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 local­ly or Euro­pean­ly active mem­bers. Over the next two weeks you can see what they answered. In this edi­tion: read what Lila Quaile, Batuhan Çarıkçı, Maria Smirno­va, Gabriele Nico­tra, Ilknur Demir and Luca Bisigh­i­ni said.

Lila Quaile, ECWG Coordinator, AEGEE-Paris

Lila Quaile

Gold­en Times: What was your per­son­al AEGEE high­light in 2018?
Lila Quaile: I guess my per­son­al AEGEE high­light of 2018 was my elec­tion as the Euro­pean Cit­i­zen­ship Work­ing Group coor­di­na­tor in Ago­ra Kraków.
Who was for you the out­stand­ing mem­ber in 2018?
That’s a tough ques­tion! There are sev­er­al with­in AEGEE but I think one of them is Oksana Prokopchenko. I’ve had the chance to work with her as her sub-com­mis­sion­er and she is tru­ly amaz­ing. I think, in six months she suc­ceed­ed to cre­ate a com­plete­ly new area that works and is grow­ing. Anoth­er one I would like to men­tion is Lau­ra Blake, founder and Pres­i­dent of AEGEE-Angers. I had the chance to meet her sev­er­al times and to work with her close­ly, spe­cial­ly for the NWM and she is incred­i­ble. In less than one year she suc­ceed­ed in cre­at­ing one of the most promis­ing AEGEE anten­nae! I would like to con­grat her for the amaz­ing job she is doing!
Which was for you the out­stand­ing anten­na in 2018?
It can sound pre­sump­tu­ous but I would like to say AEGEE-Paris, my anten­na. I start­ed from the scratch one year ago and we suc­ceed­ed in organ­is­ing two Euro­pean events in ten months with very few peo­ple. Almost 30 new peo­ple joined us in one year and more and more are inter­est­ed about our asso­ci­a­tion day by day. I would like to thank all the peo­ple from my board for their amaz­ing job! A sec­ond anten­na I would like to men­tion is AEGEE-Angers. I am hon­est­ly impressed by them and how they man­age to grow so fast and in such an amaz­ing way! The guys are fan­tas­tic and they are plan­ning some tru­ly amaz­ing events! Stay tuned!
What was for you the out­stand­ing Euro­pean project or WG/IG in 2018?
The 30 Years Anniver­sary of Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Project. I had the chance to be one of the adven­tur­ers and to trav­el in Spain for more than one week. It was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence and I am thank­ful to the project team for run­ning the project so well!
What do you fore­see as high­light or the big top­ic in AEGEE in 2019?
I do not know if it will be the big top­ic but I would like AEGEE to focus on the Euro­pean Elec­tions and I think we are doing quite well so far thanks to the amaz­ing team of Y Vote!
What are your per­son­al AEGEE plans for 2019?
Fol­low­ing my Action Agen­da Objec­tives — haha! Joke aside, we have some amaz­ing ideas with­in the Euro­pean Cit­i­zen­ship Work­ing Group and I hope we will be able to imple­ment them well. As sub-com­mis­sion­er of Oksana for sev­er­al French locals, I would like to help them grow­ing on local but also on the Euro­pean lev­el.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will be in Paris, spend­ing New Year’s Eve with my best friends. I still don’t know how exact­ly but far away from AEGEE. [laugh­ing]

 

