Who is the AEGEE member of the year 2019? Which antenna, which project was the best? What were the highlights of the year? And what will 2020 bring? The Golden Times asked more than 80 locally or Europeanly active members. In this edition: read what Adam Kubák, Paulina Böhm, Wouter Boerjan, Marlijn Mulder, Bálint Caesar and Oksana Spolyak said.

Adam Kubak, Network Commissioner, AEGEE-Praha

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Adam Kubak: I think to join the Network Commission and presenting my candidature on the stage in Agora Salerno and also the visit of the “last” event of AEGEE-Bratislava.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
Solidarity towards Agora Bucuresti and funding autumn NWMs/RTCs from Erasmus+ .
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
I would mention Oksana Prokopchenko. She is very dedicated to her role despite all the problems with visa and the fact she cannot be in Brussels all the time. I cannot forget Ștefania Ciuraru and her entire team to make Agora Bucuresti possible in an incredibly short period of time and with all the problems.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
I remember how AEGEE-Isparta shocked us all by becoming Contact Antennae in Agora Bucuresti with 50-60 active members already – they also organized an NWM in December. AEGEE-Salerno and AEGEE-Bucuresti for organising Agorae and managing all the problems – and there were quite many.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
I think the Summer University project is still a flagship of AEGEE in general and I have to say that this year SUCT managed communication and all the preparations very well. Also, the SMASH project was very visible.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
The diminishing of the network in the EU countries. Brexit could be an opportunity because AEGEE could bring young people from UK closer to Europe again. Also there is a lot of potential for AEGEE in Eastern European countries.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Grow with AEGEE both on European and local level.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
My amazing friends from the best SU in Bilbao persuaded me to go with them to the New Year’s event “Russian Salad”, so I hope I won’t freeze, haha.

 

Paulina Böhm, Mediation Commissioner, Main Organizer SPM Köln, AEGEE-Aachen, AEGEE-Köln

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Paulina Böhm: I will mention the Strategic Planning Meeting here. Organizing it was a very challenging but also rewarding experience and I was very proud on what we managed to accomplish.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
The discussion about Spring Agora 2020 during Agora Bucuresti. It was intimidating and impressive at the same time to observe how the discussion developed so fast.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
I of course have to mention my SPM Co-Organizer Maya Tielemann. Without Maya and her infinite enthusiasm the event wouldn’t have been possible! Together we learned a lot, both about event organization and about ourselves and I am very thankful for having her by my side. Also I would like to mention Viola Bianchetti and Alejandra Piot Pérez-Abadín for their endless dedication to our organization even after a year in the CD.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
Without question AEGEE-Köln. Accepting to organize the Strategic Planning Meeting within three months with two crazy main organizers they didn’t even know before was unbelievably brave and risky but I am very glad they trusted us and proud to call myself a member now!
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
My love goes to the Equal Rights Working Group since it was awesome to be a part of the team of 2018/19. Other than that I am very impressed by the work of Y Vote and SMASH. Both of them did a great job and showed what kind of impact we as AEGEE can have.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
Both Agoras will take place outside of Western Europe and although I am sure this will be a huge challenge for many people it is also a possibility to raise more awareness on topics like inclusion and visa issues. The new Strategic Plan will become effective and I am sure the Strategic Committee will make this a big opportunity to refocus the network on our thematic background.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
My term as Mediation Commissioner just started and I am very excited about the upcoming year and convinced that Natascha Jürgens and I will make a great team!
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
At my home town with friends, family and food.

 

