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 12th edition of the AEGEE-Europe review: read what Loes Rutten, Erifyli Evangelou, Derk Snijders, Elena Agulló, Spyros Papadatos and Teresa Oberhauser said.

Loes Rutten. President of AEGEE-Europe, AEGEE-Utrecht

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Loes Rutten: It would be too easy to say: “Agora Enschede, when I was elected”. That’s why I’ll go for Network Meeting Gaziantep and the visits to Hatay and Adana that followed it. It was AEGEE at its highest potential for me: A really eye-opening experience that you would never have if you were not part of this network, while having crazy amounts of fun.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Maybe not all members are able to relate to this, but for me it was awesome to receive the letter from the Belgian National Agency of Erasmus+ announcing that our Key Action 2 application for a project called “Genders: Platform for Certification of Gender-Friendly Organisations in Youth Working” was approved. It strengthens both AEGEE’s content and financial sustainability. Another cool moment was the Council of Members of the European Youth Forum. Officially, I was the only person representing AEGEE, so at the beginning I felt a bit lost like an only delegate at her first Agora. But then I realized once again how well established AEGEE is in the field of youth policies. AEGEE was everywhere, with Luis Alvarado as president of the European Youth Forum, Marko Grdosic as chair of the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe, Antonija Parat in the Secretariat of the Youth Forum, and Sebastiaan Rood in the board. A lot of other youth organisations are impressed by our work!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
One of them, definitely Svenja van der Tol. It is amazing how she continues to support other members to grow in our organisation. She is always available for questions for us as CD, and plays a pivotal role in the Youth Development Working Group, Human Resources Committee, and one million other things. I would also like to shine some light on Damien Latacz. He has just finished his second term as speaker of the Mediation Commission. The work he did was incredibly heavy. Name the 20 worst things that happened in AEGEE in the past two years, and Damien has been there to find a solution, support, give advice, stay impartial… His efforts may have gone by unnoticed by many people, but they were outstanding. Last but not least, Daniele Ricevuto, main organizer of Agora Catania. He was able to cope with so many challenging situations, and always managed to stay calm and support his team. I don’t know how he was able to function without sleeping before, during and after the Agora, he was like the main character of a super hero movie. I was quite shocked when I heard he had an accident one month after the Agora, but like a super hero he recovered and I wish him a 2018 full of well-deserved travels!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
I think AEGEE-Tyumen deserves the spotlight here. Not only because they are geographically outstanding, but also because they managed to grow to a sustainable local, and are now organizing an amazing New Year’s event. Given their geographical location, I am impressed by how well they are connected with the rest of the network.
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
I think that the Gender Equality Interest Group has been outstanding in its activism. Although many people, including myself sometimes, found them annoying, aggressive, or gave them the label of “angry feminists”, they have had an impressive impact on the direction of our organisation. I am much more aware of the gender stereotypes in our culture and language. I come from a very gender-balanced family where my mother always wears trousers and where my father does at least as much laundry as my mom. I needed a push to realise how unique that is.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
I hope that social inclusion will be a big topic in AEGEE next year. Just like we needed a student movement 30 years ago for the European project to succeed, we now need to make sure Europe belongs to all its citizens. It’s in our vision that we strive for a socially integrated Europe, but as students, we sometimes live on little privileged islands, disconnected from other communities. It would be wonderful if 2018 is the year when we will face this reality and decide to change this.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
Until 1st of August, I will dedicate every day to serve this organisation, enjoying the full ride of this rollercoaster. I am really looking forward to the European Planning Meeting Yerevan, to the European Youth Conference in Sofia where I will be representing the outcomes of AEGEE’s structured dialogue, and to continue working on the activity plan for our CD. After first of August, I have two months of holidays. It should be enough time to chill, go on vacation, kick-off from CD life, move back to Utrecht and start my PhD in Theoretical Seismology in October. Off course my involvement in AEGEE won’t stop there, I haven’t visited all locals yet!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
During the day, with my family, it’s my mom’s Birthday. Then I will divide my time over two or maybe three different groups of friends, because I can’t choose which party to join. Luckily New Year’s Night is one of the longest nights in the year.

