Who is the AEGEE member of the year 2018? Which antenna, which project was the best? What were the highlights of the year? And what will 2019 bring? The Golden Times asked more than 70 active members. Over the next two weeks you can see what they answered. In this edition: read what Philipp Blum, Jorge Sánchez Hernández, Anya Radul, Justyna Kobierecka, Lorenzo Ligas and Verónica Pérez said.

Philipp Blum, Project Manager Y Vote, AEGEE-Aachen and AEGEE-Hamburg

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Philipp Blum: The first Y Vote Convention was an amazing point in my AEGEE year – finally seeing that the work paid off. The amount of stress I felt the days before was not healthy, I guess, but it disappeared quickly. A special thanks to Desireé van Langen, Marco Daniele and Marina Muşetescu!
Secondly, attending non-AEGEE events! I visited some events of JEF, EMI, Volt and the European Parliament offices, and it’s great to see how we are similar – and different. I think after years in AEGEE people have so many prejudices towards each other, that we don’t profit enough from the knowledge the other people have. Going outside of the bubble of your friends really makes you pay attention more, in my opinion. Last but not least, being able to launch an app I thought about for a long time was a great experience! I would like to thank Cornelis Boon in particular for our nice coding sessions during the Agora.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
As has been mentioned in other interviews this year, Agorae. I do we think we should be critical, and I also do think we should be valuing voluntary work – but we do tend to forget that they can go hand in hand. I can value your work a lot, but still think some part of the organisation was bad. I always feel bad in these situations, especially around an Agora. It’s a lot of work to organise such an event, but it doesn’t mean everything has to be praised. And often it’s either one or the other.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
My top six are definitely the people in my team: Anna Süß, Katharina Krüll, Doro Harles, Elitsa Hadzhieva, Florian Wagner, Leonardo Manganelli and Leonie Riebesam! It’s a pleasure to work with you guys! Apart from these, I would like to thank Maria Ballesteros, Loes Rutten and Nadia Deis for their work with us until Summer.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
I would like to highlight that the “Why European Parliament” (YEP) project has shown that “External Projects” can actually be integrated into an NGO, and projects don’t have to be completely off from the normal work we do. I remember joining AEGEE and hearing terms like GREAT, OPIN and others, but nothing ever really reached me as a member. In this sense – I was really happy to see YEP happening – it wasn’t perfect, but I think it has boosted the work of Y Vote and “30 Years of SU” in particular.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
The European Elections will dominate the first months, I think – and hope… And then, after the CD has gotten many grants and big new ideas, these have to be implemented and integrated into the volunteering work – in order for these grants to have a sustainable impact. As mentioned before, I think external projects can have a big influence, but only if done in an integrated way.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
Finish Y Vote, stop having AEGEE as my priority, but hopefully not attending my last Agora yet!

 

Jorge Sánchez Hernández, Europe on Track 5 Project Manager, AEGEE-Dresden

Jorge Sánchez Hernández

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Jorge Sánchez Hernández: This year has been full of highlights in my AEGEE life, but I will only tell two: First, becoming honorary member of AEGEE-Dresden and the standing ovation from the members of AEGEE-Dresden. This is one of the most satisfying moments that a founder can have. I am extremely proud of what they are achieving and cannot believe it has grown so much. Second: my team of Europe on Track 5. The hundreds of online meetings, the thousands of Slack messages, the laughing, the butterflies in the stomach when presenting the topic in Agora Catania, the rush at the conference in Thessaloniki, the bad jokes, the Telegram stickers, the all-nighters… and the best moment of all: the end of Europe on Track 5, the results presentation in the plenary at Agora Kraków, with everyone hugging, watching the first aftermovie of Europe on Track and the audience standing afterwards. Priceless. I will always remember this presentation with joy and pride of what we achieved together.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
María Ballesteros has been definitely the most outstanding member this year as External Relations Director and on her new post as Project Officer. She continuously raises the level of everything she is involved in and deserves more credit for what she does! Thank you, María! I would also like to mention Ola Miklasińska for her work this year in AEGEE in general. I know she is going to do great things in the future.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
For me, AEGEE-Dresden has grown a lot this year in terms of organizational culture, quality and numbers. I can’t wait to see what they are preparing for the upcoming year. They have all my trust and support. I would also like to mention AEGEE-Thessaloniki for the amazing Smart Cities conference and the collaboration with both the mayor’s office and the university.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
I might be biased, but I believe that “Europe on Track 5: Can you hear the ECO?” definitely raised the expectations of AEGEE-Europe projects, and would like to have a shoutout to all 300+ volunteers who helped make it possible for all your sleepless nights and hours of your free time. Thank you!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
Besides the European elections, I would like to see a raise in ambitions of what AEGEE should be doing in terms of climate change.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
My plan is to fade away from AEGEE. Out of my 66 months in AEGEE, I have attended international events in 51 months. I have been to 67 international events, founded AEGEE-Dresden, met literally thousands of people, got to know myself, made a career out of my volunteering experience, learned how to learn and how to teach, appeared in a documentary, volunteered at the AEGEE house and closed international partnerships, run the biggest project of AEGEE in years, spoke in front of thousands of people and at the United Nations, loved, cried, and understood my own life mission and passion: climate change mitigation. It’s been the best chapter of my life so far, but it’s time to find new challenges outside AEGEE, where I can focus on climate action.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I will stay active within The Academy, training AEGEEans and will of course be always there when AEGEE-Dresden will need a hand.

