Who is the AEGEE member of the year 2015? Which antenna, which project was the best? The Golden Times asked more than 50 locally or Europeanly active members. In the tenth and last edition: read what AEGEE-Europe President Aleksandra Kluczka, Vice-President Réka Salamon and Network Director Maryana Semenyak said.

Aleksandra Kluczka, President of AEGEE-Europe

Ola KluczkaWhat was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2015?
Actually the current and previous terms in the CD are my highlights for this year. I am truly grateful to our network for the chance to have this experience to work for AEGEE more than full-time, which is sometimes challenging, but also very fulfilling. I feel that by working together we are making a contribution to empower European youth and to try to change some things in Europe. I am amazed by the potential of AEGEE and I believe that we are achieving a lot as an organisation. However, we should always keep striving for more, and for that we need even more activism from our network! The power of AEGEE really lies in our borderless approach, lack of national level, ability to create active European citizens and the courage to tackle European political topics from various angles, which is not so common in all student or youth organisations.
AEGEE-Europe had many memorable moments in 2015. Which one do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
With such an intense year, full of AEGEE experiences, it is very hard to choose one. For me I think these are always brave discussions by AEGEEans on European matters, such as during EPM Burgos on Europe-Russia relations, ideas for a more integrated Europe and for AEGEE by 2025 during the Brussels anniversary conference, the discussion on migration, and the Young Ukraine conference in Kyiv. But there are many, many more that deserve to be mentioned here.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2015?
I will not nominate one person, as I believe that many more people deserve recognition. I would like to thank all of AEGEE members for their work, those who are active in their locals and keeping our network alive, those who are active in European bodies, you all drive AEGEE and ensure that it goes in a common direction! I would also like to thank my CD team for their commitment for AEGEE, very hard work, ideas and motivation to make a difference!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2015?
Again, I cannot mention one or even several. I would like to thank all locals for their work and their passion to volunteer. Definitely big appreciation should go to antennae making the effort to host statutory events, to those who are organising thematic events on European topics, those who are empowering and training young people, those who are active advocates of AEGEE’s values towards stakeholders in their communities. Big thank you should also go to locals who are taking the initiative to organise content events on their own, not only with the support of European projects, because this is how AEGEE started and a valuable practice to come back to.
What was for you the outstanding European project in 2015?
I would like to thank all AEGEEans engaged in local, and European projects, as projects are one of the drivers of AEGEE and they are crucial for us to make an impact, make a difference and give the opportunity to learn in practice. I would also like to thank CD members and our employees for their work on AEGEE’s external projects, such as Quality Assurance in Trainings, EUth (online participation of youth), GR-EAT (recognition of non-formal and informal learning), MY WAY (web entrepreneurship) and Lifestyle in Mobility. For me a definition of an outstanding European project is a project that responds to current challenges that Europe is facing, that young people are facing nowadays. Even better if such a project anticipates future challenges or big topics, a project that is ahead of current discussions. For being outstanding in my opinion a project needs to be network-based, to be able to mobilise a significant part of our network to participate, to contribute, to be interested. A project that has an impact internally and externally, that has clear results, which we can spread and advocated for. We have had many projects like that in the past and I hope that 2016 will be filled with many great initiatives!
What do you foresee as a highlight or big topic in AEGEE in 2016?
I am quite sure that 2016 will be rather exciting and full of discussions on big topics. We will have many discussions on migration starting with the EPM and continued hopefully by a motivated group of people. Due to the circumstances in Europe, the future of European integration and europtimism will be something we will definitely have to discuss. I am looking forward to the discussion on Brexit, and knowing the motivation of our locals in the UK, I am sure we will hear of it more! We will have many discussions related to youth employment, mobility and civic education. AEGEE will even start a European Citizens’ Initiative on the latter! Thanks to EUth and our conviction of the importance of the topic, we will do more related to digital democracy in Europe. There will be of course other topics that AEGEE has engaged in, such as European citizenship (the Commission will publish a new report in 2016), or the mid-term review of the Erasmus+ programme. With the Agora in Chișinău, I’m sure that the topic of Eastern Partnership will be something big too. Personally, I would also love to see more discussions in AEGEE on European economy, which is such a crucial aspect of our lives. We strive for Europe that is socially, politically and economically integrated, and we seem to discuss the last one the least. I hope that there will be some people in the Network eager to take the challenge and start discussions!
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2016?
My personal plan is to make the best use of the time until the end of my mandate in the CD, to make sure that we managed to push AEGEE forward and empowered many Europeans, together with the network!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will spend it in Poland, with family. After such an intense 1.5 years, it is important for me to appreciate these rare moments.

 