Batuhan Çarıkçı, EPM İzmir 2019 Coordinator, AEGEE İzmir & AEGEE İstanbul

Batuhan Çarıkçı

Gold­en Times: What was your per­son­al AEGEE high­light in 2018?
Batuhan Çarıkçı: Dur­ing the clos­ing ple­nary of Ago­ra Istan­bul 2018, the moment when Réka was giv­ing a speech and at the same time cry­ing, I was right behind her, and I do not remem­ber how many dif­fer­ent emo­tions were flow­ing inside of my brain at that moment. It is real­ly hard to describe but I can say, it felt like we reached to the peak of a moun­tain despite hard snow and wind from all pos­si­ble direc­tions. So, of course I couldn’t hold back my tears there.
Which mem­o­rable moments of AEGEE-Europe in gen­er­al in 2018 do you remem­ber most vivid­ly or was out­stand­ing?
EPM Yere­van 2018 was real­ly a good oppor­tu­ni­ty for me — also for the net­work — to expand my hori­zon, I real­ly enjoyed dis­cussing in a peace­ful envi­ron­ment, cre­at­ing bonds with peo­ple there.
Who was for you the out­stand­ing mem­ber in 2018?
Reka Sala­m­onoğlu — I can­not imag­ine how many times she has been nom­i­nat­ed as the out­stand­ing mem­ber until today, but with­out doubt, she deserves it till the end! As an out­stand­ing android, she has nev­er stopped and gave a lot from her­self for this asso­ci­a­tion, and in 2018, in the end, turned gray… [laugh­ing]
Evrim Emiroğlu — as my “moruk” and a con­fi­dant, she is one of the most hard­work­ing and deter­mined peo­ple I have ever seen. She did a very good job in short time in 2018, and I believe she will keep going, of course!
Refik Barış Özçe­lik – as my “part­ner in crime” I remem­ber him being very active and work­ing curi­ous­ly in his very first Ago­ra, Enschede 2017. After that he non-stop con­tin­ued on the local lev­el and suc­cess­ful­ly organ­ised an NWM in İzmir as a coor­di­na­tor. With­in a month, he got elect­ed as Net­Com and became the vice-coor­di­na­tor of EPM İzmir 2019. I think the year 2018 was real­ly out­stand­ing for him.
Which was for you the out­stand­ing anten­na in 2018?
With­out doubt, AEGEE Istan­bul!
What was for you the out­stand­ing Euro­pean project or WG/IG in 2018?
I was a team mem­ber of the Youth Devel­op­ment Work­ing Group in 2018, so the answer of this ques­tion is quite obvi­ous for me. I per­son­al­ly devel­oped myself a lot there, and work­ing togeth­er with that team — espe­cial­ly Sven­ja — was real­ly a big plea­sure. This year I am unfor­tu­nate­ly not so avail­able to fol­low things close­ly that they are doing, but they have a team which even Real Madrid doesn’t have. They still have more than half a year left of their term, so I am sure they will keep rock­ing!
What do you fore­see as high­light or the big top­ic in AEGEE in 2019?
Still, Brex­it and the seem­ing­ly unstop­pable rise of far right in our soci­eties.
What are your per­son­al AEGEE plans for 2019?
After organ­is­ing EPM İzmir 2019 suc­cess­ful­ly in Feb­ru­ary, I will check my options if I want run for one last round in AEGEE or not.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I didn’t real­ly plan yet. But most prob­a­bly, all togeth­er with my flat­mates as a tra­di­tion, we will rock our beloved flat, which we call as “Facil­i­ties” since 2014.

 

