Who is the AEGEE member of the year 2017? Which antenna, which project was the best? What were the highlights of the year? And what will 2018 bring? The Golden Times asked more than 80 locally or Europeanly active members. In this tenth edition of the AEGEE-Europe review: read what Celia Elena Riveres López, Lorenzo Ligas, Oksana Prokopchenko, Lara Killius, Tom Simons and Marlène Rene said.

Celia Riveres, Network Commission, AEGEE-Zaragoza

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Celia Riveres: Without any doubt I have to highlight the Summer University focused on volunteering of AEGEE-Zaragoza this year. We spend two week in small towns of Aragon doing activities with children and adults, invigorating the town. People treated us very well and we had an incredible welcome. I think these kind of activities are something that AEGEE antennae should try to do, its super rewarding what you can do for people!
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
For me, the Agora Catania had some very special moments. Every day I got hundreds of feelings which made me come back home with a big smile on my face.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
It’s very difficult to choose only three people, each member of AEGEE contributes something and helps to develop our association. If I have to name three people: Claudia Corral from AEGEE-Zaragoza. For all the efforts and work she has devoted to AEGEE-Zaragoza, not only in the board and in the Summer University, but also with all the new members. For her full motivation day by day, her smile and her ability to work. I would also nominate Borja Torres from AEGEE Bilbao for his desire and his ability to motivate people. He is a tireless worker and fighter until the end, he has been an active contributor all this year. An also Alejandra Piot, for all the projects she has carried out, always giving the best of her taking care of the locals.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
I don’t know which locals to choose, but undoubtedly I have to name AEGEE-Málaga. I have experienced very closely their beginning and it is amazing to see how much they have worked and the great potential they have in AEGEE. They are hard workers and I am sure they will allow us to experience many wonderful moments. I also can’t forget to mention AEGEE-Zaragoza, for all the energy we have put into our projects and activities. We are a big family, ready to touch the sky in every single minute.
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
The Equal Rights Working Group is something special since it started in the Ideas Factory in León. I think many people got involved to make it succeed, fighting for AEGEE to defend equality. I think they are doing a great job working together with other bodies of AEGEE.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
I hope harassment and discrimination at events can be tackled more precisely. I welcome projects that raise awareness and help the people suffering from those attacks like the Safe Person project.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
I became Netcommie just one month ago, so I will stay in this Commission for almost all 2018. Furthermore, I would like to keep on collaborating with the Gender Equality Interest Group and LGBT+IG, and with AEGEE-Zaragoza in which I am member of the Advisory Board. Knowing myself, I am sure I will jump into some other project!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Three AEGEEans including me talked about the possibility of spending the New Year’s night somewhere outside our homes, but no AEGEE event suited us so we decided to make our own. We talked to some people and finally we are 17 people coming together in Lisbon!

 

Lorenzo Ligas, SUCT, PRC, AEGEE-Cagliari, AEGEE-Krakow, AEGEE-Valencia

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Lorenzo Ligas: I have two. The first one was Autumn Agora Catania, where I have been elected as member of the SUCT. I have been waiting for that moment since Autumn Agora Chisinau. The second one was surviving November. Why? I have been trainer in Network Meeting Alicante, SUPS Barcelona and Network Meeting Napoli and I had a SUCT live meeting in Brussels! Due to stress, I forgot my luggage in the train though, thankfully Marco Daniele lend me some clothes!
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
The opening and closing ceremonies of Autumn Agora Catania were both really emotional.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
First, Gabriele Nicotra: he has been an amazing president of an amazing antenna that made an amazing Agora. His speech during the opening ceremony was really touching. Gabriele recently gave me some extra motivation, and I am very thankful to him. Second, Carolina Alfano: she made something crazy possible, the Italian Grand Tour SU. It was a big challenge for the Rainbow distribution area, and she helped some antennae to gain experience in the Summer University project. And also Lucia Gavulova: for all the efforts she put in the Summer University project, both as Project Manager and SUPS coordinator.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
AEGEE-Torino, for the best Summer University of 2017. AEGEE-Catania, for their spirit and their motivation, and of course, for their amazing Agora.
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
Europe on track, they really did an amazing job! I wish them all the luck for this year’s edition, they are doing an amazing work. I am pretty sure Jorge will guide the project to an outstanding result.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
The Summer University project will turn 30 years in 2018, and as the biggest and most important project of AEGEE, I hope both Comitè Directeur and other bodies will help us as SUCT to promote and give the project more importance, also to externals.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
2018 will be another great and intense year. First, I will focus on the promotion of the Summer University project. As a team, we also want to modernise the project and introduce some new things. Stay tuned! I also decided to take the lead of AEGEE-Cagliari, being president. AEGEE-Cagliari is my first antenna and my family, and it’s time to give back what my antenna gave me. We are planning four European events in 2018: SUPS Cagliari, one exchange, one Summer University and the
DIVE project with AEGEE-Europe, AEGEE-Athína, ESN, JEF and YES forum. I am sure it will be an amazing year, for sure #AMMINCARRETTA!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will stay in Cagliari, with some AEGEE and non-AEGEE people. My body really needs a break from traveling!

