Szabina Hellinger: The Member who Ran Alone Against an Entire CD


The Gold­en Times con­tin­ues an old tra­di­tion and wants to present the new Les Anciens mem­bers to a wider audi­ence. In this first part you can find out more about Szabi­na Hellinger from Budapest, who was speak­er of the Edu­ca­tion Work­ing Group, refound­ed AEGEE-Bologna and got famous for run­ning as the only can­di­date against a com­plete CD, which stood for re-elec­tion in 2013.

Szabi­na (right) with Timea Sza­ká­ly

GT: When and where were you born?
Szabi­na Hellinger: I was born in Budapest, Hun­gary on 8th July 1989.

GT: Where and what did you study?
Szabi­na: I did my Bach­e­lor degree in Edu­ca­tion­al Stud­ies at the Eötvös Loránd Uni­ver­si­ty, where i con­tin­ued my stud­ies with an Adult Edu­ca­tion Mas­ters. I spent one year as Eras­mus stu­dent in the Alma Mater Stu­dio­rum – Uni­ver­sitá degli Stu­di di Bologna, in the Edu­a­ca­tion depart­ment. Cur­rent­ly I have an ongo­ing appli­ca­tion for the law school that I would start in Sep­tem­ber.

GT: When did you join AEGEE and how? Was there a fun­ny or inter­est­ing sto­ry?
Szabi­na: I joined AEGEE-Budapest in 2009 for the Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ties. I saw an adver­tis­ment at my Uni­ver­si­ty, some­thing like „do you want to trav­el for rea­son­able price? Come to the room XX”. I went there, reg­is­tered, applied and par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty of AEGEE-Saler­no. I didn’t know who will read my appli­ca­tion, so i wrote into the moti­va­tion let­ter things like: „I don’t have prob­lems to wake up ear­ly and to go to the library to study or to muse­ums” – so the organ­is­ers obvi­ous­ly thought I was a freak geek and reject­ed me. Than I saw an open call of their SU – they were still look­ing for female par­tic­i­pants! I called the num­ber that was left there and Alfre­do Sel­l­it­ti answered the phone. He did not under­stand at all, why some­one calls him from two coun­trys away. Luck­i­ly he found it cre­ative and moti­va­tived, so they accept­ed me in the sec­ond round.

The first Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty, Saler­no.

GT: Are you still an AEGEE mem­ber?
Szabi­na: After return­ing from my Eras­mus and start­ing to work I had to retire, because I couldn’t attend as many events as i did before. Now joined Les Anciens, my first event will be the LA meet­ing on Budapest.

GT: You became instan­ta­neous­ly famous when you can­di­dat­ed for CD in 2013, as the only can­di­date against a whole block of incum­bent CD mem­bers. What was your moti­va­tion?
Szabi­na: I didn’t think that I would become so instan­ta­neous­ly famous, and it shocked me dur­ing the Rhein-Neckar Ago­ra. I was think­ing to apply any­way, but I got the the last kick when I read the famous AEGEEan arti­cle about how the CD is „ready for its new term”, like it would be a fact that they will get re-elect­ed. I didn’t find it fair and I am con­vinced that it kept back many moti­vat­ed mem­bers from run­ning for CD.

Going for CD at Ago­ra Rhein-Neckar

GT: How did it feel to be on stage for your can­di­da­ture?
Szabi­na: I was very stressed on the stage, because I felt a reject­ing atti­tude from the mem­bers. I wasn’t sur­prised at all about the result, but i want­ed to see the can­di­da­ture through any­way, because I had prin­ci­ples.

GT: Well, the elec­tion result wasn’t bad all, although it wasn’t enough to be elect­ed. What was your favourite AEGEE task or great­est achieve­ment? 
Szabi­na: As the grat­est accom­plish­ment I would men­tion the restab­lish­ment of AEGEE-Bologna, togeth­er with Rober­to Moli­ca.

Ago­ra in Stru­ga — it was real­ly cold in the ple­nary and the hotel.

