Who is the AEGEE member of the year 2017? Which antenna, which project was the best? What were the highlights of the year? And what will 2018 bring? The Golden Times asked more than 70 locally or Europeanly active members. Over the next two weeks you can see what they answered. In this third edition: read what Erika Bettin, Jani Dugonik, Monika Mojak, Jesús Baizán Barnabá, Veronika Chmelárová and Lia Touska said.

Erika Bettin, Former Chairperson of the Agora, AEGEE-Verona

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Erika Bettin: Definitely being in the ChairTeam. I thought it would never happen. I’ve repeated it endlessly, but it was an incredible roller coaster of emotions, stressful at times, engaging, frustrating, disarming… But simply stunning in all its complexity. I had the privilege to work with two different teams, each precious on their own, two different locals, two different CD appointed members and two different Juridical Commissions. My perfectly sober reaction while closing Agora Catania was the result of such an intense year that I will surely miss and remember forever.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
I have to mention both 2017 Agoras, of course. Firstly, the worst 15 minutes of my entire AEGEE life in the closing plenary of Autumn Agora Catania and for that, hands down, Svenja van der Tol should be pronounced AEGEE member of the millennium. You know, it’s 20.15, voting results are the last item on the Agenda, you are tired and then you discover that four entire votings are missing because God knows why. This is how you end with a bang! I also remember Agora Enschede and the not very polite environment surrounding the presidential elections. When you are behind the Chair Table you have a very different perspective than when you are in the audience, you need to be very detached from situations that might arise, but, still, it didn’t look like a healthy competition. There was some criticism – which is part of the job; but at the end of the day, Chairpersons are not kindergarten teachers, responsible of the behaviour of participants. Finally, passing the baton to Tekla and Zvonimir. It was a bittersweet moment to let such an important part of my AEGEE life go, but I wish them extra good luck and I’m happy they are in that position now.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
Every member of AEGEE is outstanding and we should voice more our appreciation, as a general practice. However, I would like to highlight once again the grace and the preparation of two Polish ladies: Marta Wnuk and Monika Mojak. As my second nomination I would like to break the boundaries of STEM and Humanities by telling you the name of some IT guys, Fabrizio Bellicano, Derk Snijders, Jani Dugonik and Mario Marino for their work during Agoras, but also for MyAEGEE. Keep on with your incredible job, guys. Last but not least, Marina Klanjčič. She impressed me much during Agora Enschede and the impression was confirmed while working together – also with Anna Bortoletto – for some LTCs. Ok, I’ve kind of mentioned three times more the limit, but I love to live on the edge.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
Usually here the locals that organised a statutory are mentioned, for all the good reasons, since they had the courage to provide the network with incredibly big events. AEGEE-Zagreb, AEGEE-Enschede and AEGEE-Catania, thank you very much! It is also true that many locals put their heart and soul in contributing to the association with an impressive work having an impact in and outside AEGEE. My crushes this year are AEGEE-Passau, AEGEE-Torino and AEGEE-Kraków.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2017?
This is quite a difficult question to answer. What I would love to see is that the level of engagement online that many projects have, could be met also offline.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
If I were to write a letter to Santa, asking for a wish, it would probably be a clear identity and direction for AEGEE. We should find again our place in the intricate world of student organisations, standing out by presenting a clear goal. Keeping on promoting budget travels and a multicultural experience is not enough anymore. That’s why I cannot wait to see the outcomes of three specific projects: EPM Yerevan and Youth Development and the European Citizenship Working Groups Months.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
I don’t have anything in my schedule. I know that I answered the same last year and I ended up chairing two Agoras, but this time it is for real. I will finish the minutes of Agora Chisinau and Agora Enschede – by the way, who wants to help can contact me anytime at erika.bettin@aegee.org – and then I will slowly say goodbye to the association. I most probably will stay available for some training for locals near me or be there to answer questions on procedure, but after six years and ten Agoras it’s time to move on. As it was said: goodbye, and thanks for all the fish.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
No clue here either. I was tempted to apply for some New Year events, but in the end I forgot. Probably something last minute will be organised, probably I will stay with my family. Too soon to know now.

