At Spring Ago­ra Kraków, so far there will be only one can­di­date for the posi­tion of Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al of AEGEE-Europe for the term 2018/19: Moni­ka Mojak. “I have all need­ed qual­i­ties to serve as medi­a­tor of the team, be the ‘moth­er of the head­of­fice’ and the ‘good spir­it of the house’, says the AEGEE-Warsza­wa mem­ber, who is cur­rent­ly Pres­i­dent of the Juridi­cal Com­mis­sion.

Gun­nar Erth: Moni­ka, how would you describe your­self in five key­words?
Moni­ka Mojak: Ambi­tious, cheer­ful, dili­gent, empa­thet­ic, per­cep­tive.

You have a wide range of expe­ri­ence. Why did you pick the task Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al, which is by many regard­ed as less glam­ourous than Exter­nal Rela­tions or Net­work Direc­tor?
Pres­tige of the posi­tion is the last thing I would take into account when mak­ing a final deci­sion. I ana­lyzed every posi­tion very care­ful­ly, before I decid­ed to run for Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al, because for me the most essen­tial was to make sure that my skills and expe­ri­ence will fit well, and I will be able to assure that I can do my job in a prop­er and pro­fes­sion­al way. I came to the con­clu­sion that the tasks of Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al are con­sis­tent with my per­son­al­i­ty, abil­i­ties and inter­ests. More­over, I think that this func­tion is high­ly respon­si­ble and very impor­tant, it demands a wide range of skills and spe­cif­ic qual­i­ties. That is why I would not under­es­ti­mate it in rela­tion to oth­er CD posi­tions.

The Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al is often regard­ed as the “moth­er or father of the head­of­fice”, essen­tial for the good func­tion­ing and con­flict solv­ing of the team. Which qual­i­ties do you bring with you in this respect?
I am very thought­ful, open-mind­ed and respon­sive per­son. I care a lot about oth­er peo­ple and inter­per­son­al rela­tions. I am also a good lis­ten­er, who always comes with an accu­rate advice and rea­son­able solu­tion. I am dis­crete, trust­wor­thy and loy­al to those, who seek help and sup­port. I usu­al­ly don’t involve into con­flicts, but rather try to reach a com­pro­mise in every sit­u­a­tion, but when it’s nec­es­sary I’m also assertive, firm, and resilient. I have no doubts that I will man­age in this field, as I have all need­ed qual­i­ties to serve as medi­a­tor of the team, be the “moth­er of the head­of­fice” and the “good spir­it of the house”.

The Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al takes respon­si­bil­i­ty for the Statu­to­ry Events in the CD. What is the biggest AEGEE event you ever coor­di­nat­ed?
I have nev­er coor­di­nat­ed any big AEGEE event, because it demands a lot of time. With the num­ber of tasks that I had in my local as well as in the Euro­pean bod­ies, it was impos­si­ble for me to take such respon­si­bil­i­ty. The biggest event I had a chance to orga­nize togeth­er with my anten­na, was EBM Lublin 2014. It was my first event in AEGEE and an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence at the same time. I was still a new­bie and even if my tasks were rather easy and sim­ple, I learned a lot from my friends. But more expert knowl­edge about the statu­to­ry events came, when my adven­ture in the Juridi­cal Com­mis­sion start­ed. Dur­ing the last two years, I gained a good insight in the prepa­ra­tions and all the pro­ceed­ings of the Ago­ra. I was also a JC respon­si­ble for the Chair Team for the two terms, so I had a per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn about the statu­to­ry events from the wider per­spec­tive. Now I am very excit­ed to still be part of it, if I am elect­ed as a Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al.