 

 

Erifyli Evangelou, Europe on Track, Language Interest Group, AEGEE-Athína

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Erifyli Evangelou: For me, 2017 was really full of amazing AEGEE moments! Falling in love again with our organization after living the Transsiberian dream, experiencing how far AEGEE can go and how a group of young volunteers can get you to the other side of the map. I moved to another country and feel there like home, since in Barcelona I already had many AEGEEan friends and people eager to help me with moving in, and showed me around their wonderful city. And last but not least, I joined the Europe on Track project team, learning so many new things, working together with a dream team and trying to create a real impact out of it.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
EPM Zagreb! What an organization! Great logistics, great food, great people and a very beautiful city! And of course, the Agora of love, Agora Catania! You could really see how much love AEGEE-Catania put in the organization of this event and I am grateful that I managed to attend it!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
One of the most hardworking people that I’ve met not only in AEGEE but also in my life so far, a person with endless motivation, a person who has done an incredible job the past years in his local, in the Netcom, in Europe on Track and in all the bodies and projects he has been involved. For me, Spyros Papadatos is one of the most outstanding members of the year, and I want to thank him very much for his dedication, his time, energy and mobile data he has used for Skype calls, for being always around to help and support. It is always a big pleasure working with him! I would also like to recognize the amazing work of Maria Ballesteros Melero and thank her for being the inspiring person she is, for encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone and take initiatives that without her support I am not sure I would have taken. I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for everything she has offered to our organization, on so many different levels! One more person that I would like to mention and recognize his unstoppable work in my beloved AEGEE-Istanbul, is Dermanşah Yalın who has been board member for three years including two terms as president.  I want to wish him the best for the big project that he is now working on together with a great team, Agora Istanbul!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
AEGEE-Ioannina! Organisers of an amazing SU, a Network Meeting, but most important an antenna that works like a family!
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
Europe on Track 4, which reached a big number of people during their trips and was also the reason behind my will to get involved in this year’s edition. Moreover, I believe the Language Interest Group did an outstanding job this year, being present in many different events and spreading language love all around our network!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
Trains, sustainability, climate change and the most exciting adventure of 2018, Europe on Track 5!
And of course Agora Istanbul, a dream that will come true this autumn!
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
Continue rocking with the Europe on Track project team!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
This year I am attending my first New Year’s event as a participant, therefore I will spend New Year’s night in Leiden, surrounded by 30 AEGEEans and grabbing life by the uiers!

 

Derk Snijders, ITC Speaker, AEGEE-Delft

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Derk Snijders: My personal highlight was being Incoming Responsible for Spring Agora Enschede. I really enjoyed being in contact with all kinds of members from all over Europe. While mostly just e-mailing with them they all felt like friends and I did my very best to help each one of them. Getting all these positive reactions and then finally meeting them during the Agora was a really nice and rare experience. Also, I got a bit of a nerdgasm from having the audio visualisation on the beamer and even secretly playing Achtung die on it during the Agora! While writing I keep coming up with more crazy yet amazing things that happened during Agora Enschede, so I’ll just go ahead and say that was my highlight of the year!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
I just feel like I have to mention Nico Westerbeck and Sergey Peshkov for helping so much with building the Online Membership System, most people normally don’t notice, but they definitely deserve the attention! Then I thought of lots of people who I could name as third, but I think I finally found someone who deserves it even slightly so more than others: Tim Houben. I saw him battle for revigorating his local that he took presidency of and he was an all-around great friend that I spent many nights bullshitting with, a welcome change of mind while working in the sometimes stressful headoffice.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
I find this a hard questions, I have seen many locals do amazing things and want to avoid the cliches of hosting events. I will say AEGEE-Brussels, for becoming alive again – and I really think we should have a strong local in our head office’s city! My other two votes will go to AEGEE-Bamschede, for making an absolute great joke and offering tons of memes during Agora Catania.
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
Haha, I will say OMS! Maybe because the time I spent on the OMS completely dwarves the time spent on any other project, but I really feel like this project improved by a ton and has amazing potential. Being involved as one of the main developers I learned so much from this and truly believe it can boost AEGEE and make everything twice as efficient, amazing and borderless – not to speak of other organizations that could benefit from it! I am sad that a new headoffice officer to work on the OMS has not been found and I really hope someone will take up this amazing opportunity, but regardless of that, I am still positive that after 11 years and way too much money spent, it is really coming.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
I believe the trend of frustration with IT systems will continue and that this will create more traction for working on upgrading the IT within AEGEE-Europe. Therefore I think not only the OMS but IT in general will be a big topic and hopefully a highlight in 2018.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
As I believe IT will be a big highlight within AEGEE for the coming year or years, I will continue to spend my time and do whatever I can to push AGEEE in this area. As a speaker of the ITC I hope we, as ITC, can offer some new support and tools for AEGEE and as a developer of the OMS I want to continue to develop this absolute gigantious project and get it live and used before the end of 2018.
Finally, I hope to participate in a Summer University this year, as sadly I did not had time these past years.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Somewhere around Enschede, not entirely sure where yet. Nothing too spectacular, I hope to get some rest these holidays!

