Who is the AEGEE member of the year 2018? Which antenna, which project was the best? What were the highlights of the year? And what will 2019 bring? The Golden Times asked more than 70 active members. In this edition: read what Spyros Papadatos, Monika Mojak, Matis Joab, Evrim Emiroğlu, Jasmin Kaiser, Leonardo Manganelli, Desireé van Langen and Jani Dugonik said.

Spyros Papadatos, President of AEGEE-Europe, Honorary Member of AEGEE-Ioannina

Spyros Papadatos

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Spyros Papadatos: I would say the first part of my CD term: such an intense experience, but nonetheless a great one! I am glad I share it with six more great AEGEEans and looking forward for the next months!

Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Closing my NetCom term after two years. On 1st of June, I let go officially of my locals and passed them on to new NetCommies. Additionally, closing the 5th edition of “Europe on Track”; I learnt a lot in this project and I am proud I was part of this project team together with many great people. Last but not least, I couldn’t forget the CD elections in Agora Kraków. All these moments for sure marked me and I am grateful to have experienced them.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
First, I would mention Batuhan Çarıkçı. We had the chance to cooperate in my NetCom term as he was the President of AEGEE-Izmir. This year, seeing him as incoming responsible of Agora Istanbul and main coordinator of EPM Izmir, reminded me of his exceptional character and his unique leadership. Then I would like to mention Dom Dimian; such a great person to work with and I think he has a lot to give to AEGEE in the future. Last but not least, I would like to mention the Online Membership System team: Sergey, Nico and Fabrizio. Their work and commitment are not so visible to the network as it should be; but I would like to publicly thank them for this and for helping us make the OMS finally launch earlier this year.

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
Each and every local brings something unique to our network and I would like to thank each and every one of them!

What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
I think Europe on Track 5 managed to raise the bar of AEGEE-Europe projects really high and I am happy to see other projects like Y Vote and Eastern Partnership+ following the same direction. Projects are in the core of AEGEE and I am very glad to see several outstanding ones being managed and developed completely by young volunteers.

What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
The European Parliament elections are for sure a big topic in 2019 – both inside and outside of AEGEE. Additionally, I see sexual harassment, mental health and sustainability as huge topics in 2019 and the next years.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
I would prioritise finishing my CD year and making sure our Activity Plan is being fulfilled. Apart from this, no idea what the future will bring.

How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
As usual, home in Greece with family and friends!

 

Monika Mojak, Secretary General of AEGEE-Europe, AEGEE-Warszawa

Monika Mojak

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Monika Mojak: It was the closing plenary of Agora Kraków, when for the last time I was sitting behind the Chair table as a President of Juridical Commission. After four Agoras and four years in the JC in total, time has come to move on. It was a very emotional moment to me, as the JC was a huge part of my AEGEE life and I put a lot of heart and commitment in this commission. Also, the closing plenary was a very cheerful moment, as after announcing the election results for the Comité Directeur the new adventure was about to start for me. The other memorable thing in 2018 was the Summer University “be CuRious, bE originAl, invenT, imaginE – CREATE” organized by AEGEE-Warszawa and AEGEE-Gdańsk, which I coordinated together with Hania Sarnecka from Gdańsk. It was definitely one of the best experience I have lived in AEGEE so far. Last by not least, the first days in the office as Secretary General were very exciting, as it was the first moment when I fully realized what I signed up for and that the year ahead will be totally crazy and absolutely amazing.

Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Again, Agora Kraków was marvelous. The organizers did a great job to make it an unforgettable experience for all of us, and I am pretty sure that everybody enjoyed the event to the fullest. But of course, there is no Agora without tensions around. It was a challenging and very intense time for us, with good and bad moments, tears and smiles. The Agora showed us the entire palette of AEGEE colours and it should teach as a lesson how to improve in the future, how to show solidarity in tough moments and how to cooperate to make AEGEE a better place for everyone.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
It is just impossible for me and would be unfair to mention only a couple of names, that’s why I would like to seize the opportunity and tell everyone I had the chance to meet, work with or just become friends during the last year: You are all shining stars and absolutely wonderful people. Thank you for being around and making AEGEE such a great place!