 

Anya Radul, EaP+ Project, President of AEGEE-Rostov-na-Donu

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Anya Radul: Joining EaP+ is one of the AEGEE highlights for me I am most happy about. It is cool people and useful experience – in half a year as part of it I learnt more than in five years in my local! I have just come back from our Life Meeting in Brussels where I was once again convinced that becoming a part of this project was the right decision.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Well, if I counted correctly, I have visited seven international events this year. So it is not that easy to pick. I’ll name two – the first one is definitely our “Slavic FOURce” SU that my local organized together with AEGEE-Kharkiv, AEGEE-Odessa and AEGEE-Voronezh. As one of the core organizers I went through a whole range of emotions from despair to delight. I met many people who mean a lot to me now. And it was certainly a life-changing experience that taught me a lot about myself and helped to sort my life out a bit. The other one is EPM Yerevan which went just perfectly smooth in my viewpoint, from logistics to content. It was memorable in many aspects: the first Statutory event in the South Caucasus, living in hostels – I loved my Dutch-Russian ghetto, real hot topics like the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region or the relationships inside the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia. Oh and the organizers were amazing! It was my first EPM and I really enjoyed the format – not as stressful as Agorae, still quite serious and a lot of room for discussion. The best thing about EPMs is the feeling of power they give you. Like, you have a voice in defining activities that the whole network will be doing in the following year. Isn’t it cool?
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
Well, connected with the previous question I’ll say – Armenak Minasyants, the main organizer of the EPM in Armenia. It’s not only the effort and experience that makes him outstanding in my eyes but also the attitude. I mean, check his pics in social media – he seems to smile and be happy about life in 99,7% of them. Also it would be a shame not to mention Sergey Peshkov a.k.a. Borschhead. Chairing two statutory events as the main IT guy, helping extensively with the organization of our SU – imagine booking tickets from Russia to Ukraine for about 25 foreigners or preparing two different invitation letters for each of them – and still I have never heard something like “sorry I can’t do it ask somebody else” from him. I will name Rita Semchenko as the third one. Also one in the core team for our SU, she is now doing a great job as a subcommie while having hard days of studying in Germany. Rita is a great help when it comes to PR and she is giving a hand to AEGEE-Rostov-na-Donu in order to become more VI approved. She has recently joined our team in the EaP+ as well! Looks very promising!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
I’ll just say AEGEE-Kraków. The Spring Agora 2018 is now one of my favourites. I hadn’t been to any events organized by any Polish local before and didn’t know what to expect, but the organizers were really professional. And quite relaxed as it seemed.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
Hehe, certainly EaP+. A new phase was launched during the Spring Agora and I have seen it grow quite quickly. We have done so many cool things, like a Study Trip to Georgia with a new AEGEE Contact being founded as a result or a big political simulation during the Gala Ball in Heidelberg. Check out what we’re doing here: www.facebook.com/AEGEE.EaP. Also, Y Vote has been doing a massive job on promoting participation in the European Parliament election 2019. To me they seem like one of the most visible projects in AEGEE currently.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
I am really looking forward to setting new Focus Areas in 2019. I think some quite interesting and unconventional topics might pop up, like something about EU neighbouring policies – including EaP policy!
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
As I have just become president of my local, I am planning to make AEGEE-Rostov-na-Donu great again. We are a powerful team of motivated people whom I can trust and this fact gives me energy to set goals on the local level and achieve them. Besides that, I will take part in the TNT event in January, which I am super excited about. Becoming a Trainer is something I really feel like doing in AEGEE.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I am not sure yet – and it’s 11 days left, gosh!