Maria Smirnova, Eastern Partnership+ Project, AEGEE-Moskva

Maria Smirno­va

Gold­en Times: What was your per­son­al AEGEE high­light in 2018?
Maria Smirno­va: Prob­a­bly, the Action Agen­da draft­ing process dur­ing EPM Yere­van, where I was rep­re­sent­ing ACT. Peo­ple in my group were so deep-think­ing and cre­ative – I lit­er­al­ly admired them! And, apart from that – all those moments, when I, against all odds, was going to live meet­ings or statu­to­ry events, skip­ping impor­tant class­es at the uni­ver­si­ty, hitch­hik­ing at night in the mid­dle of nowhere with almost no mon­ey in my pock­et — there you know, that you can go where you want and noth­ing bad will ever hap­pen to you.
Which mem­o­rable moments of AEGEE-Europe in gen­er­al in 2018 do you remem­ber most vivid­ly or was out­stand­ing?
The dis­cus­sion about boards and visas at EPM Yere­van. I believe, that this top­ic should always be high­light­ed. And also Ago­ra Kraków – sat­u­rat­ed with con­tra­dic­to­ry events, where “almost every­thing what could ever hap­pen” hap­pened.
Who was for you the out­stand­ing mem­ber in 2018?
Natalia Kli­menko, who looked so pro­fes­sion­al, ele­gant and cool dur­ing the dia­log with the exter­nals at EPM Yere­van, and also has done huge con­tent-relat­ed work. Ele­na Efre­mo­va, who has explored AEGEE far and wide, a walk­ing ency­clo­pe­dia on statu­to­ry events, GDPR pio­neer and my best ex-Net­com cou­ple. And Arme­nak Minasyants for the EPM.
Which was for you the out­stand­ing anten­na in 2018?
AEGEE-Yere­van for the EPM, AEGEE-Kraków for their Ago­ra and AEGEE-Tbil­isi for their cosy RTC.
What was for you the out­stand­ing Euro­pean project or WG/IG in 2018?
The Lan­guage Inter­est Group — they have been pub­lish­ing lots of use­ful and inter­est­ing con­tent and also con­duct­ed a pre-Ago­ra online “learn­ing Pol­ish chal­lenge” — yep, I have a weak­ness for Pol­ish! Also the EaP+ project, which is ver­sa­tile, active and con­stant­ly devel­op­ing. You can use our Face­book page as news digest, as a key to new oppor­tu­ni­ties and as some­thing tru­ly inter­est­ing to read.
What do you fore­see as high­light or the big top­ic in AEGEE in 2019?
Sus­tain­abil­i­ty seems to be keep­ing its posi­tions on top. Also, the top­ics which have all chances to be fur­ther devel­oped — and I tru­ly want them to be: equal rights and bor­der­less Europe.
What are your per­son­al AEGEE plans for 2019?
Explor­ing dif­fer­ent sides of the EaP+ project and… and the rest of my plans I may uncov­er lat­er…
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I am going to have a “palm” New Year! I will go to Tener­ife with my par­ents.

 

Gabriele Nicotra, Network Commissioner, AEGEE-Catania

Gabriele Nico­tra

Gold­en Times: What was your per­son­al AEGEE high­light in 2018?
Gabriele Nico­tra: My per­son­al high­light this year was def­i­nite­ly the elec­tion as mem­ber of the Net­work Com­mis­sion of AEGEE-Europe, I joined a great team and I was able to form an amaz­ing Sub­Com team as well, it couldn’t be bet­ter!
Which mem­o­rable moments of AEGEE-Europe in gen­er­al in 2018 do you remem­ber most vivid­ly or was out­stand­ing?
My favourite moments in AEGEE this year were two: in a gym and on a boat. Of course I am talk­ing about Spring Ago­ra Kraków and Autumn Ago­ra Istan­bul, the Euro­pean Night and the Boat Par­ty were just awe­some!
Who was for you the out­stand­ing mem­ber in 2018?
Did you know that out­stand­ing is trans­lat­ed as Francescaameli­a­zor­co­lo? You don’t believe me? Google it! She has been not only a great Net­com, but indeed a great friend and a mod­el because of her “mom” atti­tude, her grit and tenac­i­ty. Also, dur­ing Ago­ra Istan­bul we broke her mat­tress and sur­vived, unbe­liev­able, right?
Which was for you the out­stand­ing anten­na in 2018?
AEGEE-Kraków and AEGEE-Istan­bul, the coolest kids this year for sure!
What do you fore­see as high­light or the big top­ic in AEGEE in 2019?
Well, well, well… Next year the Euro­pean Elec­tions will take place, let’s bring pol­i­tics back to AEGEE!
What are your per­son­al AEGEE plans for 2019?
Devel­op and look after my local, keep up with the Net­com team and its projects and def­i­nite­ly help AEGEE-Saler­no with their upcom­ing event!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I want­ed to orga­nize a New Year’s event, but fly­ing to Cata­nia is com­pli­cat­ed, which is just a fan­cy word for “freak­ing expen­sive”, and I had to can­cel it. So I will work for sure!