Wouter Boerjan, SUCT, AEGEE-Eindhoven

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Wouter Boerjan: This would be the moment when I was sitting at home, waiting for the results of the election for SUCT at Agora Salerno. I couldn’t make it there due to exams, but plenty of friends did go. So sitting at home, no clue what was going on, until that moment when all of a sudden messages started popping up on several channels congratulating me on my new position in SUCT. Luckily afterwards I got a video of the announcing, so I can relive the moment over and over. Thanks so much to Franjo for presenting me, he did an amazing job.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
My memory linked to AEGEE-Europe that I remember most vividly isn’t that much related to people, it is more linked to the AEGEE-Europe house, in particular the attic. This all started when we were planning the Summer University. To us the house in Brussels seemed like the perfect place to spend one night to give all the participants a glimpse of Brussels. But little did we know that if we wanted to have 30 more people sleeping there, it would cost Wouter and me – yes there is another one – a whole day of cleaning the attic. As this had to become the grand sleeping place for us all. A dust covered storage space that hadn’t been cleaned out for years. Luckily in the end we managed to turn this forsaken place into an oasis of peace, which is now gladly being used by everyone visiting the house, either to have serious meetings, or to relax at the end of a workday.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
For the most amazing members I will go through different levels of AEGEE. Starting at the local level, Niek Lange. He became President of AEGEE-Eindhoven after being already one of the most active members. He is taking on so many tasks and really making the most of it all. Next up we get to Elitsa Hadzhieva. Well, what didn’t she do this year? She took care of Y Vote, she gave many, many trainings, she handled lots of money, she became President of AEGEE-Sofia, she became the Project Manager of Europe on Track and also my partner in crime now. She is just an amazing person, I am so happy to have met her and now we are both working as Project Manager and get to share a lot. Moving up we get to the person to which me and Elitsa report. It’s Hanna Alajõe, the amazing Projects Director of the CD. I already worked together with Hanna before summer, when we had the crazy idea to do a Summer University together. It doesn’t matter when you text Hanna, she will answer instantly, not sure if that is the healthiest though. But it is amazing to work with her and I wouldn’t want anyone else on her position.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
As so many projects and groups have already been mentioned, I would like to mention something else, the Chair Team. They are working mostly behind the scenes and emerge twice a year to shine for a few days. As this year I did get to see a little bit of what happens behind the curtain, I saw that there actually is a lot going on. They are managing the most vital event that we have in AEGEE, bringing together so many people to discuss all the important things within. All of it is being coordinated by them. It is not just sitting in front of 800 people and telling them to be quiet 300 times or making them say their name and local over and over. They have to make sure everything runs smoothly and all the wheels keep turning.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
The biggest threat I would say is that we try to cling to the past. There are always those comparisons made where we look at how things were done before and how great of a success all those things were. How big the network once was and how amazing the good old days were. But that’s the past, times have changed and so should AEGEE. The things AEGEE fought for many years ago should not be the same today. The events that were organised should not stay the way they are. We will need to adapt and find the right way for AEGEE to live on. If this means that some numbers will be smaller then this is fine. As long as we keep our heads clear and find who we are and what we want to strive for there will be a future for AEGEE. So this will also be the greatest opportunity for AEGEE, change. Things need to be changed. New ideas and improvements are brought up everywhere around us. 2020 will be the year to make those changes happen and make those big improvements.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I think it is pretty obvious, being the Project Manager of SUCT now. The plan is to make the Summer Universities great again. Making sure the right tools are there for people to use and the right materials are there for the promotion. As the team has been expanded now we should be able to really lift the project towards something new in the future. And who knows, maybe there is more for me to do next year.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
The plan for this year is to go on a road trip with Niek. Going towards Switzerland and spending some nights there, on the way back we will probably be somewhere in Europe to spend New Year’s eve.

 

Marlijn Mulder, former President of AEGEE-Delft

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Marlijn Mulder: My personal highlight was the SMASH training in Tblisi, I have never experienced an event before that taught me so much about myself. It also gave me a lot of tools to continue the project on local level, what we did. I found out that this subject is really close to my heart and that I want to contribute to it in the most ways I can. Besides this, I am most proud of the “Week of Europe” that we managed as a local project to launch a campaign to make young people vote, especially people from Delft and the TUDelft, who are not immediately naturally engaged in the subject of the European Parliament elections. We tried to set up events that combined the love for technical subjects to the role that the EU plays in these subject. I learned so much about how the EU and European network works!
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
For me the moment was when the President of AEGEE-Bucuresti gave an emotional speech at the opening ceremony of the Agora. I found it outstanding because she was able to formulate a problem in a way that not only made everyone aware of the consequences of low-cost European events for organizers, but also how hard it is to change that and still be inclusive. It is indeed a thin line we are walking on. And I think we can be proud of managing it so well.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
For me personally that would be Monika Mojak. She has moved heaven and earth to make the best of a secretariat, which is a lot of work, and still enjoyed working in it and in the CD team. I am happy I got to know her throughout my board year and even better at the SMASH training. She is really thoughtful and has a very good heart. I think she deserves a lot of credit on how she managed such a difficult task and then also be an interim CD member for the first part of the term. Her commitment is outstanding.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
The most outstanding antenna of this year was for me AEGEE-Utrecht, they organized not only one of the conferences of Y Vote, but also organized months of activities all over Utrecht to connect people about common issues from different views. I think the “Speak Europe” festival was very well organized and it got a lot of attention, even the BreUnion Boys were there! They had a very dedicated team that made their life about getting a lot of funding and to make the European Parliament elections something relevant for everyone. I think they did a wonderful job.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
This was definitely Y Vote. This team worked for such a long time on such a complicated subject. They tried to answer the question: “How do we get people to get involved in the European Parliament elections?” Such a hard question to answer and I think they came up with creative ideas that really made a difference. I know we cannot for sure say that we did make a difference, but fact is that the amount of first time voters that actually voted went up a lot higher than it was in the past elections. We can give ourselves a little credit for that, and that wouldn’t have been possible without this project. Also they managed to get the whole network involved with a lot of support for initiatives on local level. Thank you for that!
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
The opportunity of AEGEE is that we can find ways to get around governments that are acting against our own norms and values. I think we can make a difference and show to all the high ranked people that we as young volunteers are able to deal with adult shit. But this is at the same time also a threat. We have to be careful that we don’t end up as grumpy old people bitching at each other and blaming others for what their governments are doing. We can make a difference. Another thing that I am concerned about is the amount of people resigning from very important positions. I am not sure where this comes from, but I think it would be good to research it. There is a lot of pressure on a lot of us and AEGEE should be the place where you can relax and still develop yourself. I don’t have a solution, but I will try to figure one out.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Well, I am rounding up my first European Event with the European School on Leadership, I have a plan for an event on sexual harassment, I will join some European events and of course be present in suit!
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I am going to Beograd with a small group of friends, eager to see how they celebrate New Year there! So, we will find a local party and see what happens!