 

Oksana Prokopchenko, President of AEGEE-Sheffield

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Oksana Prokopchenko: Undoubtedly, for me personally, it was the “Brexit – What Next?” event. I do hope that it did not go unnoticed by the network, as I genuinely believe that it was an important event for AEGEE in general. Not only because it was a joint effort of all three UK antennae, which is a special thing already, but also because of its content. Now, when all the doubts and worries about the thematic side are in the past, I would love everyone to know that thematic events are great to organise, they show you the best side of AEGEE and its members, and are unbelievably rewarding.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
First of all, my dearest friend Karina Khaisarova, current President of the Audit Commission and of AEGEE-Kyiv – because she is that rare type of person who is ready to take on the responsibility and make wonders happen, which I admire. Secondly, I absolutely cannot resist a chance to mention the dream team of our event “Brexit – What Next?”, because they are truly worth it: Bryn French, Jeremy Bas, Silvia García Cöck, Peter Tar, John Cobbledick, Khurram Shah and Francesco Rossetto!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
My outstanding antenna in 2017 is AEGEE-Manchester. It is a small team of most devoted people, who make incredible things by working hard together. I know how exhausting it can be to be an antenna in a country where a considerable part of the population does not consider themselves European, and these people deserve all recognition for their motivation. I hope next year will be even more successful for them – and for other antennae in the UK too.
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
I am fascinated by the work of Politics Interest Group – they only started working this year, and managed to set up one of the most dynamic discussion platforms in AEGEE nowadays. I can see POLIG rocking in the nearest future and wish them best of luck!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
It seems to me that 2018 will be full of thematic events, especially because some statutory events already indicated their interest in that field. I also hope for a productive discussion on the future of the Action Agenda and possible changes in that area.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I am going to treat myself with the cosiest New Year with my family in my hometown. Cannot wait for it after this crazy year all over Europe!

 

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

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Lara Kilius: I loved Agora Catania. First, because I had the chance to meet many amazing people but also because the Your Vision For EUrope project was closed. It was sad but it was also great to look back and see what this great team achieved.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
There are many moments that were great this year but I have to say the greatest moment was just a few weeks ago when AEGEE-München selected a new board. We always had problems to find people, but this time suddenly more and more people decided that they want AEGEE-München to grow and improve – and now we ended up with an extended board including several accessors with defined tasks. This made me really happy since I started in AEGEE-München and I hope the antenna will grow stronger again!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
It  is always hard to mention just one member, but I have to say especially Ioanna Gympaki and Noemi Lowy did an amazing job. They represented the Your Vision For EUrope project excellently on our SU with AEGEE-Lyon and AEGEE-Toulouse and also invested a great amount of time and effort beforehand.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
Both AEGEE-Lyon and AEGEE-Toulouse just did an amazing job. They are small antennae and in France, where are not many strong antennas around to support. Still, they organized a great Summer University, including a complicated Erasmus+ application.
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
It makes me always happy to see how the election observation project is going on and growing even outside of AEGEE. It was especially visible this year because of the elections in Germany. It is great to also have a neutral view on my own elections, especially because Germany is one of the biggest countries in the EU and has a great influence.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
I think especially the EPM will be a great event. Such a big event so far East is amazing and I think many AEGEEans never thought about visiting Yerevan before and are not familiar with Armenian culture. It will be great to give to so many Western European AEGEEans once again the chance to get to know a for many people unfamiliar country in the context of a big event.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
I won’t be very active anymore next year. I will support AEGEE-München a bit and maybe step in in case there is help needed in some other points, but I am not planning to take any major position.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will spend New Year with my family. I live in another city and with all the traveling – thanks to AEGEE and now also my work – I don’t see them very often. For years I spent New Year away from home, so this year will be another kind of special!

 

Tom Simons, main organiser of Spring Agora Enschede

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Tom Simons: This is of course Spring Agora Enschede. After working with a great team for over a year to realize this event it was amazing to finally see the results of all the preparations. It was a very intense week, but I am very happy with the result, and I am proud of all the organisers’ and helpers’ spirit and dedication. Besides that I would also have to mention Agora Catania, as it was probably my last Agora. After several years of having to remain independent, as both MedCom and Chair, it was fun to be involved in the discussions one last time.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
I am going to cheat a bit here and say all of the organisers and helpers that made Spring Agora Enschede possible. We had an amazing team ranging from alumni and AEGEE veterans to new members, and each and every one was needed to make the event a success.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
Of course I’ll have to say AEGEE-Zagreb and AEGEE-Catania. After experiencing the challenges of organising a statutory event first hand, these two locals deserve recognition for their amazing work.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
With not one, but two statutory events outside of the EU, and the UK’s exit of the EU coming closer each day, I think this is a great opportunity to discuss the future of the EU and what type of relation its member states should have.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
Retiring, I will start my graduation thesis soon, and I already quit most activities and applied for membership of Les Anciens. But who knows, maybe I will get nostalgic and find some time to drop by during an event…
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
In sub-tropical Las Palmas for a New Year’s event! I can’t wait to leave the cold Dutch weather behind for a week.