 

Ilknur Demir, Politics Interest Group, AEGEE-Ankara

Ilknur Demir

Gold­en Times: What was your per­son­al AEGEE high­light in 2018?
Ilknur Demir: The Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty we orga­nized with AEGEE-München and AEGEE-Stuttgart was my per­son­al high­light in AEGEE this year. We orga­nized a high­ly the­mat­ic SU with Mod­el Unit­ed Nations and Mod­el Euro­pean Union sim­u­la­tions, focused on inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions and the upcom­ing Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions. I believe it was very fruit­ful and could be an exam­ple how Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ties could be also fun with great the­mat­ics.
Who was for you the out­stand­ing mem­ber in 2018?
Mirek La – Mod­el Euro­pean Union lover, great Euro­pean, filled with opti­mism and enthu­si­asm. Luca Bag­gi – awe­some train­er, great intel­lec­tu­al, with the warmest heart. And Leonar­do Man­ganel­li — loy­al knight, new POLIG hero, one of the most hard­work­ing AEGEEans I have ever seen.
Which was for you the out­stand­ing anten­na in 2018?
AEGEE-Istan­bul — I believe they cre­at­ed mir­a­cles with their Ago­ra orga­ni­za­tion, even though the uni­verse worked against them with so many logis­tic trou­bles.

 

