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 Philipp Blum, Veronika “Veva” Chmelárová, Borja Torres, Néstor Saura, Zeynep Ozan and Lorenzo Ligas said.

Philipp Blum, Y Vote 2019 Project Manager, AEGEE-Aachen

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Philipp Blum: The Y Vote Convention in Düsseldorf, where literally everything worked together perfectly.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
The “Yeah! Festival” wasn’t so “yeah”.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Jonathan Lessing from AEGEE-Düsseldorf, Marco Melatti from AEGEE-Torino and Katharina Krüll from AEGEE-Passau, as well as my team in the Y Vote Project.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
AEGEE-Düsseldorf and AEGEE-Torino!
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
May I say Y Vote?
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
Too many shady projects, too many unknown projects to be filled, not leaving enough own initiatives for people.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Agora Moskva, this and that, no more big projects.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
Home with friends.

 

Veronika “Veva” Chmelárová, Agora Chair Team, AEGEE-London

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Veronika Chmelárová: Oh I had a couple! In random order: first, the last night of Autumn Agora Salerno, when we had a little mini European night on the terrace of our cabin and we had this amazing time together as a team, then joined by other great people. Second, the last couple of days before the Autumn Agora Salerno, witnessing Carolina and her team, and what warmed me most, even their families and friends, coming all together to deliver the best experience to all of you. Also experiencing their endless hospitality. Special thanks to Sonia and her family for making this an even bigger highlight! Third, the closing plenary of Spring Agora Bucuresti, the second one.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
There are quite some moments I remember that showed the togetherness and strength of the Network. The statement on the visa issues during the last Agora, granting the first Agora in the Caucasus region, then also Agora Moskva. These are all things that to me represent a statement on their own and might influence our course in the future.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
This year I was lucky enough to work with plenty of professional and passionate AEGEEans. So I will just name teams. Special shout out goes to both my Chair Teams as they have done incredible well and I am honored to have had the chance to work with them – namely: Timo, Sonia, Tomi, Martiño, Serkan, Zenaide, Kutay, Doki, Lukas, Ann Kristin and Spyros. The second team I would like to mention is the core team of Autumn Agora Salerno, Carolina, Luigi, Alfredo, Sonia, Castiello, Brilli, Rosa, Rago, Macarena, Giuliana, Alice, Federico, Carmine and Sergio. Last but not least, the MyAEGEE team, Sergey, Fabrizio and Maria.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
AEGEE-Salerno, AEGEE-Bucuresti and AEGEE-Moskva.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
A project that is not always visible, yet still productive is the AEGEE Election Observation.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
Every threat can be turned into an opportunity and I believe we are at the point where this has to become a thing. The political climate in Europe is changing, the ecological crisis is slowly peaking. Our challenge will be to mobilize not only our members, but the general youth to help us speak out about the problems of today, so that we can be heard now since in the future it might be too late.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I am now in a bit of a transition to a calmer period, so I will continue my involvements in Chair and the Helpdesk, now also try to help organize some activities and local projects in Bratislava and then most probably retire soon enough.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I will spend it with some close friends and my dog, most probably just watching Disney movies and drinking champagne.

 

Borja Torres, Planning Team, former Netcom Subcommissioner, AEGEE-Bilbao, AEGEE-Madrid

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Borja Torres: My personal highlight in 2019 has been belonging to the Planning Team. Having the opportunity to create something as important as your organization’s Strategic Plan and having an impact on miles of people is something that will be very difficult to forget. I believe that this moment was a challenge from the beginning to the end, having to face complicated situations such as the organization of the Strategic Planning Meeting in Cologne or the preparation of the final document for Agora Salerno.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
Without a doubt, for me it was the Strategic Planning Meeting in Cologne. This event has meant the starting point of something democratic, beautiful and exciting. It was really hard to organizing an event for a large amount of people and formulating the new strategic lines of the organization. I am looking forward to 2020 in order to implementing it and to making it a success.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
For me the two people who deserve without a doubt the gratitude of having built something outstanding are Yannic Lades from AEGEE-Mannheim and Maria Zurita from AEGEE-Köln. They were able to create, organize and lead the content for 80 people during the Strategic Planning Meeting, in addition to re-building the Strategy Committee. On the other hand, I would also like to highlight the work of Dani Cervera from AEGEE-Las Palmas, collaborating with La Tripulación, SMASH and Gender Watch. Every team would like to have someone like him.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
AEGEE-Moskva. This year I had the opportunity to join the Transsib experience – #zatranssib – and it is hard to explain how a local is able to organise that trip. I hope that this will be a long period project in AEGEE.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
The Strategy Committee. It is a new team, new direction and new objective. I believe that it has been a good decision to change it from ACT and I think that it will have a great impact during 2020.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
The biggest threat and opportunity will be the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2020-23. The organization will have to adapt to the new strategy and will have to allocate the resources in a new direction.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Nowadays, I am studying a master and working at the same time, having a really short availability to focus on AEGEE. Once I will finish the master, I would like to come back and help the organization to develop new initiatives and implement the Strategic Plan 2020-23.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
As always. Christmas at Valladolid with my family and New Year’s eve in Santander with my friends!