 

Jani Dugonik, SUCT, ITC and Troll Team, AEGEE-Maribor

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Jani Dugonik: I would say it was the begining of the year where I applied to the second Open Call for the IT responsible for Agora Enschede. With this, my international involvement in AEGEE started and I learned a lot of stuff I didn’t know. A great thanks goes to Erika Betting who is also mostly responsible that I applied for SUCT! With this knowledge, I continue to be involved in AEGEE on the international level and I hope I can contribute a lot.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
It is hard to name only three people, everyone was outstanding in its own field. But personally I would say Monika Mojak and Lia Touska because we formed the Troll Team!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
I would say AEGEE-Paris, because this is where it all started and I am very happy to see them alive again and organise many events like this New Year’s event.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2017?
I believe Europe on Track and the Summer University are one of the most outstanding and promising projects in AEGEE.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
In 2018 it will be the 30th Anniversary of the Summer University project, so we are doing all we can to make this a big highlight.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
I will dedicate a lot of my time to AEGEE, especially to SUCT and ITC. For the former, we want to introduce some new things for the 30th Anniversary, so we have a lot of work. And for the latter, we want to revive the ITC and get more people. I believe that every IT responsible from every antenna should be in the ITC to follow the IT updates in AEGEE, to share ideas, improvements, or maybe to contribute, because there are a lot of tasks and not enough people. I also want to make some Erasmus+ projects with the University of Maribor and AEGEE – as well as other institutions from other countries.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will be in our event in Maribor, but for the New Year’s Night I will jump to Zagreb with my friends and then return to Maribor’s event to finish it. Those of you who weren’t in Zagreb yet, it has been voted as the best Christmas market in Europe for the second year in a row. So everyone who was not in Zagreb, don’t wait and apply next year for their advent event!

 

Monika Mojak, President of Juridical Commission, Member of Mediation Commission

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Monika Mojak: Every year in AEGEE is unique for me. It brings a lot of amazing moments, beautiful memories and wonderful people, who truly enrich my life. It’s great that our association gives us so many opportunities to develop, challenge ourselves and gives us the feeling that we can do something good and useful for others. That’s why being elected in the Juridical Commission for the second term was one of my happiest moments in 2017. It gave me a boost of energy and motivation to work even harder this year. I am so glad that AEGEEans placed their confidence in me again. This year also gave me new, unexpected friendships, the chance to meet very special people and many positive emotions in everyday life.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
I remember the very emotional speech of Marta Wnuk during Agora Enschede’s closing plenary. Her words were beautiful and inspiring, I felt so moved. We were all crying when people left the plenary room. It was a happy and sad moment at the same time, a really weird felling. You know that so many great things are still about to come, but then you realize that you cannot share them with the same people any longer – it was the last Agora of Marta as a Chair Person and Elisa and Joris as Juridical Commission members. We were so close to each other – not only as team members but also as very good friends.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
Erika Bettin is the number one for me. She is the best example to always believe in your dreams and do your best to fulfilling them, against all odds. She went a long way and put a lot of effort in becoming the Chair Person of the Agora. She is a big inspiration for me to never give up and have faith in myself. I collaborated closely with Erika before Agora Enschede and Agora Catania, then I could see how much heart she dedicated to the Chair Team and how much she loved working there.  She is also a very kind, warm and supportive person, that’s why we used to call her “Mama”, because this word describes her in the best way. Sorry Erika for saying it publicly…
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
AEGEE-Kraków: for their unfailing energy, great projects, high demands they put on themselves and the big number of applications for every statutory event. What can I say? They are unstoppable. AEGEE-Salerno: for the people, who form this local and for all their successes this year; AEGEE- Cagliari: for a well-prepared Summer University; and last but not least, AEGEE-Enschede and AEGEE-Catania for the two great Agorae they organized.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2017?
What makes AEGEE special is the fact that our association is a great place for different ideas to develop and put them into practice as amazing projects.  It is important to give young and enthusiastic people the possibility and space to develop their initiatives. Every project, working group or interest group is unique, as it touches different problems and focuses on distinct issues. But to not totally avoid giving my answer, I would especially like to name the Summer University project and Europe on Track.  It’s so nice to have such cool projects here in AEGEE and observe how they develop every year and become more and more successful.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
I believe that the topic of Spring Agora Kraków, “Destination- Europe”, speaks for itself. We should focus our commitments on building a united Europe and make the voice of young Europeans heard, to educate people and to team up to face all the big challenges our continent is going through currently.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
Within the next months my priorities will be the Juridical Commission and the Mediation Commission obviously. I am going to work actively and try to do as much as possible for both bodies until the end of my term. I still have many ideas for the further direction and improvements we can make there. I am also looking forward for the new challenges the upcoming year may bring me. I want to stay active on the European Level and have further possibilities to share my knowledge, experience and passion for AEGEE.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will spend the New Year’s eve with a circle of charming people somewhere in Kraków.

