New LA Member Francesca Russo: “I still have never been out of Europe”


Francesca Rus­so is known best for her year as Project Man­ag­er of the Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Coor­di­na­tion team. The ener­getic mem­ber of AEGEE-Pado­va recent­ly joined the alum­ni asso­ci­a­tion Les Anciens. Check out this inter­view and find out how she joined AEGEE when she was still in high school, how she walked bare­foot for five kilo­me­tres after not find­ing her shoes any­more at an SU and at which events you can meet her this year!

Francesca Rus­so at the Ago­ra Inspire ses­sion in Cagliari in 2014

GT: When and where were you born?
Francesca Rus­so: I was born on the 8th of Decem­ber 1987 in Fog­gia in the heel of Italy, but I must con­fess that I saw this place for the first time at the Net­work meet­ing in Fog­gia in 2013. I have lived all my life in north east of Italy!

GT: Where and what did you study?
Francesca: I did my bach­e­lor and mas­ter in Sta­tis­tics — with a focus on social issues — in Pado­va.

GT: When did you join AEGEE and how?
Francesca: I joined AEGEE dur­ing my last year of high school, back in 2006, for a Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty. I stum­bled upon an arti­cle pub­lished by a famous web­site for stu­dents about these sum­mer hol­i­days. It looked good so I went to the clos­est local to my home­town, AEGEE-Tre­vi­so, to get more infor­ma­tion. I applied and I went to Lei­den in the Nether­lands where I expe­ri­enced the AEGEE spir­it for the first time. Any­way, things didn’t go that smooth: after the first active year in AEGEE-Tre­vi­so I joined only a cou­ple of years lat­er, in 2010, by chance for an Ago­ra — and that was when I became real­ly super active in the asso­ci­a­tion.

Francesca tak­ing her stolen flag back at NWM Pado­va 2012.

GT: Are you still mem­ber? If not, when did you leave?
Francesca: I am still a mem­ber of AEGEE-Pado­va.

GT: What was your favourite AEGEE task or your great­est achieve­ment?
Francesca: Being a Euro­pean School par­tic­i­pant has always be my favorite AEGEE task! Any­way I liked a lot to man­age events.

GT: Tell us a fun­ny sto­ry of your AEGEE time.
Francesca: There are too many fun­ny sto­ries to tell… I will tell you some. For exam­ple: walk­ing bare­foot for at least five kilo­me­tres on pave­ment on an ear­ly morn­ing of our Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty, because I par­tied too much and the clean­ing machine buried my san­dals. Anoth­er fun­ny one was doing a human pyra­mid for a city ral­ly in one of the main walk­ing roads of Mari­bor or sleep­ing on a row of chairs because I came to help with­out a mat­tress or sleep­ing bag. The last one I will tell you is a clas­si­cal one: drink­ing from a bot­tle think­ing it was water and dis­cov­er­ing too late that it was vod­ka!

The human pyra­mid in Mari­bor.

GT: What was your favourite AEGEE event as par­tic­i­pant or organ­is­er?
Francesca: Tough ques­tion. It depends on the para­me­ters you are look­ing at: Net­work Meet­ing Pisa 2011 for the fun, the Euro­pean School of Entre­pre­neur­ship in San­tander in 2012 for the top­ics and the train­ers, EBM Val­let­ta in 2013 for the lodg­ing and round tables, New Year event Mari­bor 2017 for the peo­ple and the par­ties, Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Tallinn-Tar­tu 2015 for the orga­ni­za­tion… and Ago­ra Cagliari for the food!

Francesca’s favourite events are Ago­ras. In Berg­amo last year she was one of the most expe­ri­enced helpers.