Luca Bisighini, Migration Interest Group, AEGEE-Brescia, AEGEE-Kraków

Luca Bisigh­i­ni

Gold­en Times: What was your per­son­al AEGEE high­light in 2018?
Luca Bisigh­i­ni: Spring Ago­ra Kraków, or as I call it, my Final Cur­tain with AEGEE events. Sor­ry #ZaTran­sib, but I am real­ly a lot hap­py to have quit­ted ear­li­er. In ret­ro­spec­tive, I am super hap­py not to have been elect­ed for CD, know­ing all the con­se­quences that would have mat­tered by that. Since that peri­od, the major­i­ty of the sin­gle pieces of the puz­zle of my life improved dras­ti­cal­ly for the bet­ter, thanks to all-time friends and thanks also to new ones. Most of them, out­side of AEGEE. I can say to be very hap­py at the moment, hap­pi­er than dur­ing the stress­ful first four months of 2018 — and I con­sid­er this a great per­son­al achieve­ment.
Which mem­o­rable moments of AEGEE-Europe in gen­er­al in 2018 do you remem­ber most vivid­ly or was out­stand­ing?
Two in par­tic­u­lar, one pos­i­tive, one neg­a­tive. First, the pos­i­tive: see­ing “Europe on Track V” mem­bers and ambas­sadors hug­ging at the end of their Euro­pean run, pos­si­bly the very best pos­i­tive mes­sage I have seen in years from any­thing AEGEE con­nect­ed. Sec­ond, the neg­a­tive — aside from the SUCT-relat­ed facepalm­ing use­less dra­ma of Ago­ra Kraków and the Shell motion with oth­er facepalm­ing moments, too — was an event almost nobody dis­cussed. AEGEE-Rīga dis­ap­peared. In silence. The local of my first ever Euro­pean Event. The only local in the Baltics to have orga­nized a statu­to­ry event, dis­ap­peared. For anoth­er year, we lost anoth­er Euro­pean coun­try from the map. That’s quite mean­ing­ful about the cur­rent state of AEGEE: despite the hyper con­test­ed bureau­cra­cy and cri­te­ria we can eas­i­ly cre­ate plen­ty of con­tacts — how many, 6–7 new con­tacts? A lot! But we also let entire his­tor­i­cal locals dis­ap­pear.
Who was for you the out­stand­ing mem­ber in 2018?
I will go with four names, but with one ex-aequo result. Jorge Sánchez Hernán­dez and Philipp Blum above all mem­bers in the 1st place as ex-aequo. They took projects in their hands and ele­vat­ed them to anoth­er lev­el. I hon­est­ly don’t recall peo­ple who impact­ed that much in the whole of the orga­ni­za­tion in the last years. Then for the sec­ond, I will go with Tim­on Tur­ban. He is one of the very few activists this orga­ni­za­tion has: some­one to be utter­ly proud of. Some­one that rep­re­sents clear­ly what AEGEE should be about, espe­cial­ly if we do con­sid­er AEGEE as polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion. Last­ly at the third place, Katha­ri­na Schw­erdt, because she proved clear­ly that this orga­ni­za­tion can do much more things which are more atten­tive and con­nect­ed to our liv­ing real­i­ty.
Which was for you the out­stand­ing anten­na in 2018?
I have two: AEGEE-Dres­den, because it proved clear­ly that locals should speak up loud if some­thing is wrong, like the facts of Chem­nitz, instead of wait­ing all the times to have a reac­tion com­ing only from the Comité Directeur on every major thing hap­pen­ing. I loved also the fact that one AEGEE-Dres­den mem­ber — Anto­nia von Richthofen — spoke loud against racism on behalf of ERWG; and pro­claim our­selves anti-fas­cists in front of many injus­tices hap­pen­ing on this con­ti­nent, despite the def­i­n­i­tion is hard for many AEGEEans to digest.
We are in a Europe fuelled by pop­ulists and far-right, where we even have far-right think tanks like Gefi­ra, cre­at­ed by high­ly-debat­able for­mer AEGEEans with no morals nor val­ues, who are speak­ing against the rights of many peo­ple in Europe. Only few peo­ple and very few locals and few peo­ple are actu­al­ly speak­ing up their voice, mak­ing state­ments and posi­tions.
That’s sad and I hope some­one — in between these lines — will start pro­mote train­ings for how to do pol­i­cy papers, state­ments and posi­tions because it seems most locals have this need. They seem unable to under­stand that they are and should be the first actors and they bare­ly not even act, unless it’s for par­ty­ing. Many things which are against AEGEE val­ues are ongo­ing in Europe in cities where AEGEE is present, doing noth­ing. AEGEE-Dres­den was pos­si­bly one of the few locals real­ly act­ing for some­thing or at least demon­strat­ing, instead of pas­sive­ly doing noth­ing.
AEGEE-Yere­van is the sec­ond local I would like to high­light. First, because of their well-orga­nized statu­to­ry event in a very far land bring­ing more than 100 peo­ple togeth­er, demon­strat­ing to be pro­fes­sion­al in the orga­ni­za­tion and prov­ing that those val­ues and real AEGEE spir­it you read in the State­ment of Prin­ci­ples do exist, “some­where in Europe”.