 

Néstor Saura, EPM 2020 Coordinator, AEGEE-Barcelona

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Néstor Saura: First of all, I would like to mention all my mates from AEGEE-Barcelona and the EPM Core Team. All of us have been working hard as a real team and would deserve to appear here too! Without any doubt, for me the highlight was the announcement of the EPM hosting local during Agora Bucharest. It was really emotional for the whole team, as we had been already working for many months drafting the application, and we finally could start working for real on this project. Also it was exciting to present the event at Agora Salerno, although it was the moment when we really started to feel the pressure. About the rest of the year, I would highlight the Summer Event that we organized in Barcelona. There were not many participants, but we managed to build a nice and friendly relationship between all of us.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
For me, an important moment was the statement on the last day of Agora Salerno about all the people who couldn’t attend the last important events because of visa problems. It was hard and shocking for me because sometimes we don’t realize how big the differences in some topics can be depending on your country, even being people from your same age, a similar status and with the same vision about Europe. Apart from this, I think that the announcement of the new Focus areas is always an important moment and a turning point for AEGEE, so I am really looking forward to see how everything will work out in the next period.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Such a difficult question… Dani Cervera is one of the most active members that I know. He has played an important role in the development of the Safe Person project, but apart from this he is always doing his best to help in everything that you may need. Now he is living in Barcelona, so we are really lucky! I would like to name also the main coordinators of EPM Izmir, Agora Bucharest and Agora Salerno. Thanks for your big effort: I feel your pain now!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
I think that AEGEE-Madrid has been doing a great job in the last years, mainly because of the hard work of the board members. They have reached a great amount of new members and are always planning interesting activities and events. I love them so much! AEGEE-Köln has also been a positive surprise for me. From what I know, the Strategic Planning Meeting was a real success, but they also have been active during the whole year with many more interesting things.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Without any doubt, the SMASH project has been one of the most outstanding projects developed in the last years. All the people involved are doing a great job. Also I want to mention the Europe on Track project. After some editions, it is becoming even more interesting every year. In this case, I want to recognise also the effort of AEGEE-Alicante organizing the conference at the end of this year’s edition.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
This is an easy question for me! My biggest opportunity is having the chance of organizing such an important event as the EPM, with an amazing team working on it. By contrast, what threatens me is if we will be capable of maintaining the motivation so high in our local after all the efforts we put on this event.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I am not really sure about it. After the EPM I will clear my mind to find what I want to focus on.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
To be honest, I still don’t have any plan! The only thing that I know is that I don’t have holidays for travelling somewhere else, but it doesn’t matter, I will find a way to enjoy it anyway!

 