 

Elena Agulló, President of AEGEE-Alicante

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Elena Agulló: The very best moments of this year were during Network Meeting Alicante. Being main organiser, I really wanted to make an incredible event and, after months working hard to make it real, we achieved it! I can’t be more grateful for the amazing team that gave everything to make it magical! Vero, Celia, Álvaro, Juanqui, Fotonso, Marina, Meli, Manu, Félix: you’re awesome! I am really happy it happened and we were there to live it!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
I’m in love with AEGEE and its members and I wouldn’t imagine it without our former President of AEGEE-Alicante, Álvaro Muñoz. He has been working hard to make AEGEE-Alicante great by implementing cool tools and just by spreading his swag. He is one of my best friends and the one who was always encouraging me to become an active member, thank God I have him now as advisor!
Also, Celia Riveres did a fantastic and lovely job with us while being our Subcommie and I wish her now the best in her new term as Network Commissioner.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
Of course, here I have to mention AEGEE-Alicante! We organised three European events this year: our first “Alicante On Fire – Hoguera’s Event”, inviting AEGEE to celebrate together our local festivities; second, the great Summer University “Alicante’s land: Beach, Fire and SUn!” and recently, the magic Autumn Network Meeting Alicante 2017! We also don’t stop organising activities and projects, our Buddy Program is about to start its 10th edition!
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
The Public Relations Committee! The Visual Identity team did a great job this year by uploading the Visual Identity Manual. We did our best with the new Social Media Manual too. We rocked it! #PRfreak
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
2018 will be a fantastic AEGEE year! Two years ago, I had the pleasure to enjoy my Erasmus in the most beautiful city ever: Kraków! Now this super antenna is organising the next Agora and I am sure it will be awesome! Moreover, at local level we will celebrate AEGEE-Alicante’s 15th Anniversary with a gala ball and more suprises!
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
I will continue as president of my lovely antenna until next September and then, who knows? Besides, I would like to attend some T4T, since I have recently enjoyed delivering some workshops during our last LTC and I want to become a trainer!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I am visiting the north of Spain to enjoy the beauty of Asturias and its people. My New Year’s night will be like a non-official AEGEE event, party with friends from everywhere!

