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. Today: read what Viola Bianchetti, Aleksandra Miklasińska, Jesús Pérez, Julia Hanesz, Erifyli Evangelou and Fabrizio Bellicano said.

Viola Bianchetti, Projects Director of AEGEE-Europe

Viola Bianchetti

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Viola Bianchetti: Mentioning Agora Kraków or Agora Istanbul would be way too easy. Thinking back, the event which meant the most to me personally was the conference “True Colours” organised by the Equal Rights Working Group and AEGEE-Leiden. It was an unforgettable event, with high quality content and speakers, enthusiastic participants and an amazing atmosphere. There I met some of the most inspiring AEGEE members I know and I spent few days with good old friends, discussing about topics that truly matter to me. It was the best way to close my year as Working Group coordinator and get the right motivation to start the year as CD member.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
I had the luck to meet and work with truly outstanding people in 2018, and picking up only a few names is difficult. I will mention Elitsa Hadzhieva, who helps me daily in grant writing, fundraising and in making this edition of Y Vote the best possible; Evita Ločmele, who took up the challenge to be project manager of a major AEGEE-Europe project at a very young age and who is doing an amazing job in making the 6th edition of Europe on Track a very special one; and María Zurita Rivero, who after being an outstanding member of the Equal Rights Working Group last year is now continuing to contribute to AEGEE as moderator of the LGBT+ Interest Group and as responsible for impact measurement and the Action Agenda.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
AEGEE-Bucuresti, for taking up the challenge of organising an Agora in only six months.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
I am clearly biased in this, but I am really proud of the performance of all four Working Groups. It was thrilling to see so much enthusiasm about the Focus Areas in the network, with big conferences, small local actions and an important presence online and at statutory events.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
Obviously: the European Parliament elections. But I hope that May 2019 will not be the end of everything, but a chance to enhance the civic competences of young people beyond the elections and to start a real debate about youth participation and youth representation in politics.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
Surviving my term as CD member. Continuing with the Secretariat Strategy. Contributing to a successful campaign of AEGEE-Europe for the European Parliament elections.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will spend it in Torino, with Marco Daniele and some other friends. How I will spend it, and how long it will take me to recover, is still to be discovered.

 

Aleksandra “Ola” Miklasińska, CEWG member, AEGEE-Kraków

Ola Miklasińska

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Aleksandra Miklasińska: I would say that the whole 2018 was my personal AEGEE highlight! I can’t really choose between being in the Project Team of Europe on Track 5, organising Spring Agora Kraków 2018 and going for the Transsiberian Dream. When I thought that AEGEE had already given me a lot, then 2018 happened and now the question is… how can I beat it?
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
The opening ceremony of Spring Agora Kraków was a truly remarkable moment for me! The place, performances, the crowd going crazy in the end and after all lightning sparkles all together at the nearby square. It was such a beautiful moment – and beautiful drone photo!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
There are some of my friends from AEGEE-Kraków who really deserve to be mentioned here: First, Mateusz Gierczak. His passion and dedication for AEGEE is amazing. During Agora Kraków he took corporate fundraising in AEGEE to a completely new level and after the Agora he is still all around, being super active and inspiring new members to get more involved in AEGEE! Also: Kamil Bąbel. I think he has been active in AEGEE-Kraków for six years which doesn’t happen very often in antennae that organise around 20-30 projects per year. Long after his board term, he still creates local events, helps less experienced members and proves that there is no challenge in the world that he wouldn’t be up to. Do you know that this guy ran a marathon… backwards? It’s not a joke, he really did!
And of course: Karolina Lapczyk. She was dreaming about the Agora in Kraków, she convinced us to apply for it which wasn’t easy because only a few believed we could make it and then she overcame so many challenges and obstacles during the preparations. An amazing Agora happened, she rested for a bit… and became Network Commissioner because organising an Agora was not enough for her!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
I can’t skip my beloved local, AEGEE-Kraków, which keeps surprising me all the time. Not only we organised a great Agora but we ended this year with even more members, new working groups and a level of local activeness which is really incredible for me. We have a big and active International Politics Working Group, recently we created kind of Society and Environment Interest Group in our antenna, the groups which were working before are getting bigger. Seems like the Agora was only a beginning for us! As I lived the dream of Transsiberian experience, I also want to mention AEGEE-Moskva here. So many hard-working, creative and crazy people out there! They decided to organise an SU with the main topic of sustainability in the country where recycling is definitely not a common thing and they just nailed it. The amount of work behind this SU is huge and I couldn’t be happier to see them winning the best SU award this year.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
In the first half of the year I was impressed by the European Citizenship Working Group and proud of the effects of the work we put into Europe on Track 5. The second half is definitely dominated by Y Vote and I am really amazed by the scale of the project and its professionalism. I would also like to appreciate the Society and the Environment Interest Group for their continuous action and great ideas like encouraging AEGEEans to bring their own cup to Agora Istanbul. I am sure that EPM Izmir will only confirm it!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
I don’t want to play Captain Obvious but I am sure everyone is aware that until May the European Parliament elections will be the topic. But what else? Something new and very interesting for me is the mental health topic, tackled by the Youth Development Working Group. It is extremely important and relevant for all of us, but not so popular in our discussions. Personally I hope that sustainability will at least remain as popular as in 2018.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
While I am thinking of how to beat my 2018 in AEGEE, I am still active on a local level with AEGEE-Kraków and with the Civic Education Working Group. For sure I will be involved in Europe on Track 6 as a local organiser in Kraków but with the rest… we will see.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I am going to Lviv with some of my friends from the Transsiberian Dream TSU and since AEGEE-Lviv is also organising a New Year’s event, they invited us to join them whenever we want. Obviously we are not going to turn down this offer! So I will enter 2019 with many friends and AEGEEans around.