Zeynep Ozan, CEWG Member, SubCommissioner, AEGEE-Ankara

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Zeynep Ozan: My personal highlight could be the whole 2019 because I couldn’t believe how fast I have grown thanks to all of those opportunities I have had in this amazing and a busy year with AEGEE. Since from my first project SUPS to the present, working in the Civic Education Working Group and being a SubCom, I have felt that I am developing myself and growing through every responsibility I take and I am glad to contribute to the youth at the same time. But if you would like to know about a more specific moment, I would say Agora Bucureşti was a highlight for me where I presented my candidature and realised another challenge for myself.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Europe on Track 6 was one of the outstanding and demanding projects of 2019. I was upset that I was going to miss the opportunity to join the project in my local since I had to leave to Germany for my exchange but luckily in Berlin I joined the workshops and I followed the project through social media. Encouraging people to speak their minds in many different places is an excellent opportunity which the project brings along to show us the perceptions and the different demands of the youth on the same topics. Also with the SMASH project I think AEGEE is touching on another very important point in society and responding by taking action. I believe that we should keep this spirit and set the bar high for high quality projects.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
As many other members I have also been confronted with the discussions about our shrinking network but to what extend this would constitute a threat is based on how we choose to react to it in my opinion. Strengthening what we have now and focusing on quality could be an opportunity and following what the youth is demanding could be helpful in understanding the new generations – and to convey AEGEE to them with more communication and projects may lead the expansion of the network in a long term.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I will continue to work on my current tasks in my local, the network and in the Civic Education Working Group. There are so many projects that one can join in AEGEE. This offers amazing opportunities to develop ourselves and I would like to keep being a part of these opportunities – but at the same time I am coming to an end of my master studies so it means I should also keep my workload balanced.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
If I can manage I would like to be in my hometown İzmir with my family since I had no proper time to spend with them this year.

 

Lorenzo Ligas, Public Relations Committee, President of AEGEE-Cagliari

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Lorenzo Ligas: This year I finally had the chance to be Main Coordinator of the Summer University in Cagliari! It was a great experience to organise the Traveling Summer University together with AEGEE-Torino! We also had the chance to see that a shorter SU in Cagliari with some adjustments can work pretty well! Stay tuned!
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
Autumn Agora Salerno 2019, in which I had the chance to be part in the organising team as PR. If you saw someone working on a laptop with a paper on his chest stating ‘’wild and tired #PRbear at work, do not disturb’’, that was me. It was an amazing experience and I am extremely thankful to AEGEE-Salerno for it.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
My three outstanding members this year participated all in Autumn NWM Cagliari 2016. I would put Carolina Alfano on top of that. A great woman, a great friend and a great organiser. She was being supportive and kind, no matter in which problematic situation the team was. Antonio Castiello for being so active this year: Subcommie; helper in the Torino-Cagliari Travelling Summer University; PR Director of Autumn Agora Salerno 2019; candidate and elected as member of the Summer University Coordination Team, in my beloved position of Public Relations Responsible; and finally doppelganger of the Italian indie-pop singer Calcutta. Last, but not least, Tullio Pacelli for being active on both European and local level, and especially for still being a bastion for AEGEE-Napoli, contributing with his passion, humility and experience to the growth of the local.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
Seeing AEGEE-Bilbao on top of the ranking for the Summer Universities made me extremely proud and happy. Jumping back to my SUCT term 2017/2018: we didn’t know what would have been the outcomes of the shorter SUs nowadays. Gladly, this format is going great. I would also mention AEGEE-Moskva for their perseverance on applying again as hosting local for Autumn Agora 2020. I personally know a part of the Core Team and I am sure they will do a great job. Davai!
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Europe on Track is constantly increasing the quality of the content, creating a great narrative and storytelling by the project and the people behind it. A big congratulation also to the SUCT 2018/2019, which continued to improve and work hard for the project. I am looking forward to see the outcomes of the bigger SUCT 2019/2020 team. Having experienced myself that four coordinators are definitely not enough, I am sure they will finally have a more balanced and productive tasks division. I wish them a great term! Also a big bravo to Fabrizio Bellicano and Sergey Peshkov aka MyAEGEE team for their amazing work and dedication, thank you!
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
I am honestly a bit worried for the general line that our organization is following. Same old problem, we offer too much. Also, the Focus Areas tend to drift away from personal development and mobility. The HR cycle might bring some fresh air to the organisation, and this might be hopefully an opportunity.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Leading again AEGEE-Cagliari as President for sure is part of the plan! We are applying as hosting local for Spring NWM, we will organise a Short Summer Course and we are planning as well an international event to celebrate 25 years of AEGEE-Cagliari. I am also finishing to write my thesis about communication in NGOs, a big thank you Gunnar for your contribution in the AEGEE history chapter! And this might lead me to remove some dust from my Advisory role in the PRC, and being active again in the committee. It would be also nice to be again trainer or facilitator in an international event, maybe SUPS? PS: I was theoretically retiring this year, but as you can see plans change sometimes!
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
For sure I will spend it with my girlfriend and fellow board member companion Nicoletta… but talking about AEGEE during New Year’s eve will be totally forbidden! We will probably be with some friends, but we have no plans yet!

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