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 Tekla Hajdu, Zvonimir Canjuga, Veronika Chmelárová, Timo Haarman, Eyrin Kyriakidi and Laura Blake said.

Tekla Hajdu, Chairperson Agora Kraków – Agora Istanbul, AEGEE-Budapest

Tekla Hajdu

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Tekla Hajdu: Being in the Chair Team Spring Agora Kraków – Autumn Agora Istanbul as Chairperson. Of course there were ups and downs, but I think we did our best in both events, and it was a great experience for me being part of this team and doing the work together.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Spring Agora Kraków 2018. We had everything that didn’t happen in years: the vote of confidence against the Summer University Coordination Team, the Shell motion, the tension about the Interim Activity Report of CD55, reopening the candidatures for Member of Comité Directeur, having a second round of voting for Financial Director of AEGEE-Europe and more. Apart from all the drama, in my opinion it was also the best organised Agora that I ever attended during my AEGEE time, and I attended quite many of them.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
I would like to nominate my Chair Team as the three outstanding members in 2018: Zvonimir Canjuga, Eyrin Kyriakidi and Sergey Peshkov. And I would like to also mention a few other names that I am personally thankful for: Svenja van der Tol, Erika Bettin, Lia Tuska, Veva Chmelárová and Réka Salamon.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
AEGEE-Kraków. They organised an outstanding Agora and were very cooperative in all matters with the other teams involved during the organisation of Agora Kraków. Thank you to all the helpers, organisers, to the Core Team, and special thanks to Karolina, Kasia, Ania, Mateusz and Agata, with whom we were in regular contact.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
European Elections, the final Brexit procedures, and the rising of populistic and nationalistic ideologies in everyday politics.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
I still have a few plans, but slowly I am going towards retirement as I finished my university studies and I have a full-time job now.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
At the New Year’s event “Noon Moon: Nordic NYE”, organised by AEGEE-Helsinki and AEGEE-Stockholm.

 

Zvonimir Canjuga, former Vice-Chairperson, AEGEE-Zagreb

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Zvonimir Canjuga: Two moments in particular. Vice-chairing both Agoras in 2018. It was a new position and something I had never done before. The amount of work for us put into preparation and implementation of those Agoras was impressive. We literally lived for these two events.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
The whole atmosphere during Agora Kraków was amazing. A lot of questions, discussions and tensions during that event is what we need on every Agora. Yes we are all volunteers and we are fighting for our goals, but we also need to take responsibility for the work we are doing and we need to be able to take some bad criticism. The argument and playing on feelings that we are volunteers and should be able to make mistakes and continue working is in my opinion not allowed on top management positions within AEGEE. We showed one healthy and productive democratic process.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
Réka Salamon and Tekla Hajdu. Their dedication for Agora Istanbul and the Chair team was amazing and I am once again happy and flattered I had a chance to work with them after our CD year. They are my friends and role models, and seeing them work made me learn a lot of new things.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
I would say AEGEE-Kraków and AEGEE-Yerevan for taking up the challenge of organizing a statutory event. AEGEE-Kraków did an amazing and perfectly organized Agora, and AEGEE-Yerevan did an impressive job with the EPM. As third local I would mention AEGEE-Salerno for their work on the thematic field.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
If I am honest I cannot name more than one. Between the mediocracy of things we are doing lately there is one shining star and that is Europe on Track. The latest version blew my mind with its level of organization and structure. A job well done. We others need at least try to get close to such a working structure on a project. I am happy to see the project developing and project management culture finally blooming. I hope it will keep developing like that.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
We have elections for the European parliament which will define the future of Europe. We need to use AEGEE to prepare ourselves and our friends and families to make the best possible decision for the future of Europe. The second one is that AEGEE will start consultations and drafting a new Strategic Plan. We need to filter out bad ideas for the Focus areas more carefully so we do not repeat the mistake from the last time. There we had a huge campaign and hype about the topic equal rights, but now, out of the sudden, there is nobody willing to take responsibility. This is making their working group uneffective, wasting money and time, when we could have developed other thematic fields instead.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
I am secretary of the Foundation AEGEE Trust Fund, so I will keep an eye on that and try to join some Les Anciens events, if my time allows. I am also here for any member that needs my input or help for something.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
A few of us from AEGEE-Zagreb rented a van and will crash AEGEE-Maribor’s New Year party. Party hard and go home!