You were mem­ber of the Ago­ra Refom Task Force. What are your ideas to improve the qual­i­ty and effi­cien­cy of our statu­to­ry events?
We still focus more on the quan­ti­ty, not qual­i­ty of the statu­to­ry events. In my opin­ion it looks bet­ter in the case of the EPM. When it comes to the Ago­ra, quan­ti­ty always has the final word. We have a lot of par­tic­i­pants, a lot of pro­pos­als, a lot of con­tent — but it does not always go along with the needs and expec­ta­tions. First, I would think about improv­ing the appli­ca­tion form, to not make peo­ple copy-paste old moti­va­tions, but rather fos­ter them to focus on the event they are apply­ing for. Sec­ond thing are pro­pos­als that are quite often not worked out enough. The first step to improve it was the “two stages” pro­pos­als sub­mis­sion pro­ce­dure. But the OMS is not adapt­ed to the cur­rent needs, so here improve­ments are nec­es­sary. Also, the aim of the new pro­ce­dure was to boost the dis­cus­sion about the pro­pos­als at the stage of their sub­mis­sion — but we need peo­ple to get more involved here. Dur­ing every Ago­ra it is notice­able that the del­e­gates are often not pre­pared. It is impor­tant to pro­vide them all nec­es­sary knowl­edge about the pro­pos­als, pro­ce­dures and vot­ings, so there is no need to explain every­thing from the scratch. We are already work­ing on it with the Chair Team. Also, the vis­i­tors are not famil­iar with what is going on, so it’s essen­tial to give them bet­ter under­stand­ing about at least basic things – the HRC is doing a good job here with their Ago­ra Men­tor­ship Project. I would also put more effort to make the Ago­ra more the­mat­ic and focus on the ses­sions and work­shops. Next, I would move more things online. For exam­ple, we could save a lot of time on ques­tions lines, if there would be pos­si­bil­i­ty to ask them online. Final­ly, devel­op­ing a clos­er col­lab­o­ra­tion between the Chair Team, CD, JC and Liai­son Office is of the essence.

As Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al you are head of the admin­is­tra­tion, there­fore also be involved in the imple­men­ta­tion of the OMS. Do you have the nec­es­sary IT expe­ri­ence and skills?
If IT class­es in school are enough – yes. Okay, jokes aside. I’m not ant IT expert, but I hope that the knowl­edge I have will be suf­fi­cient. I can always count on the great ITC team and their sup­port, so no wor­ries, we will rock it.

The archive of the head­of­fice is quite a mess. What’s your strat­e­gy to give AEGEE bet­ter access to a bet­ter struc­tured his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge base?
First of all, the doc­u­ments should be orga­nized and then dig­i­tal­ized. His­tor­i­cal knowl­edge of AEGEE is impor­tant, but there is lim­it­ed infor­ma­tion about it online. There are numer­ous doc­u­ments that can be very valu­able when used cor­rect­ly. Sources com­ing from archives can serve an inspi­ra­tion and use­ful infor­ma­tion for the new projects and ini­tia­tives in AEGEE, as well as give bet­ter overview about our asso­ci­a­tion to cur­rent and future gen­er­a­tions of AEGEEans. What is more, we should secure the archives prop­er­ly, as it is easy to pre­dict what will hap­pen with them with pass­ing time. On the oth­er hand, dig­i­tal­ized sys­tem have also its lim­its, and we must remem­ber about DPPS and the tools to pro­tect them online. It will be a long way to put this idea into prac­tice, but maybe it’s a good time to slow­ly start think­ing about it.

You write that you want to be involved in the exter­nal rep­re­sen­ta­tion. How can AEGEE’s exter­nal rep­re­sen­ta­tion be improved?
In my opin­ion the exter­nal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of AEGEE is devel­op­ing in a good way. It is impor­tant to improve the exist­ing rela­tions with insti­tu­tions and oth­er youth and non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions, as well as estab­lish new, sta­ble con­tacts and part­ner­ships, and build AEGEE as an impor­tant and strong part­ner for oth­er enti­ties. Launch­ing joint ini­tia­tives with oth­er asso­ci­a­tions, giv­ing our mem­bers more oppor­tu­ni­ties to acti­vate inter­na­tion­al­ly and cre­ate a career ser­vice office, all this could serve as the main source of infor­ma­tion for those, who are inter­est­ed in intern­ships and job offers in inter­na­tion­al insti­tu­tion, NGOs and so on.

You have already quite some pro­fes­sion­al work expe­ri­ence. Can you assure that you won’t resign when you get a good job offer?
On one hand one year is not a lot. On the oth­er hand, it’s still nice to spend this time in a good way. I will have the whole life to devel­op my pro­fes­sion­al career and get enough good job offers. Vol­un­teer­ing can give you a lot, much more than any oth­er job; and if I have such a chance to do some­thing that I real­ly like and what gives me sat­is­fac­tion, I know that this year of my life will be used wise­ly and right­ly, and then I don’t regret any job that I might reject. What goes around comes around, as they say.

