At the end of the 90ies, a new AEGEE local entered the network map: AEGEE-Brescia. The antenna in the North Italian industrial city near Milano quickly became a star in the network, because its members combined Italian joy of life and an incredible spirit with Swiss precision and reliability. Its founder was Gianluca Zanini, who recently became member of Les Anciens. Together with AEGEE legends such as Patrizia Menchiari and Enrico Vigliani he created a fantastic antenna that left its mark in the network.
Golden Oldie: When and where were you born?
Gianluca Zanini: I was born in 1967, 1st of March, in a small seaside town called Albenga in Liguria.
Golden Oldie: Where and what did you study?
Gianluca: I studied Medicine at the University of Milan, I later obtained a postgraduate diploma of specialisation in Radiology.
Golden Oldie: When did you join AEGEE and how?
Gianluca: I met AEGEE people in Milan in the summer of 1993 during the local SU and throughout the period I acted as chauffeur for the guests of the Summer University, then I participated in the activities of the winter 1993–94.
Golden Oldie: You were also founder of AEGEE-Brescia. How do you remember that time? What where the greatest memories, biggest challenges and rewards of this job?
Gianluca: It was the richest and most beautiful period of all my university life, full of wonderful experiences, knowledge and unforgettable friendships throughout Europe. I got to know closely cultures and made great experiences. I was very committed to increase the number of members of AEGEE-Brescia who were travelling around Europe. After so many years, my reward is now to continue to have AEGEE’s friends around the world.
Golden Oldie: Tell us a funny story of your AEGEE time!
Gianluca: At the end of the European School in 2000, organised by my antenna, AEGEE-Brescia, the participants prepared a collage to thank the staff of AEGEE-Brescia, drawing something that represented each of us. For me they drew a car, the legendary Giangi Car, which became famous in Europe, because at the time I turned up at events with this car, carrying around my AEGEE friends. The car had a horn with a very crazy sound.
Gianluca: As a single event, surely the Agora in Barcelona in 1999 and in Ankara in 1997, as well as a Summer University in Lviv. The experiences, encounters and friendships made in those events were the most important in my AEGEE life.
Golden Oldie: What were your best and worst moments in AEGEE?
Gianluca: My best time has been one long journey from 1997 to 2003, but especially the period 1998 to 2000, when the rest of my life was in trouble and just the joy of the AEGEE experience gave me the strength to continue with a smile. The worst moment was in 2003, when I had to make the decision to abandon the active life of AEGEE, as work, home and family required my full attention. But the disappointment was diminished, however, when I got elected an Honorary Member of AEGEE-Brescia.
Golden Oldie: Which AEGEE member impressed you a lot?
Gianluca: I have a name in mind, but out of respect I prefer not to reveal it, because it is a very special and very important person to me.
Golden Oldie: Any things you regret that you haven’t done them in AEGEE?
Gianluca: First of all I regret not having known AEGEE when I was younger, and then not being able to participate in more Agoras and SUs. Finally, I regret not being able to become active on European AEGEE level.
Golden Oldie: Did AEGEE influence your career decision?
Gianluca: Not really, if considering that I’m a doctor and when I founded AEGEE Brescia’s Antenna I was already working.
Golden Oldie: As a child, what did you dream to be your future job after growing up?
Gianluca: I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, for several years with the idea of going on a mission. Now I am specialised in radiology, work in public health in Switzerland.
Golden Oldie: Are you single/married/married with 5 children?
Gianluca: I am married to Fleur from AEGEE-Maastricht and I have a five-year old son. I would have liked to have six children, but in reality no one can choose the final number of their children.
Golden Oldie: Which languages do you speak?
Gianluca: Italian is my mother tongue and I speak fluent English, French and Dutch. Also learning German will be useful for my work in a multilingual country like Switzerland.
Golden Oldie: Where do you live now? What do you like/dislike about your city?
Gianluca: I live in Lugano in Tessin/Ticino, the Italian-speaking Switzerland. I like that here Italian culture is covered by a Central European pragmatism, a culture of respect for civil and social rules, individuals and workers. At the moment I’ve been living in Switzerland for too little time in order to find negative aspects.
Golden Oldie: What are your best and least liked cities?
Gianluca: My passion for travel and discovery enables me to appreciate aspects of a city which are not always obvious. For this reason there are many cities that I like, which often have a long history: Gdańsk, Kraków, Warszawa, Lviv, Leiden and Utrecht, Aachen, Istanbul, Barcelona and Moscow. For the same reason there is no city that I really do not like.
Golden Oldie: What is the furthest place you ever went to?
Gianluca: Bamako, the Republic of Mali, 6700 kilometer far from home. I went there with my parents on a journey of 46 days.
Golden Oldie: Which country would you like to visit in the near future?
Gianluca: I’d like to visit Japan, Australia and the islands of the Caribbean, possibly accompanied by the original people of those lands to get to know the true culture.
Golden Oldie: What are your hobbies?
Gianluca: Certainly travelling is high on my list, not as a tourist style hotels and villages, but in the pure sense of the journey, in search of culture, art, history and society. For this reason, travelling with AEGEE represents real travelling. I also like working with my hands, craft projects at home and in the garden. My dream is to find an old house and to restore it.
Golden Oldie: What are you most afraid of?
Gianluca: Despite appreciating solitude at times necessary, but my worst fear is being alone for the rest of my life. The second biggest fear is to die without having realised my life plans.
Golden Oldie: What’s never missing in your fridge?
Gianluca: Fruits and something sweet, usually to eat after fruits at the end of a meal. My favourite desserts are Tiramisu, I make a very good one, and chocolate with hazelnuts.
Golden Oldie: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
Gianluca: Idealistic, dreamy, passionate, generous, empathetic. These are the positive things, one thing is definitely negative: messy, in different aspects of life.