 

Justyna Kobierecka, Desginer & VI Consultant, PR Committee of AEGEE-Europe, AEGEE-Poznań

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Justyna Kobierecka: First of all, it’s the PRC’s workshop during Agora Kraków that was delivered by our whole team. I felt true team spirit there. It was a great pleasure to finally meet in person the people you talk to and work with daily! I must also mention the Summer Event “Escapade into the woods” organised by my local. After a year abroad I came back home and was welcomed by almost a completely new team of AEGEE-Poznań. They turned out to be outstanding people and great friends. Our cooperation peaked during the summer event, which was just perfect and gave me extra motivation!
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
I guess I will never forget the hectic discussion about Shell during Agora Kraków.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
Karolina Lapczyk, main coordinator of Agora Kraków and current Network Commissioner. She is very professional and motivated. Anna Ermakova, our Speaker in the PRC. She is a wonderful leader – that kind of person who makes you do your chores without you realizing it. And Monika Mojak, former president of the Juridical Comission, current Secretary General of AEGEE-Europe and a great friend whose ambitions never stops. I would also like to say thank you to everyone who contribute to AEGEE. Don’t ever think that your job is small or irrelevant, this organization exists because of you!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
AEGEE-Kraków – no doubt about that. They organised a terrific Agora full of great content. It is one of the best working locals in the network in general and they never cease to amaze me. I couldn’t go to Yerevan or Istanbul, but I am sure these locals did a great job too!
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
Y Vote and Europe on Track for how comprehensively and professionally prepared they are. Amazing!
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
Naturally, the European elections. I am also sure environmental issues are going to become even more popular. That is something we should definitely start paying more attention to, especially here in Poland.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
I have moved out from Poznań and I am about to start a new job in Warsaw. I am still a board assistant in AEGEE-Poznań and a member of PRC, so I am going to work remotely, but I also hope I will find my place in AEGEE-Warszawa. And hopefully I will make it to Transsib this year!
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Unfortunately, no AEGEE New Year’s event for me. I’m heading to Kraków again!

 

Lorenzo Ligas, former SUCT, PRC, SubCommissioner of Netcom, Vice-President of AEGEE-Cagliari

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Lorenzo Ligas: My SUCT trip during which I visited the Summer Universities in Gdansk, Prague, Brno, Belgrade and Nis. It was such an intense and emotional experience, which gave me the opportunity to get to know more than 100 AEGEEans, help the organisers and inspire the participants with sessions about how to survive being active in AEGEE, a topic that I’ve particularly got close to this year.
Which memorable moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2018 do you remember most vividly or was outstanding?
Agora Istanbul. I am not mentioning this for the organising part, which was in my opinion great, but for the overall mood of the Agora: good vibes, no dramas, so many people inspired others and got inspired. It was great, and the boat party was so far the best AEGEE party I have ever been to.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
Could I just mention my Summer University Coordination Team as a whole person? Jani Dugonik, Laura Garcia Rueda, Vasiliki Andrioti. We have been through a lot together during the year, we kept being motivated together, showing that a strong team can overpass every difficult moment and can prove people sometimes are wrongly judging. As we said, written and mentioned many times: #UnitedWeStand, and united we stood! Also Francesca Amelia ‘’Zorci’’ Zorcolo deserves a special mention, as a great friend, partner in crime, great advisor and supporter and of course as a great Netcom and recently elected Honorary Member of AEGEE-Cagliari.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
AEGEE-Kraków and AEGEE-Istanbul for their amazing Agorae. As former SUCT member, I have also a special mention for AEGEE-Moskva for organising an outstanding Transsibb Vol 10, winner of the best Summer University of 2018. It was incredible to work with them and I can definitely say their professionality is beyond the imaginable.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
Europe on Track did an incredible job this year. In particular, their cooperation with AEGEE-Moskva for Transsib Vol 10 was amazing, they managed to create one of the best Summer University cooperations in 2018.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
I am looking forward to see the outcomes of the Short Summer Courses, now that they’re finally been implemented as new SU type into the CIA. Also, the topic chosen by Europe on Track is a hot topic nowadays in Europe.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
I am currently Vice-President for External Relations of AEGEE-Cagliari and I will be Main Coordinator for the Cagliari part of the next Summer University – yes we are doing a TSU, stay tuned! Apart from that, I am in the Subcommie team of Gabriele Nicotra, and I am a member of the Public Relations Committee, currently as an Advisor.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
I am currently doing an internship in Lima, the capital of Peru. I will be here or traveling somewhere around.