Réka Salamon, Vice-President of AEGEE-Europe

Reka Salamon2What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2015?
Being elected for the member of the Comite Directeur. It has been my dream for the past four years and even after not being elected for President of AEGEE-Europe in Agora Patra, I decided a year later that there is still work I can do for AEGEE and being finally there with such a support from the network was just overwhelming. However, the moment I truly remember was the night of 31st July because I was so happy I cried for half of the night.
AEGEE-Europe had many memorable moments in 2015. Which one do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Agora Kyiv with all its memorable moments. It was amazing to see so many AEGEEans in the Ukrainian capital, and if I had to single out one momentum it would definitely be walking on the sunny Maidan Square and taking a moment to realise where we stand in the present, where people were standing only one year ago, and what can the presence of 700 AEGEEans means both in a symbolic and in a tangible way. I have always been fascinated by history itself, and in times like ours, we are the writers of future history books and this relevance has rarely given more depth to our actions as members of AEGEE.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2015?
The true heroes of the network who sacrifice sleep, time and their own resources to keep their locals active and alive, even without support or with very few people. That’s the AEGEE spirit! I also admire the ones who have given a lot for the organization and even though they faced their own hardships and rejections, they are still not turning away from AEGEE, but on the contrary, they continue giving even more. Thank you for being everything you are, Balázs Kovács, Ana Potocnik and Matthijs Overhaal.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2015?
The Turkish-speaking locals. Their country and they themselves are facing challenges that are unimaginable for Western or even Eastern European countries. Their dedication to our organization is still relentless and their will to show more and do better is unbreakable. Bravo for opening our eyes with your statement at the Agora, for speaking up when it comes to the controversial migration topic, and for continuing to grow and maintain the pro-European attitude even when it takes more struggle for you than for the rest of us.
What was for you the outstanding European project in 2015?
Tricky question for the current Projects Director! Apart from the most famous projects, I have a chance to work with the ones that might lack extensive visibility but are just as pure in spirit: the Opening Inclusion project for turning towards a matter of social inclusion towards disabilities, the Footprint project that is the last stronghold of AEGEE’s work on the field of environmental friendliness, and the Language Interest Group for keeping one of AEGEE’s evergreen flagships, the European Day of Languages, alive. I also have to say I am extremely happy to see the Your Vision for Europe project growing and prospering and launching cool initiatives like the Faces of Europe campaign. On a more personal note, I also miss some famous projects from recent years. Of course I am talking about Europe on Track. It is coming, guys!
What do you foresee as a highlight or big topic in AEGEE in 2016?
Organisation-wise, after reaching the milestone of 30 years, I think it is time for AEGEE to reflect on its current structure, revise a lot of internal processes and rethink the way we work, drastically if needed. By drastic I mean putting the focus back on the core values of our organization, to spend less time on planning strategies and more time on actions and activism that comes from our locals who have a better understanding of what AEGEE stands for and what it could be. Rebuilding the system of internal education has never been more crucial than now and this is more than just fulfilling the Local Training Course criterium. Thematic-wise, it is up to all of us what are the societal matters we would like to tackle either on local scale or by a central initiative: migration, mobility, employment are all things that will affect our lives either way, it is up to us if we want to be active or passive actors in it.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
At home, in peace and quiet in my small hometown, Miskolc, north-east Hungary. I was tempted to attend the New Years’ Eve event of AEGEE-Budapest, but I feel more need to be with my family for the holidays.

 

Maryana Semenyak, Network Director of AEGEE-Europe

Maryana SemenyakWhat was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2015?
My personal AEGEE highlight was becoming member of the Comité Directeur. Everything went very fast: once, while enjoying Lviv Jazz Festival in June, I decided to apply through the open call, a few days later I was accepted, a few days later I was in Brussels. And then: elected at Agora Kyiv. This is not only a highlight from 2015, but probably from all my seven years of AEGEE life!
AEGEE-Europe had many memorable moments in 2015. Which one do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Indeed it’s hard to mention one moment or one event, therefore I would like to remember first of all celebrating the 30 years anniversary of AEGEE! It’s our common achievement to run such a big organization for so many years, and I wish another 30 amazing years full of events, projects and great ideas!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2015?
Due to our task division I am lucky to work and be in contact with many teams, locals and members. And it would be unfair if I mentioned just a few members. Many AEGEE members, being active on European or local level, are doing a lot of every day work contributing to our organization.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2015?
It was AEGEE-Kyiv and their outstanding Agora Kyiv! They managed to gather a great team from many different locals and organized an Agora in such a difficult time for Ukraine. The team of organizers and main coordinator Anna Smailikova Pykhtina did a great job. Thanks to the previous CD for choosing Kyiv as a place for Autumn Agora. It brought attention of many young Europeans to problems which we are facing now in my country. It was also a special Agora for me – I was elected to CD. No Interim anymore! Haha! And I would like to mention AEGEE-Lviv. Six years ago we were also doing a pre-event for Agora Kyiv 2009 when we were a contact antenna having just a few members. I was very happy and proud to see them now organizing a pre-event again: they are a big active local with many motivated members!
What was for you the outstanding European project in 2015?
AEGEE has many projects, but I will highlight these: Eastern Partnership Project, Election Observation Project, and as always – Summer University project.
What do you foresee as a highlight or big topic in AEGEE in 2016?
Of course one of the biggest topics for AEGEE as for whole Europe in 2016 will be the EPM topic about refuges crisis. I am also looking forward to implementing our new project AEGEE Day, which should bring up the attention of the whole network in one topic. It is a nice idea to remember about AEGEE not only every five years, but every year. I am also waiting for the two Agoras: Bergamo and Chisinau.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2016?
My documents! Probably I’ll need to wait for a few months for the documents which officially let me stay in Belgium… just kidding. Anyway, till August it is very clear what I am going to do: I will be in Brussels, working every day for AEGEE. And trying also to enjoy life from time to time here with my new friends, even if I can’t leave this country. Of course sometimes bureaucracy is putting my mood down, but I consider it as another experience in my life.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I don’t have many options as I need to wait for my documents. So as I can’t visit my family I invited them to visit me in Brussels: I will spend New Year’s Eve with family and friends the in AEGEE House. During the other days we will visit also Bruges, Antwerp and some other places in Belgium.

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