 

Jesús Baizan Barnaba, Juridical Commission

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Jesús Baizan Barnaba: Although there was no competition, because only three people ran for three places, I would say getting elected for the Juridical Commission at Spring Agora Enschede.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Surviving Agora Catania! I had some health issues and it was a bit complicated with a lot of work and not time for resting enough. Thanks Monika Mojak and Veronika Chmelárová for covering for me!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
Alvaro from European Citizenship Working Group. I think he is working teeth and nails in this first year since the new Strategic Plan started and he is organizing in these moments an absolutely fantastic and interesting event: “Citizenship at its Grassroots”. Also Monika and Veronika from the Juridical Commission: working with them is awesome! They know how to mix fun and law perfectly and I am enjoying being with. And Maria Ballesteros from the CD. She has done a lot for this association after and before she got elected and she has an important activism background. Despite the fact we do not agree on everything, it is always a pleasure to spend one or two hours discussing with her.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
AEGEE-Amsterdam: my first event was with them and AEGEE-Delft and AEGEE-Utrecht and in the pat three years I have attend at least one event organized by them every year. They know how to rock. They have an outstanding set of organization skills and they always offer interesting topics to discuss. AEGEE-León: this antenna is an example of how we have to work with the Erasmus. Their activities are always funny and crazy with a lot of shots, wine and tapas. Attending one of their events is always a pleasure. AEGEE-Oviedo: it’s time to be a bit chauvinist and talk about my local. The last two years they organized quite interesting events, but during this year 2017 we have proudly organized two specially awesome events; an RTC in collaboration with AEGEE-León and a Mini ES for we received a fantastic feedback from the participants
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2017?
I am totally in love with the European Citizenship Working Group. They are organizing interesting events, debates, conferences and develop fantastic ideas related to my favourite part of AEGEE, the europtimism.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
Starting to think who we are and what are we doing would be the best, in my opinion. Every day more people think that we have lost our direction; maybe we should organise one or two European events to find solutions and improve our impact in Europe. But, I don’t know, something related with a hot topic in Europe I suppose.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
Once I finish my term in the Juridical Commission I would like to apply for working in the next European Citizenship Working Group coordinator’s team. Also I would like to found AEGEE-Palma de Mallorca in my hometown, we live in a paradisiac island wiith impressing flight connections to every part of Europe and some motivated people. We could organize outstanding events related to an infinite list of topics from LGTB to environment protection and europtimism.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will be in Lisbon with some friends from many antennae: Burgos, Barcelona, Tarragona, Oviedo, Zaragoza, Bilbao and others. I tried to convince them to have the New Year event’s dinner in a Burger King, but they didn’t like the idea. We will meet with AEGEE-Lisboa and they will show us how Portuguese people celebrate the New Year.