 

Verónica Pérez, President of AEGEE-Alicante

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2018?
Verónica Pérez: A special moment for me was when I was elected President of AEGEE-Alicante in September 2018. The general assembly was attended by people who had inspired me to work in AEGEE. Above all I loved to see that two people very important to me, Alvaro and Elena, former presidents and especially friends, who were quite far from Alicante, were there via Skype. I felt very supported and ready to give everything of myself this 2018-2019. I would like to thank the rest of my board for the opportunity they have given me and tell them that I trust them very much. I love you very much! In addition I would like to encourage all those members of small antennae who sometimes feel that their effort and work is not rewarded: the reward always comes, although not in the way it is expected.
Also in October we celebrated the 15th Anniversary of AEGEE-Alicante and we organized an event that included a special lunch with former members and honorary members of the antenna. During that day I felt that we were all united by the same thing, and although we were from different generations, we all felt the same AEGEE feeling. AEGEE has given me the opportunity to meet incredible, committed and dedicated people, people who have become friends for life.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2018?
Firstly, Elena Agulló, former president of AEGEE-Alicante. She was my mentor when I joined AEGEE in 2016. She is a committed and responsible person. During the time I worked with her I realized what a great person she is. I hope to have her around for a long time. Secondly, Celia Riveres, Network Commissioner. She helped us throughout the year when I was secretary and for a few months when I was president. Her love and dedication to AEGEE are transmitted every time she wrote to us and motivated us to continue working. She is also a lovely person who knew how to give us the energy we sometimes needed to keep proposing projects.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2018?
I have to mention AEGEE-Alicante and AEGEE-Málaga! In 2018 we organized our second edition of “Alicante On Fire – Hoguera’s Event”, inviting AEGEE to celebrate together our local parties full of fire, water and fireworks. We also don’t stop organising activities and projects, our Buddy Program has reached its 12th edition. We also organized the 15th anniversary of the antenna. Since AEGEE-Málaga was formed, we felt a special connection with them because the founding partners were members of AEGEE-Alicante. We know they are working very hard to bring AEGEE to southern Spain. Very soon we will collaborate with them. From here I would like to encourage them to continue working, and that everything you give to AEGEE, AEGEE gives it back to you multiplied by a thousand.
What was for you the outstanding European project or WG/IG in 2018?
I think the work done by the Gender Equality Interest Group during 2018 helped to create a more equal and respectful environment in AEGEE. I am glad that so many AEGEEans are involved in the fight for equal rights.
What do you foresee as highlight or the big topic in AEGEE in 2019?
I can’t not mention all the events and activities that AEGEE-Alicante is going to organize next year. We are working very hard to bring everything forward. Undoubtedly, also all the work being done by the Europe on Track 6 team will give very good results.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2019?
When I think about it, I get a little nervous. During 2019 AEGEE-Alicante is going to be involved in incredible projects that I will be part of as an organizer or advisor in all of them. In February we will organize an LTC, in April an event in collaboration with AEGEE-Málaga, in May we will organize a big event that we can’t reveal yet – and in July the AEGEE-Alicante Summer University. This year I feel the double responsibility of working for AEGEE because of my position in the board of my antenna. The presidency is an opportunity to work harder for the antenna. I hope that all the projects we are going to carry out during 2019 will serve to make AEGEE known in our city and motivate other people to live AEGEE as I live it.
How and where will you spend New Year’s night?
Many AEGEEans will be enjoying New Year’s events around Europe, but I will surely be at home studying for my university exams in January, preparing things for AEGEE-Alicante’s events in 2019 and with the fantastic bureaucratic procedures that come with being president. I am joking, I’ll stay in Alicante but I will celebrate the New Year’s Eve as it deserves.

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