 

Jesús Pérez, Netcom Subcommissioner, President of AEGEE-Bilbao

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Jesús Pérez: Becoming president of my local. After two years in AEGEE and also in the board, becoming president has been a boost in confidence and motivation for me. Apart from that becoming a network subcommie has also motivated me a lot and I’m truly looking forward to this term.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
My SU by AEGEE-Tallinn and AEGEE-Tartu. Thanks to the HRC and the outstanding organisers I had a great time, learnt a lot and got to know myself better. I went home with more resources for dealing with team leading.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
My board mates so far have been amazing, but if I have to single out one of them it would be my vice-president Jon Andoni, for the support and comprehension he showed. Outside my board, my Netcommie Celia Riveres really pushed me towards becoming a subcommie and other members such Jesus Baizan really keep me motivated.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
Mine, AEGEE-Bilbao, of course for the growth experienced and the change in mentality of the members – #ProudOfMyLocal! Apart from this, AEGEE-Tallinn and AEGEE-Tartu for organising an SU with truly useful content, despite the drawback of knowing that a serious SU does not attract that many people. However, this kind of SU really does make the difference!
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
I am not that much into European Projects, but among the Working Groups I would highlight the Equal Rights Working Group. Working with them organising an equal rights conference in April was an amazing experience, they are truly dedicated people. It was worth the time spent and the headaches suffered while struggling to get enough participants. Thank you guys!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
The European elections. This topic can raise some conflict but nevertheless it seems to me big and important enough so that our whole organisation should work on it, not only promoting participation but also discussing the results and the resulting policies to be implemented.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
Making AEGEE-Bilbao great and truly motivating our members to transcend the cheap traveling and leisure part of AEGEE, realising all the good they can do thanks to AEGEE. More realistic, helping as a subcommie as much as I can and motivating newbies into taking roles in AEGEE so that they can learn.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
With my long-time friends and family in my hometown. No fancy plans for this AEGEE!

 

Júlia Hanesz, Coordinator of the Civic Education Working Group, AEGEE-Debrecen

Júlia Hanesz

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Júlia Hanesz: Agora Istanbul definitely. It was my fourth Agora, again full of many inspiring people I met and many new things I learnt, but the whole event had a really special atmosphere and meaning. Even though the organizers faced a lot of obstacles and we were a bit confused at some points, I really think it was a great experience for all of us and a place we really needed to bring AEGEE spirit to this year. Next, to that, I could also meet my team, the new Civic Education Working Group, for the first time, to what I was looking forward to so much!
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
There were many, but I would like to mention one, also connected to the Agora Istanbul: the Safe Person project. I joined the team of safe persons for the first time during this Agora, because I thought it is super important and also to learn more about it. It was a really unique experience, something really different from what I am studying, what I was doing so far in AEGEE. On one hand I understand now even better how important it is to have such initiatives in an outside of AEGEE, and on the other hand, it made me realise how cool it is to have the opportunity to improve ourselves in so many different areas in AEGEE.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
I would name three really hard working AEGEE ladies bringing so much professionalism to AEGEE, from whom I learn so much: Maria Ballesteros Melero, Viola Bianchetti and Oksana Prokopchenko. Maria, for doing a great job as an External Relations Director, for educating so many AEGEEans and non-AEGEEans on gender topics all the time, for emphasizing and working so much on the Safe Person project and for being a great friend. Viola, for being a wonderful Working Group coordinator and showing a great example in that. Oksana, for being a real AEGEE mother for the Boomerang area. It was so great to see, how locals rely on her on everything during the NWM Angers-Paris, and how she is helping to grow the AEGEE spirit there.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
The last two Agora organizers: AEGEE-Kraków and AEGEE-Istanbul and the contact antenna in Angers. Because they all are full of the real AEGEE spirit and they showed us in 2018 that they are prepared to share it with us AEGEEans from all over Europe and also with everyone else around them any time.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
I was really happy to see the “Bring your own cup” initiative by the Society and Environment Interest Group during the Autumn Agora Istanbul, and I think that the work done by the SEIG is outstanding and very impressive! Among the projects, I would give the outstanding European project award for 2018 to Europe on Track 5!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
I think the questions discussed during the EPM Izmir will bring new topics and perspectives to AEGEE, and if the plan of planting an AEGEE forest will work, then I am sure it will be a highlight of the year!
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
Until the end of July, I will continue getting AEGEE civic and educated and supporting my team as much as I can. After that I will see.