 

Spyros Papadatos, Network Commission, Liaison Officer, Europe On Track, AEGEE-Ioannina

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Spyros Papadatos: My personal highlight was during Network Meeting Ioannina, when my fellow local members named me honorary member of AEGEE-Ioannina. It was a very touching and rewarding moment receiving this honor and it will stay in my mind and heart.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
For sure the two Agorae; especially the moment with the flashlights during Agora Catania’s opening ceremony was something I vividly recall. Additionally, the presidential election in Agora Enschede was also a very intense moment of AEGEE in the last year – not in a positive way of course. We should remember to always treat everyone with sense and respect, independently if we agree or not.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
I would name firstly Marina Klanjčić. She is a person I think highly of and I enjoyed working together a lot for the past year. Then Vasiliki Andrioti. It is amazing seeing your real-life best friend to evolve that much within a year and work responsibly and hard both on the local and the European level of AEGEE. Last but not least, Erifyli Evangelou; it is always a joy working with her and to call her a friend, she is the symbol of the true AEGEE spirit.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
I would say AEGEE-Zagreb, AEGEE-Enschede and AEGEE-Catania for taking the challenge to host our statutory events and doing it so great!
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
I have to go with Europe on Track of course. In the first half year I saw it as an observer, but for the second half I am experiencing it as part of the project team. I honestly believe it is doing an outstanding job, raising the standards and quality a lot! I can’t wait for the whole network to see what we have prepared for everyone in spring!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
I would say one thematic and one organisational: the thematic being the raise of thematics in AEGEE; we already see four active working groups, many active interest groups, projects and – my personal favorite – several thematic conferences! The organisational part would be the necessary reforms; I think several AEGEE locals and members are starting to look more critically at the way we do things and are open for new ideas that would make our association function better. So let’s all bring our ideas and shape the AEGEE we want!
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
Finishing my second mandate as Network Commissioner, working on some very cool projects with a lot of locals also outside of my area and organize a great Europe On Track 5 opening conference with AEGEE-Thessaloniki!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
With some friends and family in Greece, recharging for an exciting year that is about to come!

 

Teresa Puchinger, Equal Rights Working Group, Board Member of AEGEE-Heidelberg

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Teresa Puchinger: My personal highlight was a thematic exchange organized by AEGEE-Heidelberg and AEGEE-Kyiv. The project “YOUrope: Interchanging hopes and challenges of EU participation” was fully funded by the German Robert Bosch Stiftung; with the money we had at our disposal, we could organize quite a professional conference with fruitful discussions and informative lectures. It widened my horizon as I personally never got the chance to travel to Ukraine and meeting its culture. People made me see the EU and Europe from another perspective – and we all know how important it is for us to shift perspectives every now and then, don’t we?
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Frankly, it is hard to choose because I am still overwhelmed with what this organization made me experience. Since the happy moments are countless, let me name two serious ones. During Autumn Agora Catania, we held a minute’s silence to show our respect for a member who died at a Summer University. Also during Agora Catania, we were asked to help another member who was diagnosed with leukemia. In my opinion, regardless of the power of happy moments, it is in the serious ones that we truly experience our sense of togetherness, therefore, those two moments were outstanding to me.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
Viola Bianchetti. She devotes tons of hours to AEGEE every week both working for the local and European level.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
AEGEE-Catania for obvious reasons, but also AEGEE-Aachen, which celebrated its 30th birthday this year and is one of the most active German antennae.
What was for you the outstanding European project, working group or interest group in 2017?
Unfortunately, I cannot always keep track of the many cool projects that are and were organized, but I am sure during 2017 there were a lot worth being called outstanding. In my smaller AEGEE bubble, I notice that the Equal Rights Working Group is doing extraordinary work and so are the interest groups connected with the subject, such as LGBT+ IG, GEIG and MIGR. Despite many people doubting, I dare say AEGEE is ready for this focus area and I am happy there are so many AEGEEans committed to fight for equal rights.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
I am not very good at making prophecies, but I think Autumn Agora Istanbul is going to be interesting for diplomatic and political reasons. Apart from that, many AEGEE internal discussions will be analogous to big topics that become or remain essential for the EU in 2018, such as Brexit, Eastern Partnership, refugees, structural reforms and legitimizing democracy.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
I want to figure out whether it makes sense to found an AEGEE contact in a French overseas department and depending on that found one or not in 2019.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Home with my oldest friends – who would kill me if I now also spent New Year’s with AEGEE…

 

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