 

Bálint Caesar, Treasurer, AEGEE-Budapest

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Bálint Caesar: As I joined AEGEE five years ago, I have gained a lot of experience mostly on the local level, especially how to organise events. So, as my personal highlight in 2019 I would like to mention the autumn TNT and RTC that I coordinated on behalf of AEGEE-Budapest. These events were high level training events in the European calendar. Both events were seamless, well-organised and both trainers and participants were satisfied. One of the participants said during the RTC that this was the best accommodation that we offered in his last seven years since he had joined AEGEE.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
I don’t know why, but I would like to mention the booklet of the 30th anniversary of the Summer University project. I really liked it from the side of graphics, editing, content and pictures. I remember when I held this booklet in my hands I felt so satisfied. This booklet is a really nice material to promote AEGEE and the Summer Universities.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Firstly I would like to say Tekla Hajdu from AEGEE-Budapest, previous Board member, Netcom and CD member because she was willing to reply to me anytime, but really anytime within five minutes. She has a deep AEGEE knowledge and there was almost no question from my side where her help was not useful. Secondly I would mention Réka Salamon, previous President of AEGEE-Europe, member of AEGEE-Aachen and AEGEE-Debrecen. Any time when I saw her she was really passionate about the youth and about thematic projects. She never lost her enthusiasm about this issues.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
AEGEE-Moskva. After an unsuccessful application they didn’t give up, they applied once more for holding an Agora. And they got it.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Well, it is really hard to choose, because from my point of view there were several outstanding European projects in 2019. From my point of view the outstanding events were organised around the European Elections: Y Vote, My Europe My Say and the conventions – not only because I was part of this projects and events somehow. These were thematic events and projects, which were closely linked to the Action Agenda and to the Strategic Plan, had good results and were useful for externals.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
I have been in the board for 2.5 years as a president and as a treasurer. But I won’t apply in February at our following local elections anymore. I would like to do something else, to try myself in a different field. So for me it will be a huge change.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
It is not totally clear for me what I would like to do, but as I am working for some years with Erasmus+ projects maybe I would do more with it. And maybe, who knows, AEGEE-Budapest can organise a bigger event where I can use my experience and the motivation of our members.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I don’t know yet. Since I joined AEGEE I have celebrated the New Year’s eve once in Belgrade, other times in Budapest because we organised our own New Year’s events. But as we don’t have it this year, I will have more time to have a rest and spend more time with my family, friends and girlfriend.

 

Oksana Spoliak, AEGEE-Lviv

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Oksana Spoliak: Definitely presenting my candidature for the CD in front of 600 AEGEEans at Agora Bucuresti. Despite the technical issues and outcome, I feel absolutely satisfied having this experience in my life.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
Marriage of two formerly super active AEGEEans from two dearest to me antennae! The fact is truly outstanding because it shows how AEGEE can connect people for so long and so close, keep them motivated to maintain strong interpersonal and inter-local bonds – #AachenLvivTwinship – and result in a marriage!
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
I would name the duo of Paulina Böhm and Maya Tielemann as the two engines to run the Strategic Planning Meeting Köln this summer, run as sustainably and differently from what we are – or at least, I was – used to when it comes to statutory events as they could.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
Complementing the previous question, I cannot help mentioning AEGEE-Köln, who did an amazing job in hosting a statutory event at the level that personally impressed me – first and foremost, in sustainable terms.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
SMASH was something new, maybe even unconventional for AEGEE but indeed needed. The project that seemed to be carefully done throughout trained a lot of people and brought practical results and continuity, I hope.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
To waste our biggest power – the 13,000 members – for the sake of just talking instead of acting or misusing it.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I was about to answer with something like “I think my time to say goodbye has come”… when I saw the next question, so just stay tuned. I am curious myself…
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I wouldn’t be a true AEGEEan if I didn’t spend it at an AEGEE event! Especially, when it is organized by your home antenna. Especially, if you haven’t been at home for the past four months.

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