 

Veronika Chmelárová, Chairperson of the Agora, Speaker of the Data Privacy Committee, AEGEE-London

Veronika Chmelárová (left) with Monika Mojak

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Veronika Chmelárová: I have to say that my very personal highlight was Agora Kraków, thanks to the work with two great teams of people. It was challenging, I dare say for all of us, but we supported each other in order to make it.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
Choosing just a few people out of those many who are working towards making AEGEE better is extremely hard. I am going to say Stefi Ciuraru from AEGEE-Bucuresti for the amazing sacrifice she is making with her whole team. Organizing an Agora in six months is remarkable and deserves respect. Lucia Gavulová from AEGEE-Academy, because of everything she did in the past five years as a member of AEGEE and the lift she gave the Academy when it was needed. Daniel Amesz, former MedCom president, who worked very hard on the data privacy structures and implementation in AEGEE. Finally, I can’t do else than also to highlight the IT team of the new Online Membership System: Sergey, Nico and Fabrizio.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
I am sure that the Agora locals will get most of the nominations, but I can’t help myself and not say AEGEE-Kraków. Their Agora was one of the best I have been to, if not the one. And AEGEE-Istanbul for making an Agora happen under unbelievably challenging conditions.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
The most outstanding project for me is definitely Y Vote. The concept of the project is great, while we can also see them be very active and successful in their mission.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
There are quite some topics that are going to be important. Brexit is happening and we can’t look the other way, the European parliamentary elections are coming up, nationalism in the EU countries is rising, while the rule of law is being ignored or overpassed. All in all, now is the time for us to not only discuss these issues in our AEGEE bubble, but to act and shape the Europe we want to see in ten years. And I believe AEGEEans are capable of it.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
My speaker term in the Data Privacy Committee lasts until June, so my plan is to enjoy it while it lasts and work on the Committee getting stronger and sustainable, while also efficient in its work. At the same time I am honoured to be the Chairperson of Agora Bucuresti and Agora Salerno, so there is not much room for air in between those two – and as they are both important roles to me, I will focus on doing the best that I can. After both of my terms are over… well that’s something I haven’t quite figured out yet.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will spend it with friends in an undisclosed location.

 

Timo Haarman, Vice-Chairperson of the Agora, AEGEE-Enschede

Timo Haarman

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Timo Haarman: For me 2018 was a year with a lot of AEGEE highlights. First of all, the moment that I got elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Agora. But also the largest part of my board year took place this year and I attended more events than in any year before, which were all big highlights.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
One of the most memorable moments of this year for me were the events in the Caucasus! I attended both the EPM in Yerevan and the pre-event in Tbilisi, where I got to know the most hospitable people I have ever seen. I think AEGEE-Yerevan did a great job in organizing a large scale European event in a region like the Caucasus.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
For me, the most outstanding members of 2018 were Zvonimir Canjuga and Tekla Hajdu as they did a great job as the Chair of the Agora for both Kraków and Istanbul. I also want to thank them for their great knowledge transfer, which was a great beginning of my term in the Chair Team. They were always open for ideas and did a great job in handling unexpected situations.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
AEGEE-Yerevan did a great job in organizing a statutory event in the Caucasus, everything was arranged very well and I had a great time. I also want to name AEGEE-Istanbul, which showed again that with a lot of flexibility you can organize a great event, even when there are giant last minute problems which have to be solved. They showed again what the power of empowered young European students can be.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
For me one of the most outstanding projects this year was Europe on Track, I had the feeling that they really had a great reach because of good PR and a very interesting topic!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
I think sustainability is getting more and more a big topic within AEGEE. Also, as we have seen a lot of thematic content during statutory events that took place this year, I think this can get bigger and bigger in the upcoming years.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
2019 will bring some awesome things for me, like being in the Chair Team for the Agorae in Bucuresti and Salerno. But I also plan to make some more progress in my studies and to still make a lot of awesome travels with AEGEE!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
This year will be the first time in more than three years that I won’t be in the AEGEE-Enschede pub Asterion on New Year’s Eve. That’s because I am celebrating it in Russia, where I am going to attend the New Year’s event of AEGEE-Moskva and AEGEE-Tyumen, which I am really looking forward to!

 