GT: What were your best and worst moments in AEGEE?
Francesca: I think they all were dur­ing Ago­ras. The best one was in Ago­ra Zaragoza 2013 when I pre­sent­ed myself in front of 800 peo­ple to be elect­ed into the SUCT and the worst was in Ago­ra Cagliari 2014. There, I was very stressed out: I held a work­shop about group dynam­ics, I did an AEGEE inspir­ing speech, I did the fair as Youth Unem­ploy­ment WG, I was pop­ping up and down the stage for SUCT issues and we were still fin­ish­ing check­ing all the eval­u­a­tions for the best SU of the year that was announced dur­ing that Ago­ra…

GT: Which AEGEE mem­bers impressed you a lot?
Francesca: There have always been too many impres­sive peo­ple in AEGEE! I can men­tion just a few of the ones that come to my mind, in ran­dom order, but there are many more! Alber­to De Nar­di — with glass­es — for his strat­e­gy to make a small local big; Mag­dale­na Pawlows­ka, because she best express­es the men­tal­i­ty to par­ty hard in the evening and train peo­ple even hard­er in the morn­ing; Réka Sala­m­on for her per­sis­tence, her tena­cious atti­tude and inspir­ing love for AEGEE; and all the CD board 2012–2014 for their clear vision of AEGEE iden­ti­ty when there was almost none.

Francesca with her SUCT team

GT: Any things you regret that you haven’t done them in AEGEE?
Francesca: I am hap­py with what I did, even if there were a cou­ple of SU where I was accept­ed but couldn’t make it. Any­way, there are a few things I still would like to do: being a train­er in a Euro­pean School and the Tran­si­ber­ian Dream SU. I hope I can make it this year at least for the SU.

GT: What do you expect from Les Anciens? What kind of activ­i­ties or events would you like to par­tic­i­pate in?
Francesca: I would like to keep the AEGEE spir­it alive! So I would like to par­tic­i­pate first in the gen­er­al assem­bly and then in some vis­its around.

GT: Where do you live now and what are you doing now as main occu­pa­tion?
Francesca: I am work­ing in a multi­na­tion­al con­sult­ing com­pa­ny as func­tion­al ana­lyst for a bank. At the moment I’m in a project in Par­ma, but I don’t know how long I will stay here.

Francesca’s SUCT elves in Ago­ra Patra 2014.

GT: Did AEGEE influ­ence your career deci­sion or help your career?
Francesca: AEGEE helped me a lot to learn more about myself and influ­ence my desire to be in a coop­er­a­tive, inter­na­tion­al envi­ron­ment.

GT: As a child, what did you dream to be your future job after grow­ing up?
Francesca: It’s fun­ny, but I have always lived the moment so even as a child I don’t remem­ber hav­ing par­tic­u­lar dreams about my future career. Once in pri­ma­ry school, when they asked us to draw our future I drew a cel­lo play­er. It was what I was work­ing on at that moment, I did sev­er­al years of it. Quite dif­fer­ent from what I did after all.

GT: Are you single/married/married with 5 chil­dren?
Francesca (smiles): No sight of chil­dren yet.

GT: Which lan­guages do you speak?
Francesca: I speak Ital­ian, Eng­lish, Span­ish and get­ting bet­ter with French.

The fur­thest place Francesca has been to is Istan­bul — at the Ago­ra in 2010.

GT: What is the fur­thest place you ever went to?
Francesca: I still have nev­er been out of Europe! So the fur­thest I have ever been is Istan­bul…

GT: Which coun­try or city would you like to vis­it in the near future?
Francesca: My must-vis­it place for this year is Prague. Let’s see if I will make it this spring!

GT: What are your hob­bies? Are you active in oth­er asso­ci­a­tions?
Francesca: I’m an events/associations and self-help lover. I have become part of dif­fer­ent asso­ci­a­tions and move­ments dur­ing the years. Now I am still active in the Red Cross as youth, I am coop­er­at­ing in the Vene­to lab of Incite­ment Italy, I am par­tic­i­pat­ing in the SCI — Civ­il Ser­vice Italy – and I am still sup­port­ing AEGEE-Pado­va. And now I am also mem­ber of Les Anciens.

Francesca is still a mem­ber of AEGEE-Pado­va.

GT: What are you most afraid of?
Francesca (smiles): Afraid? What does it mean being afraid? They say go out of your com­fort zone. So I try my best to fol­low this mantra if fear comes!

GT: What’s nev­er miss­ing in your fridge?
Francesca: In my fridge there are always toma­toes. We need healthy col­or in life …even in the fridge!

GT: How would you describe your­self in five key­words?
Francesca: Hap­py, active, ener­getic, deter­mi­nate, orga­nized.