 

Veronika Chmelárová, Juridical Commission, AEGEE-Berlin

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Veronika Chmelárová: Since there were a lot of them it is really hard to choose, I guess it was the ETC+ training course, because of the atmosphere. We were eight very motivated people, ready to take on some challenges and I believe we inspired each other.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or were outstanding?
Most vividly, I actually remember the reaction on the trailer video for Agora Kraków. Even I was amazed and excited and all of it in this moment, just by the character of the video. I think it was the first one where the topic and not the city itself played the main role and it filled me with expectations.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
Well, every member is outstanding, but to me there are a few very close ones and I do look up to them for their hard work and plenty of other qualities they have. One of them is my fellow Juridical Commissioner, Monika Mojak, then the President of AEGEE-Torino, Marco Melatti, and last but not least, someone whom I really admired during Agora Catania, Nadia Giuffrida.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
I guess for everyone his or her own antenna is outstanding, so for me it is AEGEE-Berlin. But I see all the amazing job that the other antennae do, therefore it is also AEGEE-Istanbul, who even applied to host the next autumn Agora – and got it because it’s wonderful – and AEGEE-Bucuresti, together with the other Romanian antennae for their outstanding AEGEE spirit.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2017?
That would be the Your Vision for Europe project and for its enthusiasm the Politics Interest Group.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
Not sure it will be one, but I definitely hope it to be: that is the internal reform in AEGEE. We all know that we as locals struggle with the number of participants on events or in general. We as AEGEE-Europe also don’t reach our potential. We can pretend all it is good and continue as it is or make some serious changes and get the great impact we deserve. AEGEE is a wonderful organisation in its core, but we need to show it.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
Those plans are still a mystery even to me! I would definitely like to continue working on the AEGEE Wiki and making it user-friendly, so that it is taken as a valid source of information, but that is about the only thing I know about the next year. Let’s all just get surprised.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
This answer will possibly disappoint you, but it won’t be on any AEGEE event. I am just going to enjoy the snow, drink champagne and watch the fireworks in the Austrian Alps.

 

Lia Touska, AEGEE-Academy, AEGEE Day, AEGEEan, Human Resources Committee, Juridical Commission and Troll Team, AEGEE-Brussel/Bruxelles and AEGEE-Sofia

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2017?
Lia Touska: It was during Agora Enschede, having my proposals accepted by the Agora, dealing with all the unfortunate events, realising I have more strength in me and of course, being a princess for some people.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2017 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
CD on Track, because it was a great initiative bringing the Comité Directeur closer to the locals. Due to health issues I couldn’t participate, but I can see it made a great impact in the network.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2017? Please name up to three.
Derk Snijders for managing to be Secretary, Incoming Responsible, Visa Responsible and IT of Agora Enschede and for finally making things move for the Online Membership System; Monika Mojak for her work as President of the Juridical Commission, being part of the Mediation Commission and member of EQAC; and Jani Dugonik for being IT of two Agorae, dealing with Openslides and all the last minute changes. Seeing the three of them developing within a year kept my motivation high.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2017? You can also mention up to three.
AEGEE-Debrecen for organising an amazing Network Meeting, rising from its ashes like a phoenix. AEGEE-Barcelona and AEGEE-Thessaloniki, for organising together an amazing Travelling Summer University.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2017?
Can I mention a committee? I think the most outstanding was the Human Resources Committee. Being only five years old, after some time of inactivity it made a great impact during Agora Enschede, bringing back the Agora mentorship system and collecting appreciation wishes for the organisers.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2018?
Except for the 30th anniversary of the Summer University project, the European School 1 in Enschede, because it will be the comeback of European Schools. I am also looking forward to see ES1 participants doing great work for our network during the second half of 2018 and for the coming years.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2018?
I don’t have specific plans because that depends on what happens with my personal plans. I’m an au-pair till the 3rd of October 2018, so I have free time to invest in AEGEE even though I cannot attend many events. I am working on the PR of the AEGEE Day 2018. My term as Secretary of the AEGEE-Academy finishes on 31st of May, but I’ll stay in the Academy. I am an assistant of the Juridical Commission, helping them with some tasks and member of HRC, where I contribute to some projects. I will continue being editor at the AEGEEan. Lastly, the Troll Team has some secret plans for 2018!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I’ll be in the Netherlands, most probably with my host family.

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