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
AEGEE-Odessa and AEGEE-Antalya are perfect example that only “the sky is the limit”. I am very impressed by the quality of the events they organized this year, but also their motivation, determination and very nice ideas for future activities. They show us how to grow and flourish with style. Moreover, there is a spotlight for AEGEE-Kraków for being simply unstoppable and setting high standards in AEGEE. But our association is not only about the cool projects and initiatives, but also people, by whom we are surrounded. I would like to mention AEGEE-Warszawa, for the support and love I get from them on every step and for being true friends I can always count on.

What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
“Europe on Track” for the full professionalism, very interesting and important topic, the wide impact of the project and all the efforts put by the team to make it successful.

What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
I will probably not be original at all, if I say “European Elections” and everything that may happen afterwards. But this is definitely the hot topic number one not only in AEGEE. Besides I would like to emphasize sustainability, as a critical topic that will hopefully have its turning point during EPM Izmir – and drafting the new Strategic Plan. I am very curious about the direction we will take in AEGEE for the next three years.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
Enjoying every moment of my CD year, working hard, be happy and stay motivated and inspired to take up all the challenges waiting for me.

How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will be in Lviv, celebrating in the company of my lovely friends.

 

Matis Joab, Financial Director of AEGEE-Europe, AEGEE-Tallinn

Matis Joab

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Matis Joab: Well, I guess it has to be getting elected in Agora Kraków. It’s funny because less than two months before that Agora I was fairly sure I would not even be living in Europe in 2019 and that, at the latest, Agora Istanbul would be my very last event in AEGEE… Sometimes life is strange! [laughing]

Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
There were a lot of memorable moments, but I would say the most memorable one was EPM Yerevan. It was a really high-level conference and an event where arguably the most impactful antenna in the network got to strut its stuff. I met a lot of great people there and that was also the point where I actually started seriously thinking about running for CD for the first time.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
All the members of our team in the CD are really outstanding and I think we are a really strong team. If I had to highlight one person from there, it would be Viola Bianchetti. Her structure and productivity is really something to admire and learn from. I would also like to highlight Armenak Minasyants, not only for organizing the EPM, but all his work building up AEGEE-Yerevan and showing how an AEGEE antenna can truly contribute to their community. I really think the experiences and connections their members get in AEGEE will be an invaluable asset as Armenia starts to build a new, more democratic and more prosperous future. Special shout out to Lucia Gavulová for starting reforming the Academy, Réka Salamon for her contribution to Agora Istanbul and her huge impact on the network over the years and Jasmin Kaiser for her dedication and professionalism in working for the “30 Years of Summer University” project, despite all the hurdles they faced.

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
Given my previous answers, it’s no surprise that I’ll name AEGEE-Yerevan. Aside from them, I think organizing a statutory event, especially an Agora, is a huge undertaking and I think both AEGEE-Kraków and AEGEE-Istanbul deserve a huge amount of gratitude from the network!

What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
In the warm-up to the European Parliamentary elections in 2019, Y Vote has obviously stood out as the most active project. I was very glad to participate in some of their local actions and am looking forward to also join one or more of their conventions in 2019! Honourable mentions go to the “30 Years of Summer University” project who did a great job despite being really under-staffed for most of their term and “Europe on Track 5”, who I feel were more visible than any other EoT during my time as a member.

What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
Of course, the European Parliamentary elections and the activities of not only Y Vote but also EoT6 and the Civic Education Working Group that are directly or indirectly connected to that will be a huge topic and I also hope a big highlight. I am also quite excited for a big festival in 2019 that the network will soon hear more about.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
I hope that the budget I report in Agora Salerno will be more than double of the year before so that we can really help empower the network and the European Bodies to have an even bigger impact and have more awesome events and projects. That will of course not be a personal effort. If it happens, it will be thanks to the efforts of the entire head office team.

How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
In Tallinn, with friends. There are a lot of cool AEGEE New Year events this year that were very tempting, but after doing AEGEE pretty much 24/7 for the last six months, it’s nice to have a small break as well!

 

Evrim Emiroğlu, Network Director of AEGEE-Europe, AEGEE-Eskişehir

Evrim Emiroğlu

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Evrim Emiroğlu: For me, the highlight was EPM Yerevan. I was simply amazed by it. The quality of the event, the culture, the people, the meeting that we had together with Turkish and Armenian people was the reason that I kept my faith in AEGEE and wanted to take a step further in Agora Kraków.  Moreover, apart from that the second moment that I remembered the potential of AEGEE was during the study trip in Georgia organized by the Eastern Partnership project. I would say these are the moments that give me motivation and encourage me to keep going on in the organization.

Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
For me, the closing plenary of Kraków was giving a strong statement without formulating it. Two of the Turkish speaking locals selected for statutory events after years of discussions whether it is safe or not. I think it was a turning point not only for those locals but also for AEGEE-Europe to remember to stand up against prejudices like in the old times.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
First of all, I would say Batuhan Carikci from AEGEE-İzmir. Organizing one statutory event is one thing, organizing the second one in a row and in addition as the main coordinator is another thing. I really admire his continued contribution to AEGEE in 2018 and even 2019. The second person is Gül Hira Turhan from AEGEE-Eskişehir, being everywhere, helping everyone that she can without even running after a visible title is something that deserves an appreciation. Another person is Réka Salamon, she is the craziest person that I saw in this organization. Moving completely to a different country for organizing an Agora – and this for the organization that she has a strong mix of feelings for… This is something that deserves more respect than she received. Last but not least, I would like to add one more name here: Alin. He was Network Commissioner for the last two years and he passed away 20 days after he finished his term. He was not the most outstanding member in this year due to health issues, but he was helping me in the last days of his life something for his locals and it means a lot to me. I just couldn’t pass this question without mentioning a couple of words for him.

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
All of them are outstanding for me! But okay, I will highlight some of them for their unique practices: First of all, I would go for AEGEE-Yerevan, not just because they organised an amazing event this year but also because they showed the whole network how professional they are on the local level. They showed the best practice so far regarding being an NGO by having a full impact on their society. Yes, of course I am talking about the Velvet Revolution and how members of AEGEE-Yerevan was actively involved in this. The second one is AEGEE-Angers. I believe their way of growth is simply amazing. Organizing a European event as a contact is one of the unique things in the network which I definitely encourage more contacts to experience. After this intensive experience, being selected as the host local for one of the prestigious conferences is making me curious what will come after this!

What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
I observed a great development in the last edition of “Europe on Track” this year. As a person who joined at least partly the last three editions of this project on the local level, I believe the ambassadors were well trained and all the experiences from the last editions were used towards positive improvements. I hope EoT6 will raise the level even higher in the upcoming year.

What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
Indeed, all the eyes from the major part of the network will be on the European elections. Apart from this, I am very curious about the strategic planning and which direction AEGEE will take in the next three years or even more. Finally, I cannot wait for EPM Izmir and Agora Bucuresti.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
My personal plans are pretty clear – at least until the end of my mandate. In the first part of the year, the EPM will be my priority. Moreover, I would like to finalize the work on the health criteria for the locals until the end of February and start with trials in March and April. Also, I would like to focus on the newly established AEGEE contacts and aim at making the majority of them contact antenna at Agora Bucuresti. However, we are also planning to send new missions for the Network Enlargement Strategy in the new year. Besides, I would underline that the Eastern Partnership project has very interesting plans concerning “Beyond Europe” for the next year. I will try to support them as much as I can.

How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will be in Düsseldorf, one of the most beautiful cities that I discovered in this year with one of the most important people that 2018 gave to me.

 

Jasmin Kaiser, 30 Years of Summer University project, AEGEE-Passau

Jasmin Kaiser

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Jasmin Kaiser: This whole year was a highlight for me! I have worked with amazing people, challenged myself plenty of times and realized the huge potential AEGEE has to influence the political agenda. One special personal highlight was the European Youth Event, organized by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where I was part of the AEGEE delegation. It was a great experience to see all these young people from all kind of different youth organizations or as active individuals, coming together, raising their voices for a better Europe. It was a blast to have this opportunity of thinking out of the AEGEE box, tons of innovative ideas are out there!

Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
I would not talk of moments but rather of one important momentum: the return of thematic actions! 2018 show-cased so many thematic conferences and content-related events, you didn’t know where to go first! Many were initiated and guided by European Bodies, but it was even more delighting to see that locals often took the first step, asked for advice and then organized their own local activities. No, I do not believe the majority of AEGEEans is solely interested in fun activities; we have many active members on the local level who truly care about AEGEE’s mission, they show the initiative and are an important part of their local civil society.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
The best team experience I had so far was surely being part of the European Citizenship Working Group 2017-18! Besides of having six awesome individuals with me in the team, Álvaro as our coordinator managed to create a real team spirit, always kept our motivation high and made our work quality work. I would also like to mention Julia de Lange, who took on the role as Secretary General of AEGEE-Europe from one moment to the next and who as our CD appointed member got us in the ECWG off the hook several times. And thirdly, everybody involved in the 30 Years of Summer University project deserves to be mentioned here: all participating locals, the Adventurers, the booklet team, our tiny core team and Marco and Matis from CD! Despite the constant time pressure and all ups and downs we made the 30th anniversary of SU memorable!

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
For sure AEGEE-Warszawa! It was a great pleasure to work with them on the preparations for the ECWG “Citizenship at its Grassroots” conference. They are exactly that kind of antenna that performs AEGEE work at its best: they were equally involved in the content preparations of the conference, they march on the streets when basic democratic values in Poland are in danger, they simply do magic when they organize several European and local events in only a few weeks and they are always so warm-hearted!

What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
Y Vote and Europe on Track, because they brought a complete new level of professionalism to AEGEE. And the Society & the Environment Interest Group! SEIG started with so few people and they managed to put sustainability high on the agenda within AEGEE. They created content for many, many events this year and they keep the discussions running!

What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
No doubt, it is going to be the European elections in May and the future of Europe in general. So the questions is, what will AEGEE concentrate on for the second half of the year? I am very much looking forward to the Strategic Planning Meeting!

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
The 30th anniversary of Summer Universities might be over in several days, but the project is not! We have some more highlights to share with the network until the Spring Agora, so stay tuned! Apart from that, I am looking forward to joining many events and hopefully serve well in AEGEE’s Pool of Representatives.

How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Home, sweet home!

 

Leonardo Manganelli, Y Vote Content Manager, POLIG Moderator, PRC Freak, President of AEGEE-Frankfurt

Leonardo Manganelli

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Leonardo Manganelli: This is a hard one, probably being a trainer in the Y Vote Convention in Warszawa, seeing the backbone of our project first hand!

Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
I would lie if I said all the drama in Krakow didn’t pop into my mind first, where it was heart-wrenching seeing how necessity battled with passion when it came to the Shell motion, the SUCT map drama as well as the CD split drama. I have never laughed about so much arguably unnecessary drama than then, and yes you will have to guess which one of these I laughed about.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
Too many to mention truly. First of all, Freddy Kreutzer from my very own AEGEE-Frankfurt and now AEGEE-Darmstadt as well for being simply a force to recon with locally, putting all his energy in trying to better both locals, glad that he now is a subcommie for Maya, and for one of the actives of SEIG, he does a lot and gets too little of the spotlight. Then I would like to point out Lila, who arguably does get quite a lot of a spotlight by just being a member of AEGEE-Paris. She has been amazing, from really promoting the resurgence of French antennae to being really nice to exchange ideas with when it comes to content and political discussions. I’ll cheat here and nominate also CD 55 for the amazing ETC and just being really enjoyable human beings.

What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
Would it be cheating if I said Y Vote? Jokes aside, living the Y Vote life has been such a series of ups and downs that I would never have imagined when I first applied. It has been and it will continue to be amazing and I think we will just be smiling at the end of it, hopefully having impacted and motivated as many people as possible. My POLIG of course as well and I mean the entirety of it, from the interesting discussions to the creation of the “EUROPA: Written in Capitals SU” with AEGEE-München and AEGEE-Stuttgart.

What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
What kind of political scientist would I be if I didn’t say the European Parliament elections. Of course even if not all AEGEE is in the EU it will affect all of us and I would be lying if I said that I look upon it and see a positive outcome but then again neither does my brother and he predicted both Brexit and Trump. So I would suggest working as hard as we can to counter ultranationalism and similar, for the benefit of AEGEE.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
Well I am not planning too much into the future outside of finishing what I started for Y Vote, POLIG, PRC and as subcom for Maya. I don’t personally think I can add anything else without officially needing to request payment from AEGEE-Europe and leaving university completely so it will be the usual. Outside of the European level I am still trying my best with my team to prepare AEGEE-Frankfurt to become more self-sustainable. When that will be done I can say I did my part on the local level.