GT: Tell us a fun­ny sto­ry of your AEGEE time.
Szabi­na: There are a lot! Dur­ing the Ago­ra Skop­je-Stru­ga in 2011 we learnt how to heat up the rooms with sun­shine, dur­ing the Ago­ra Rhein-Neckar we were sleep­ing in class­rooms and we had a fun­ny com­pe­ti­tion about open­ing each oth­ers mat­tress valves. Dur­ing a Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty a par­tic­i­pant want­ed to have a pálin­ka com­pe­ti­tion with me; he didn’t realise that I was pour­ing pálin­ka for him, but plain water for me. He felt bad for the rest of SU that a tiny Hun­gar­i­an girl could drink more…

GT: What was your favourite AEGEE event as par­tic­i­pant or organ­is­er?
Szabi­na: I loved the Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Project School in Paler­mo. It was my first pro­fes­sion­al event, and got me involved into the association’s life. I also loved the Net­work Meet­ing in Pisa. In that time it was around -11 degrees in North­ern Europe and around +20 in the more South­ern Mediter­ranean region; in Pisa it was around 10. So we, who arrived from Hun­gary, Bel­gium or Ger­many, were leav­ing our coats and hunt­ed for ice-cream, mean­while the par­tic­i­pants from Spain, Greece and Sici­ly were dressed like they would want to climb the Himalaya – it was very fun­ny.

GT: What were your best and worst moments in AEGEE?
Szabi­na: I had many good moments and some not so nice, but all of the lat­ter are insignif­i­cant in com­par­i­son to how much AEGEE gave to me.

Bea­ta Matusz­ka impressed Szabi­na a lot.

GT: Which AEGEE mem­bers impressed you a lot?
Szabi­na: I met many inspir­ing peo­ple, but if I had to name one, it would be Bea­ta Matusz­ka. She did not just give 100%, but always 150% in her terms as Net­work Com­mis­sion­er and CD mem­ber.

GT: Any things you regret that you haven’t done them in AEGEE?
Szabi­na: I am very sor­ry that I could­nt recan­di­date for CD at Ago­ra Patra, but by then I start­ed to work and I could not nei­ther par­tic­i­pate, nor move to Brus­sels in case of my elec­tion.

GT: What do you expect from Les Anciens? What kind of activ­i­ties or events would you like to par­tic­i­pate in?
Szabi­na: I would like to rein­te­grate myself from a point of view, and help the mem­bers in case it is need­ed. I am inter­est­ed in many events, of course espe­cial­ly in the meet­ing in Budapest.

Hellinger’s cat.

GT: Where do you live now and what are you doing now as main occu­pa­tion?
Szabi­na: I live in Budapest, Hun­gary, and I am work­ing as Project affil­i­ate at the Prime Minister’s Office of Hun­gary.

GT: Did AEGEE influ­ence your career deci­sion or help your career?
Szabi­na: I always want­ed to work in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, and I can do it now, also thanks to AEGEE. I gained a lot from what I learnt there, like team build­ing, inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion and not to men­tion improve my lan­guage skills.

GT: As a child, what did you dream to be your future job after grow­ing up?
Szabi­na: I always want­ed to become a lawyer, but at my high school grad­u­a­tion I got scared, so I turned into oth­er direc­tions.

GT: Are you single/married/married with 5 chil­dren?
Szabi­na: I am engadged and I will have my wed­ding in sum­mer 2018.

GT: Which lan­guages do you speak?
Szabi­na: I speak Hun­gar­i­an, Eng­lish and Ital­ian.

GT: What is the fur­thest place you ever went to?
Szabi­na: It was Tener­ife, in Gran Canaria. It was the twin anten­na of AEGEE-Budapest, and we went there for knowl­edge trans­fer.

GT: Which coun­try or city would you like to vis­it in the near future?
Szabi­na: I don’t have any spe­cif­ic list, I am hap­py to trav­el any­where.

GT: What are your hob­bies? Are you active in oth­er asso­ci­a­tions?
Szabi­na: I don’t have any oth­er asso­ci­a­tion. My hob­bies include to go to gym, and to plan the wed­ding cur­rent­ly…

GT: What are you most afraid of?
Szabi­na: There are many things to be afraid of, espe­cial­ly in the cur­rent inter­na­tion­al sit­u­a­tion.

GT: What’s nev­er miss­ing in your fridge?
Szabi­na: I always have veg­an milk inside, some tofu and lots of veg­gies – we eat kind of healthy.

GT: How would you describe your­self in five key­words?
Szabi­na: Deci­sive, col­lab­o­ra­tive, open-mind­ed, pre­ven­tive, ana­lyt­ic.