small, that always strive to organise amazing activities and events for important issues. Lastly, as probably everyone mentioned before me, I have to mention all three locals: AEGEE-Leiden, AEGEE-Bergamo and AEGEE-Chisinau that organised our statutory events this year
GT: What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2016?
Theodora: The Gender Equality Interest Group and the LGBT+ Interest Group really stole the show this year by being so active and present throughout the network, along with the Civic Education Working Group and their idea behind the European Citizens’ Initiative.
GT: What do you foresee as a highlight or big topic in AEGEE in 2017?
Theodora: As most people, I am really looking forward to the statutory events this year, since I think they are going to be the highlights. As far as topics go, I think all four focus areas will be the focal point and with those, I hope that the importance of internal education will be part of the discussions as well.
GT: What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2017?
Theodora: Since I am quite active, I have a lot of plans and ideas for 2017. I think overall, my focus would be to try and get the locals as active and involved as possible when it comes to the thematic activities. As a member and coordinator of the Youth Employment Working Group I look forward to the next few months, because we are preparing a lot, like guidelines, activities and even a platform! Lastly, when I get the chance, I would like to get more involved in the new focus areas.
GT: How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Theodora: Around the people I love of course! As always, dinning and partying with friends and family.

 

Damien Latacz. President of the Mediation Commission, Co-Moderator Society & Environment Interest Group, AEGEE-Aachen

Damien Latacz

GT: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2016?
Damien Latacz: The moment I felt really fulfilled was surely at the end of the NWM Aachen. Being main organizer I really wanted to make an unforgettable event, and on a more personal level, check if I had improved myself since the Night of the Seven Antennae. Our organisation team was amazing, we worked a lot, had many motivated helpers and active participants. Seeing them happy during the event, getting good feedback at the end… It was one of the best moment of my year.
GT: AEGEE-Europe had many memorable moments in 2016. Which one do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Damien: The Gala in Heidelberg. I had seen the castle before, because it is beautiful and I love castles… And to have the possibility to go there at night, to dance and celebrate, was just wonderful. It’s not a training, nothing related AEGEE itself, but it is to me a symbol of what an AEGEE event is: doing something extraordinary with people from all over Europe whom you can call friends.
GT: Who was for you the outstanding member in 2016?
Damien: Nils Barkawitz from AEGEE-Aachen. He is a true representation of what AEGEE spirit is. He is quite active in AEGEE, being Treasurer of AEGEE-Aachen, and now also a Subcommie of the Audit Commission. But that’s not all, he was also really active in other associations in our university, wrote his Master thesis, and on top of all of this, he is always there to have an open-minded conversation.
GT: Which were for you the outstanding antennae in 2016?
Damien: AEGEE-Chisinau! I was there for the pre-event before Agora Kyiv, and they did an amazing job. But it is a small antenna, and pre-event and the Agora are not the same. Nevertheless, they managed it! When we saw them succeed, it showed all of us that there is always the possibility to achieve what you want in AEGEE, as long as you have enough motivation to do it!
GT: What do you foresee as a highlight or big topic in AEGEE in 2017?
Damien: Probably Populism. I think we didn’t take our “Spreading Europtimism” topic seriously in the last years, but recent political events will make us react. If we manage to agree on a clear definition of what populism means and what the problems are, I think we can achieve some good things. This is the opportunity for us to get out of our internal AEGEE pattern and reach other Europeans, who lost hope in our common project. But it will need a lot of efforts and involvement from all of us, and I hope we are ready to take this step forward.
GT: What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2017?
Damien: This year I will focus again on the Mediation Commission. I would love to organise an SU on Conflict Management. Going from simple team dynamics to more evolved strategies about conflict solving. Every active AEGEEan will have to work in a team at some point, quite often international, with some different background and cultures, and I think we underestimate the mental strain it can put on us and the skills we need to do it properly. I do believe in the power of training and I think an SU based on this could bring some good knowledge in our network. On a more dreamy note, I would love to organise a more science-oriented conference in Aachen. Being an engineer myself, that would combine my two passions. It would make me really happy.
GT: How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Damien: I will be in France! I left France four years ago and it is quite hard sometimes to keep in touch with my old friends, so we have a tradition: every New Year we celebrate together, no matter where. This time we rented a big house in east of France. It will be casual: board games, music, good food and of course a lot of wine!