 

Erifyli Evangelou, Europe on Track 5, AEGEE-Athina

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Erifyli Evangelou: Being a member of the Europe on Track 5 project team was definitely an unforgettable experience! I personally learned a lot by working with wonderful people in a very motivated international team. I am very happy that EoT5 managed to initiate many discussions regarding the topic of sustainability and climate change and to see so many activities organized throughout our network. One more personal AEGEE highlight was being a helper at Agora Istanbul! I was really looking forward to this Agora and there are no words to describe how much I enjoyed my time with the amazing people of AEGEE-Istanbul and with the rest of the organizers and helpers!
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
The closing ceremony of Agora Istanbul.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
Timon Turban from AEGEE-Aachen! For his incredible contribution to our organization, for his endless energy and motivation and for being the wonderful person and friend he is!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
AEGEE-Thessaloniki! They were really on fire last year!
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
Europe on Track, Y Vote and the Eastern Partnership project.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
I really like the topic of EoT6 and although it is a hard topic to tackle, I hope it will initiate fruitful discussions regarding the critical issues Europe has been facing recently.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
Last months have been a bit crazy and I haven’t taken the time to consider my next plans in AEGEE. Any suggestions?!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
In a castle near Barcelona with very, very good friends!

 

Fabrizio Bellicano, Chief of Technical Operations, AEGEE-Genova

Fabrizio Bellicano at NWM Sankt-Peterburg

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Fabrizio Bellicano: Seeing all the technical features falling into their place, and the big picture being completed, for the most famous or infamous project of AEGEE of the last decade: the membership system. The “behind the curtains” part is pretty impressive and on-par with the most modern settings that startups and some big companies use. AEGEE’s IT is on the way to be enterprise-grade again!
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
I treasure all the times with my fellow board CD55, and a nice moment was the “wrapping up” during the Agora in Istanbul. After the activity report, thanking all the key people, like the kebab guy of Rue du Noyer – and more key people like Philipp von Klitzing. Thanks again, by the way!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
I may have mentioned it already last year, but Andrea Schmelz is my source of inspiration! More than five years in the organisation and she is still rocking – learning from it! My ex-roommate Marco is also worth mentioning, because he is magic. Last but not least, Sergey Peshkoff, aka Mr. “My employer forbid me to work on OMS because apparently during working hours I spend more than 50% of time on AEGEE”. The surprising part is that I see from the worklogs that he also does stuff at night.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
Not an answer to this question, but: any small antenna which kicks ass is the true hero. In my year in the CD I noticed how perfectly fine antennae compare themselves to the rest of the network and think they are not enough. Quality members, not quantity of members! Go out there and make amazing events that embrace the action agenda – and possibly make the leaflet embrace the visual identity!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
Digital literacy: it kind of encompasses many things at once. First off, we as ITC have to educate members on how to use the upcoming IT platforms we are going to have in the organisation. From there, people should and could also be educated on how to approach Facebook and other big providers of information and misinformation. That’s how to fight virtual populism. All in all, I don’t think that’s what AEGEE will focus on, but it definitely should.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
As always, on the backstage, making things work in unfathomable ways. I will also make the ITC work as a normal committee, particularly I want to finish the implementation of the helpdesk, creating a team of enthusiasts willing to help fellow AEGEEans. Wanna hear more? Go to aegee.org/helpdesk, check “other” and I’ll be there!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
In an undisclosed location to undisclosed people. Literally. They don’t know I am coming. And I don’t know where I am going.

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