At the Agora in Bergamo AEGEE had a severe lack of candidates for the Comité Directeur: there was no one running for Secretary General or Financial Director. While Zvonimir Canjuga from AEGEE-Zagreb decided on the spot to become the new treasurer of the association, a new secretary was found only after an open call. It was AEGEE-Kraków member Katarzyna Sokołowska, who was chosen as interim Secretary General; a few weeks ago at Agora Chisinau she officially ran for the position and was elected with 94% of all votes. “One day I just felt that it is the opportunity which I would like to take. I realized it would be nice to give something back to organisation which had such big impact on my life”, she told the Golden Times.
GT: Kasia, what motivated you to become CD member?
Katarzyna Sokołowska: The biggest motivation for me was the feeling that I am ready to take this challenge and that — with experience not only from AEGEE — I can be good person for this position. I have never considered it before but, I believe we are not able to predict our life. So one day I just felt that it is the opportunity which I would like to take. I had a chance to work and live in different dimensions and I realized that it all started from AEGEE, so it would be nice to give something back to organisation which had such big impact on my life.
GT: What are the best and the worst aspects of working in the CD?
Katarzyna: Definitely the hardest aspect of working in the CD is living and working in the same house. On one side it is very practical because it is impossible to be late in the morning to your work; but on the other side there are days when you even don’t know what the weather outside is. Another positive aspect is the unpredictability of your tasks. Something new appears every day. It is very hard to plan your day because for sure somebody will come with a surprise to the house or you will receive a magic mail with a new urgent task.
GT: Did you expect your CD life like it is?
Katarzyna: Yes, more or less. When I was moving here it was my first visit to the AEGEE House, but I wasn’t surprised about the CD work and lifestyle. I had a feeling how it can look like. Of course it was impossible to predict everything, because a lot depends on people with whom you live and work, but I don’t see a lot of differences compared with the vision I had.
GT: Being in Brussels and Belgium means being confronted to a lot of new impressions. How did you cope with this?
Katarzyna: It’s not my first time that I moved to a city which I didn’t know before. I always try to start everything without any expectations which helps me appreciate new situations. I like this city because it reminds me of two places where I lived before: France and England.
GT: You were Interim Secretary General first and now you are officially elected. How did you experience your election at the Agora?
Katarzyna: It was very nice to be at the Agora again! My last time was in Patra in spring 2014, where I was sure that it would never happen again. I really liked it. I saw AEGEE from a little different perspective — not only because of the elections, but rather because of the “break from the AEGEE I had” and other experiences I gained. It was very cold in Chisinau, but adrenaline kept me warm.
GT: Let’s talk about the time before the CD. What did you study or work before moving to Brussels?
Katarzyna: Three years ago I finished my bachelor studies: Social Policy with the specialization “Management of NGOs and public organisations” in Kraków. After it I decided to take a gap year which is still on – well, it became a three years gap year. During that time I took part in an EVS programme in Macedonia, I was living and working in England and I had internships in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. I was living in many different countries which helped me understand the vison of a united Europe and appreciate the possibilities young people have.
GT: When did you join AEGEE-Kraków?
Katarzyna: I joined AEGEE-Kraków in October 2012.
GT: You were board member in AEGEE-Kraków. What did motivate you to join the board and how was your time in the board?
Katarzyna: Wow, it was quite a long time ago – more than four years! I am not sure if I still remember my main motivation. For sure I wanted to develop my skills, but I also really wanted to work for AEGEE-Kraków. I saw a potential in this organisation, felt the AEGEE spirit and wanted to do my best to make AEGEE-Kraków growing. My time in the board was amazing, it is still coming back to my mind with a smile on my face.
GT: What did or do you like most about AEGEE-Kraków?
Katarzyna: I haven’t lived in Poland for almost the last three years so it is hard to say what I like the most about AEGEE-Kraków nowadays. I can tell what I liked when I was there: the people! They were and are amazing! I met lots of young people with whom I was working, but afterward we became good friends and even today when none of them is active in AEGEE anymore we are still in touch and celebrate Christmas or spend holidays together. Also amazing in AEGEE-Kraków was the passion those people had. We shared the same values and were ready to work for them. You could see the passion in people’s eyes and that was really inspiring.
GT: Do you have any funny story that you can share with us from your AEGEE time in Kraków?
Katarzyna: Well, when I was applying to be a board member of AEGEE-Krakow I wrote my application in Comic font! I didn’t realise it until someone mentioned it during the elections. It was funny but also a bit embarrassing.
GT: What was your favourite AEGEE event?
Katarzyna: I haven’t got my favourite event… Each of them was different and it is hard to compare them. There are events which I remember, because the content was really interesting but there are also events where networking was more important and I had lots of inspiring chats with new international friends.
GT: What kind of hobbies do you have?
Katarzyna: I like sports, especially swimming. Now in the CD I haven’t got lot of time to practice but I still love it.
GT: What would you like to do after your CD term?
Katarzyna: For this moment I have no idea. I can’t plan my life. One year is a lot of time so I believe a lot can change and also new opportunities can appear. What I know for now is that probably I would like to move to England and settled down there.
GT: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
Katarzyna: Smile, sun, fun, easy-going and positive.