Eyrin Kyriakidi, Secretary of Agora Kraków and Agora Istanbul, AEGEE-Athina

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Eyrin Kyriakidi [laughing]: Sending out the minutes of Agora Kraków and finishing those of Agora Istanbul? If I had to pick only one moment, that would be during an exchange we organised in Athens, seeing people have fun and a bonded team of old members and newbies getting to know AEGEE and meeting people from all over the network. It was a moment of indescribable fulfilment – don’t ask why, I have no idea.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
The moments that Chairperson Tekla Hajdu declared Agora Kraków open and closed. The first one came with excitement and stress, the second with immense relief, after everything that had happened! Agora Kraków was eventful, a motion against a sponsor, a vote of confidence, rumours about everyone and everything. Generally speaking, I don’t know if I was more stressed about the minutes or about what we would have to deal with next. I also remember the little moments of Agora Kraków, such as “the food of AEGEE”.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
When it comes to outstanding people I need to mention the Chair Team of this year’s Spring and Autumn Agorae: Tekla Hajdu, Zvonimir Canjuga and Sergey Peshkov. It was a privilege to work with the most hardworking and supportive people I have met! I cannot pick one or even mention them individually. I would also like to give an honorary shoutout to Karolina Lapczyk, for Spring Agora Kraków, and to Luca Bisighini, for his commitment throughout the years.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
AEGEE-Kraków, again, for the Agora. Secondly, AEGEE-Zagreb; they never cease to amaze me with their events, professionalism and energy. Lastly, AEGEE-Izmir, for their hard work so far and for making members of AEGEE-Athina feel like they are at home whenever they get the chance!
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
Undoubtedly, “Europe on Track” was the most outstanding project! Well-managed, significant outreach and a bonded team which stayed together. In addition, the “Europe Café” of the Politics Interest Group – and the POLIG itself – cannot be left out, since it created a significant platform for people to discuss pretty much anything that is happening around us.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
Sustainability is gaining ground as a topic, as can be seen in Europe on Track, EPM Izmir, the Society and Environment Interest Group and so on. Yet, I can’t help it but feel like it is a trend in which we need to invest more as an association so that the efforts of all the people currently working on the project will not go to waste in a couple of years. Discussing any topic is beneficial, having events, being willing to develop projects. However, I have the feeling that we need to push more, not with developing more content or with organising even more events, but in incorporating all of the work currently done into our activities; making our events – especially the statutory events – more sustainable, making the way we function greener, and all of that while not hurting the locals which struggle to realise all of the events and activities. Except for sustainability, I would say it will be POLIG’s year, with the European Parliament elections and any development on Brexit. It is an opportunity for AEGEE – not only for the European level but especially for the locals – to reconnect with AEGEE’s values and identity, which we frequently forget, especially during the recruitment season.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any. After moving away from Athens I tried to remain as active as possible. However, it didn’t really work out; neither for my own local – I can only keep up with remote tasks and occasionally chat with the new board; nor for the local in the city that I live now – my apologies. I have to admit, it was rather shocking to suddenly step out of the AEGEE bubble, but it did put things in perspective, mostly regarding AEGEE’s outreach and impact overall. However, I do hope that during the next semester I will be able to at least help out locally and attend the Spring Agora in Bucharest. And not take minutes.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will be at work from 20:00 until 8:00. Feel free to join for emotional support.

 

Laura Blake, President of AEGEE-Angers

Laura Blake (right)

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Laura Blake: I made my dream come true! We founded AEGEE in Angers!
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Too many good things happened in 2018! When we entered the network of AEGEE-Europe on the 13th of June, when we officialized our statutes at the administrative centre of Angers, when I was invited for a lunch to represent our association at the city council with the mayor, when we first met Oksana, our first party in September with more than 140 people, our first Network Meeting organized with Paris… #BoomerangAreaForever! Many good moments. But the most memorable moment was at Agora Istanbul. In front of the assembly of amazing AEGEEans, Spyros hugged me after signing the “Convention d’Adhésion” and said to me “Welcome to the family”. Wow.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
First: Lila Quaile. Former President of AEGEE-Paris, European Citizenship Working Group Coordinator, Subcommie of the Boomerang Area… At this rhythm, Lila is going to be President of I-do-not-know-what-but-it-is-going-to-be-great! She did an amazing job for the NWM we co-organized in November. For me, Lila is one of the outstanding members of the year!
Second: Oksana Propochenko, Network Commissioner. She is AEGEE-Angers’ “European mama”, giving us so much advice and love that I really feel forever grateful to her. Oksana integrated us directly so well in the network… Thank you so much again for what you are doing for us and the entire network! Third: the girls and guys of AEGEE-Angers’ board! Bastien-Quentin-Léocadie-Laura-Agathe-Adeline-Thibault-Eglantine. Ok… It is more than one member but let’s say they are so outstanding that the board has fused? Thanks to them, our organization was born and tries every day to be dynamic and innovative!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
I will say AEGEE-Istanbul for the organization of the super and first Agora I went to, as well as AEGEE-Moskova and AEGEE-Tyumen for their award of “Best SU 2018”.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
The European elections and the Franck Biancheri Award 2019 organized in Angers!
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
Continue to have fun and trying to do the best that I can as President of AEGEE-Angers. Our team is ambitious and has got new activities planned for 2019: the Franck Biancheri Project “Imagine Europe in 2040” organized in Angers in July, a Syrian cooking workshop, a mock-up of the European Parliament with the Young Federalists of Angers and of course organize more parties, trying to integrate the best that we can students from abroad in France and so on. Let’s come and visit us, you are really welcome in the Loire Valley!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Unfortunately I will stay in Angers, trying to study hard to pass my exams because I have got a lot of work as a medical student! Life is not always easy but I learned in 2018 that with ambition and motivation, yes we can!

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