You have impres­sive inter­dis­ci­pli­nary knowl­edge in the field of social, eco­nom­ic, legal and polit­i­cal sci­ence. But since you are in charge of the house: can you also fix a sink? How good are you with prac­ti­cal tools?
I am a lucky per­son, because the sink in my house has nev­er been bro­ken, so I can­not tell now how I han­dle it. But in case I will live in the CD house and the sink is bro­ken, I promise to update you how is it going with fix­ing it. About oth­er prac­ti­cal tools… I am prob­a­bly bet­ter in bak­ing cook­ies than in fix­ing bro­ken things, but I can assem­ble fur­ni­ture by myself, ham­mer nails or change the bulb for exam­ple, so I hope I will pass the test here.

Additional questions from the network

Ques­tion 1: Based what hap­pened with­in CD55, how would you pre­vent res­ig­na­tions with­in the team?
Moni­ka: It’s impor­tant to have a good leader or a per­son, whose skills and qual­i­ties will help to pre­vent aris­ing con­flicts inside the team. A per­son who knows, how to talk with peo­ple and how to keep a bal­ance between diverse per­son­al­i­ties. Work­ing and liv­ing togeth­er in the same place is usu­al­ly not easy. That’s why I believe that a good team-build­ing in the begin­ning, as well as work­ing towards a healthy atmos­phere, mutu­al trust and under­stand­ing are cru­cial here. I would intro­duce reg­u­lar feed­back ses­sions and focus on estab­lish­ing a good com­mu­ni­ca­tion between all the CD mem­bers. All the prob­lems should be noti­fied as soon as they arise, and not when it’s too late to fight with the fire. It’s of the essence to iden­ti­fy the source of the prob­lem as quick­ly as pos­si­ble and try to fix it. More­over, every­one should have the feel­ing that he or she can count on oth­ers and all the issues should be resolved togeth­er. Once I read a very wise sen­tence: “Let’s not for­get that there is you and me vs. prob­lem not you vs. me”. The CD mem­bers must remem­ber that they all play in one team and they shall sup­port each oth­er. The best way to get out of any cri­sis sit­u­a­tion is to achieve the right lev­el of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. In oth­er words: talk a lot. Also there is also the pos­si­bil­i­ty to get to know the sit­u­a­tion from the point of view of a com­plete­ly impar­tial per­son, for exam­ple a medi­a­tor. Here I would also main­tain a reg­u­lar col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Med­Com, as in the past they used to pro­vide some ses­sions for CD, to improve com­mu­ni­ca­tion and help to build a strong team.

Ques­tion 2: How do you plan to solve the fact that none of the cur­rent can­di­dates speaks flu­ent French or Dutch, as these are cru­cial lan­guages when it comes to bureau­cra­cy in Brus­sels?
Moni­ka: I was aware from the begin­ning that speak­ing French or Dutch is essen­tial in Brus­sels. As far as I know, there are can­di­dates that have some lev­el of French, I per­son­al­ly also learned this lan­guage in the past, but haven’t used it for a long time. If I’m elect­ed, I am going to sign up for an intense French course, and even if it’s sounds insane, as I won’t have much time to achieve advanced lev­el, I believe it may still be help­ful. More­over, I can count on the help of a per­son that grad­u­at­ed in French philol­o­gy and will serve with assis­tance or advice if nec­es­sary. I am sure that even if there are some lan­guage lim­i­ta­tions, we can find one or anoth­er way to deal with it.

Ques­tion 3: What do you think about the Anten­na Cri­te­ria pro­pos­al pro­posed by CD?
Moni­ka: As I am still a mem­ber of the JC, I shall stay neu­tral and avoid giv­ing my per­son­al opin­ions about the pro­pos­als, but rather pro­vide legal assis­tance here. More­over, the JC was work­ing close­ly on the final shape of the Anten­na Cri­te­ria reform togeth­er with the CD, and because all the pro­pos­als are still in process, I would like to pre­vent any poten­tial influ­ence on this one, as well as any oth­er pro­pos­al. I am aware that this answer may not be sat­is­fy­ing enough, but I hope you will under­stand my posi­tion.

 

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