AEGEE Review 2015 (Part X): Aleksandra, Réka and Maryana

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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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