 

Marlène Rene, Content Manager EPM Yerevan

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Marlène Rene: Since I finished my term as AEGEE-Lille’s president as I left to study in Hungary, AEGEE gave me so many new opportunities. Replacing the project manager of the Eastern Partnership project and becoming Content Manager of EPM. My highlight was definitely after the EaP Action Days when I had the chance to travel in six countries to different AEGEE events for 10 days – including the Agora and see so many friends again at the same time. I have specifically been amazed with my stay in Armenia where I was one of the speakers at their conference. Those days for me really embodied the idea of a borderless Europe I love about AEGEE. No matter where you go, you’ll always be at home, you’ll always have a friend not far, and you’ll always get the opportunity to enrich yourself from every piece of land you visit, every conference you take part of. Getting the chance to be a speaker in different conferences organized by AEGEE-Yerevan or presenting the EPM team in front of the whole Agora were new experiences for me with new friends who inspire me and teach me how to push my boundaries every day.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
The creation of POLIG and the very amusing yet inspiring speech of Ilknur during Agora Catania. I hope this project will strive and develop even more: it’s a huge opportunity for our members to better communicate and push forward more civic and political activism.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
Polina Khapaeva, the president of AEGEE-Sankt-Peterburg. She inspires a lot of people in her antenna. Following the events organized by the antenna from Summer University and New Year’s event to Network Meeting, a lot of participants decided to become active members, even at the European level. She’s a great leader and she has brought AEGEE to become a striving antenna with a true and generous spirit just like hers who embodies AEGEE’s values along with the other members of her antenna who help her achieving wonders.
Then, I’d say Lila Quaile because she was a breath of fresh air in the difficult task of bringing new life to a striving antenna in the French region, she also gave a useful hand and brought new ideas in the Politics Interest Group. Her very creative mind, generosity and devotion makes her an outstanding member, especially as she is quite a new member. If there were more people like that, French would become a co-official language again. #OuiRsurvivors – I’m kidding obviously. I am sure the New Year’s Event in Paris will be magical!
Finally, I’d say Armenak, because he turned AEGEE-Yerevan into a very professional antenna and he is using his last year before he retires from the AEGEE life for the EPM which is a great highlight for the region. He is also a great teacher and inspiration for his team and adviser for younger members.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
First, AEGEE-Paris, because their re-birth was impressive: they became the new breath of fresh air in the region and have already so many plans! They became real leaders in the region, motivating members all over France to revive themselves as well. Second, AEGEE-Sankt-Peterburg, because they are ambitious, they organize amazing events and inspire the participants to be always more active. Although, I might be biased as it is my favorite antenna in the network! Also AEGEE Yerevan, because they are such a big team of motivated people in a country where it can be difficult to have such an antenna. They have a professional board and great relations with institutions. They have a huge impact in the region, a real power of advocacy, which allows them to make a change in a region where it is not so easy to get the citizens’ voice heard, especially youth.
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
The Politics Interest Group. Although it did exist before, reviving it allows to bring back the role of politics within AEGEE. I hope it will lead to bigger projects. Europe on Track is the project I find the most impactful in AEGEE. I can’t wait to see where it will go in this new edition.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
Politics and civic education are back in AEGEE, I see more integration of all the network, members out of the EU should not feel excluded. We need to get our members realize that AEGEE has a power of advocacy; we should use it with a more efficient impact. If we act together, get civically informed and praise for change with the same united vision of a borderless Europe, I think we can have a quick and efficient impact on our societies, European policies but not only. We need our members to understand the issues of today and give them the strength, courage and inspiration to fight for what they strive for.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
EPM Yerevan of course! We have launched an open call for bodies to participate in the content of the EPM, I’m excited to see what they will do, and I will do my best along with Natalia Klimenko along with the AEGEE-Yerevan’s team to make this EPM professional, memorable and full of fun. I also plan many events with the Eastern Partnership project. We decided we need more members to make them happen, so for this we also launched an open call. Eastern Partnership issues are a great deal for me because I think it is two regions – Eastern Europe and South Caucasus – who have many motivated members, who have the AEGEE spirit and share the European values we strive for. Yet they face issues such as visa, or are put aside because there is too many talks in AEGEE about the European Union instead of Europe as a whole. If I have a goal in 2018, it is too free those voices and allow more AEGEEans to discover the regions culturally, politically and socially. I’m also eager to meet with AEGEE-Tbilisi members as I will live there soon. 2018 promises to be very busy!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
For the past two years I have spent my New Year in Russia. For once, I will be in Kraków, still surrounded by AEGEEans, although not in a New Year’s event. I plan to travel through Poland for ten days with childhood friends before I move to Georgia.

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