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

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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.

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