 

Lisette Kunst, former Mediation Commission, AEGEE-Groningen

Lisette Kunst

GT: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2016?
Lisette Kunst: My personal AEGEE highlight was to have the chance to spend most of the year working in the Mediation Commission. I very much enjoyed the work and being part of such a nice team.
GT: Who was for you the outstanding member in 2016?
Lisette: Florian Hauger, for always being ready to take the initiative in bringing broader societal issues to the network’s attention and raise discussions, and my former Medcom colleague Ana Gancearuc for her great work in the core team of Agora Chişinău – and in between even having time for saving three Dutchies from freezing in Romania!
GT: Which were for you the outstanding antennae in 2016?
Lisette: AEGEE-Ankara, for their amazing Network Meeting, and AEGEE-Leiden, AEGEE-Bergamo and AEGEE-Chişinău for the well-organized statutory events of this year.
GT: What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2016?
Lisette: The “AEGEE Election Observation” project.
GT: What do you foresee as a highlight or big topic in AEGEE in 2017?
Lisette: Populism and the European Citizens’ Initiative. The former will be big even after EPM Zagreb, as there will be a number of important elections in Europe next year where populists might have an impact. The latter also interests me a lot as I am curious about the result of the Initiative and what lessons AEGEE takes from it.
GT: What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2017?
Lisette: I hope to help organizing a very nice European event in my local for the next spring and would like to remain involved on the European level as well.
GT: How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Lisette: Somewhere in the Netherlands with friends or family, I didn’t make definite plans for it yet.

 

Yevgeniya Gagarkina, Summer University Coordination Team 2016, AEGEE-Kyiv

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GT: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2016?
Yevgeniya Gagarkina: My personal highlight was my SUCT trip. I really-really had been looking forward to it for a long time and a result was fantastic. I observed a lot of significant differences in the perception of the SU project among participants and organizers. Somehow it gave me a broader vision not only towards the project but also about the lifestyle of European youth. In the moment when you feel tired of traveling it was definitely something that is needed.
GT: AEGEE-Europe had many memorable moments in 2016. Which one do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Yevgeniya: The #AgoraOfThe1000 for passion and amazing PR! Also the moment when we, SUCT, announced those SUs which got more than 9 points out of 10 in the general evaluation – it was such a happy moment to see all the excitement of people cheering each other and feeling a part of something great – and of course sharing the memories from the #SUmmerOfYourLife. It was the happiest Agora closing plenary for me.
GT: Who was for you the outstanding member in 2016?
Yevgeniya: For me it is definitely Paolo Ghisleni, as he is a true inspirational leader, able to build up and to motivate a team to organize something making the world better! I also know how much he wanted this Agora – I hope he had the rewarding feeling in the end! Other outstanding members are Philipp Blum, Lucia Gavulova and Carolina Alfano, who have been SUCT 2016 together with me. We tried to make a great job in terms of sustaining and developing our brightest AEGEE project.
GT: Which were for you the outstanding antennae in 2016?
Yevgeniya: I love AEGEE-Budapest for their ability to resolve things, consider it as my special gratitude certificate, dear organizers. I am proud of AEGEE-Beograd for being able to take responsibility and dare to take a step; and I just adore AEGEE-Aachen for their style, bears and ideas. I hope to participate in some of their events next year!
GT: What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2016?
Yevgeniya: Of course it was the Summer University project! Not only because our amazing team of Lucia, Carolina and Philipp are like a #SarcasticFamily for me, but because we tried to slightly change the shape and the image of the project and, in my opinion, have succeeded in many things. I can’t wait for 30th Anniversary – it will definitely be even more outstanding!
GT: What do you foresee as a highlight or big topic in AEGEE in 2017?
Yevgeniya: I wish that big topic was realizing the European integration without all the populistic bullshit talking.
GT: What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2017?
Yevgeniya (smiling): I am quite a spontaneous person with a lot of silly jokes and emotional decisions… So I won’t reveal any plans for now. Either wait for something huge or don’t wait for anything!
GT: How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Yevgeniya: For now I am going to be in Kharkiv, one of the most creative and controversial cities in the world, probably having fun with some of my dearest people in the cozy atmosphere!

 

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