Sec­ond, because AEGEE-Yere­van seems to care much more about the hap­pen­ings ongo­ing in their region more than hun­dreds of locals of our net­work. When Arme­nia had a rev­o­lu­tion ongo­ing in their coun­try to over­throw a crooked polit­i­cal regime, some fear­less AEGEE-Yere­van mem­bers took part in the demon­stra­tions in the streets, lead­ing as exam­ples for the Youth peo­ple in their coun­try, striv­ing for democ­ra­cy, doing some­thing valu­able, doing some­thing polit­i­cal.
That should be the AEGEE, a polit­i­cal yet non­par­ti­san orga­ni­za­tion, full of proac­tive youths, every­one should be proud to be part of.
What was for you the out­stand­ing Euro­pean project or WG/IG in 2018?
Europe on Track V and Y Vote, fin­ish­ing with #ZaTransib10. The first for the rea­sons men­tioned before for Jorge and Philipp: they believed in a top­ic, they worked per­fect­ly for it and they made it big­ger than ever tried before. About #ZaTransib10, well, what to say? Luck­i­ly we have locals who are able not just to do fun events like 90% of the locals just do, but to do deliv­er a huge project in terms of logis­tics and mak­ing it with a sol­id top­ic bound. AEGEE-Mosk­va again met and went beyond the stan­dard bar­ri­er of excel­lence among all locals and to meet the lev­el of inspir­ing locals. One day I will do for sure the whole Tran­si­ber­ian route on my own for sure, just because of the inspi­ra­tion this project was able to bring to the col­lec­tive mind of many AEGEEans.
What do you fore­see as high­light or the big top­ic in AEGEE in 2019?
2019 will be a year of change in Europe: the Euro­pean Elec­tions plus Brex­it as well as the elec­tion of a new ECB chair­man and oth­er events are just months away. They can leave us a more con­ser­v­a­tive, less inclu­sive out­come for the future of youth in Europe and for the future of youth orga­ni­za­tions includ­ing AEGEE. This orga­ni­za­tion, head­ing to its soon to be 34th anniver­sary, needs new projects and new ideas about much more top­ics to inspire new mem­bers and new locals to join. Some ideas are slow­ly get­ting obso­lete and needs some­thing to spice up the thing — start­ing from the core project: the Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty. Maybe open­ing SUs to the out­side world might help? With a quo­ta of par­tic­i­pants com­ing out­side of Europe or out of the locals? I guess it was Réka’s idea, so I will quote her in before hav­ing a roy­al­ties request com­ing.
AEGEE needs more courage and to do some­thing in con­crete, a lot of new faces to replace lots of oldies like me, more con­crete aca­d­e­m­ic or real-prepar­ing-to-work­ing-life relat­ed projects. Today I see very few ones and you can’t always teach non-for­mal stuff to peo­ple. AEGEE needs less events just con­cen­trat­ed on just hav­ing fun; oth­er­wise AEGEE will always be trapped on just being an orga­ni­za­tion to par­ty where maybe 500 peo­ple at best are brain­storm­ing try­ing to make the wheel run.
What are your per­son­al AEGEE plans for 2019?
After Ago­ra Kraków I said: stop with events. I felt seri­ous­ly it was the very last Euro­pean event and I don’t see any relat­ed AEGEE future plan. Maybe I might post some­thing in some social media groups, just for the sake of shar­ing, like I am doing out of AEGEE in chats with friends already. My mem­ber­ship with AEGEE-Bres­cia expired and with AEGEE-Kraków I will let it expire in April 2019. Too bad for the Flixbus dis­count codes, though.
I passed through the com­plete AEGEE HR cycle from being a new­bie, to all of local lev­el, all of Euro­pean Lev­el — both the­mat­ic and man­age­r­i­al — to final­ly attempt­ing to get to the Euro­pean Board and yay, fail­ing mis­er­ably, LEL.
So I did some­thing like 1 out of 100 AEGEEans usu­al­ly do: that’s a lot in ret­ro­spec­tive. Luck­i­ly I con­sid­er myself done with­out any regret, all of this by trav­el­ling a lot, all of this by meet­ing maybe 2000 peo­ple in almost five years, with some of them I can be proud to call good friends for life, all of this hav­ing some life­time mem­o­ries noth­ing and nobody can take me ever away. I don’t feel that up for par­ties any­more: in six months I will be 30 years old and I kin­da feel a dis­com­fort to be at an event with peo­ple whose aver­age age is 21, 22 or less, dis­com­fort to debate about use­less stuff like for­ev­er and dis­com­fort to be in an orga­ni­za­tion with some old­er peo­ple who are just in AEGEE to just par­ty.
For sure I will keep the pos­i­tive life­time les­son very few inspir­ing AEGEEans gave me in these years: I will be always — from here on — a more respon­si­ble, crit­i­cal mind­ed per­son. I will try to expe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent types of activism. I will be proud­ly try to be a proac­tive Euro­pean Cit­i­zen. That’s for sure.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
With my girl­friend. Some­where. In Europe.