How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
In Frankfurt, as per usual, trying to avoid being killed by the people thinking that they are in the final battle of Harry Potter and casting their fireworks left and right. Artistically speaking it is a beautiful scene but it would be much nicer if I manage not to be hit this time.

 

Desireé van Langen, Youth Development Working Group & AEGEE-Academy, AEGEE-Amsterdam

Desireé Van Langen

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Desireè van Langen: This is a really hard question. First of all I needed to rethink what I did in the past year… a lot! I travelled a lot, met new friends, saw old friends and learned a lot! I have a few personal highlights; being main organizer – for the first time ever – of SUPS Amsterdam. It was not always easy but I am really proud of the result. Next to that I liked being at the EPM in Yerevan and drafting the new objectives for the Youth Development Working Group of which I was elected as coordinator during Spring Agora Kraków. Another personal highlight was the Y Vote convention in Cluj-Napoca in which I had to honour to be content manager. It was an amazing experience. We had a nice group, had a lot of fun and I learned a lot.

Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
I think AEGEE did a great job regarding grant writing and getting grants. It means a lot of opportunities for the CD, projects, European bodies and all members within the network. A big shout out to Viola Bianchetti, Maria Ballesteros Melero and Elitsa Hadzhieva for their work. Another memorable moment for me is the EPM because it was in Yerevan, well organized and I really liked the new objectives as a result.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
I want to mention several. First of all I want to mention Svenja van der Tol for inspiring and motivating me and for teaching me so much during my term as YDWG member. Secondly I want to mention my YDWG 2018-2019 team for their work, motivation and inspiration: Natascha, Salome, Victor, Timon, Roberto, Jeroen and Marco. It is a pleasure to work together! Last but not least I want to mention the amazing Y Vote Team and especially Philipp Blum as it was really nice to work together on the Y Vote convention in Cluj-Napoca.

What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
Even though I like the Youth Development Working Group a lot I would say Y Vote! In my opinion they do an amazing job, providing a lot of information, having good workshops about the EU, involving a lot of members and locals, having a good external representation and they do an amazing job regarding their interactive social media use.

What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
For sure the European elections in May 2019! And therefore a lot of activities and campaigning within the network. Let’s strive for high participation of young people during these elections. Another highlight would hopefully be more awareness on mental health. It has been an upcoming topic for the past years in Europe and I am happy we started to work on this topic with the YDWG.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
My plan for 2019 is to continue working on the objectives of the Youth Development Working Group together with my team. In September I will start my master so I guess I need to slow down a bit regarding AEGEE stuff. However, I personally would like to continue working on mental health, also after my term as coordinator finishes. Furthermore I plan to deliver trainings within the network on behalf of the YDWG and AEGEE Academy.

How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
In the end I decided to spend my New Year’s eve with some friends in Amsterdam. No party for me but being surrounding with good friends, food and drinks.

 

Jani Dugonik, former SUCT, AEGEE-Maribor

Jani Dugonik

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Jani Dugonik: To be part of the Summer University Coordination Team. It was a good experience to see all the good and bad stuff about AEGEE. The team members were the best, we encouraged ourselves when it was needed. And the sailing event was one of the best I had.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
Karolina Lapczyk for being the main coordinator of Agora Kraków. Iva Malenica for organising the sailing event for the first time. And my fellow SUCT members for not giving up.

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
AEGEE-Moskva with their Transsiberian Dream TSU, they were really professional and did a great job. Also, AEGEE-Istanbul and AEGEE-Kraków for organising an Agora, they did a great job. And AEGEE-Zagreb for organising the Sailing event: 30 people on 5 boats sailing through the Croatian seas – the best experience.

What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
The “30th Anniversary of Summer University Project” and “Europe on Track” with their cooperation with the Transsiberian Dream Summer University.

What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
I would say Y Vote because of the upcoming elections, they are already doing a great job. And the Short Summer Courses in the Summer University Project, I hope this year there will be more of them.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
No plans so far, maybe to be more involved in the Information Technology Committee.

How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will spend it with my non-AEGEE friends in Banja Luka, Bosnia, eating čevapi and drinking beer.

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