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. Over the next weeks you can see what they answered. In this edition: read what Roberto Rossetto, Evita Ločmele, Antonio Castiello, Isabel Santos Alonso, Michał Szyszko and Nicoleta Mihalescu said.

Roberto Rossetto, trainer, AEGEE-Napoli & AEGEE-Academy

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Roberto Rossetto: That’s a tough question to start with! 2019 has been a crazy year, between SUPSes, the trainers tour, running for President… although I must say that my personal AEGEE-related highlight has been making a job out of it. It took three years of restless growth, but in the end today I keep doing what I loved doing in AEGEE, with the difference that it’s economically sustainable. And that’s amaaaaaaazing.

Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
When I saw the open call for trainers for MINT. “Another high quality, innovative funded project by AEGEEans? That’s amazing!”

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
There have been a number of noteworthy people, but one that really struck me is Kalipso Bznuni from AEGEE-Yerevan. I don’t know her personally, but when I saw her on stage I thought “hey, this woman is a tank!” I wish all the best to AEGEE-Yerevan for the upcoming Agora! And I feel the need to call for two more people from Bucuresti, Ștefania Ciuraru and one I haven’t yet understood whether he is a member or not: Antu. Two of the strongest and kindest people I have ever met during my AEGEE adventure. Congratulations for what you have accomplished.

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
AEGEE-London and AEGEE-Verona: two locals that are making a huge effort to renew themselves and bloom again. Agorae can be tough, but we shouldn’t forget how tough can be to organise even a dinner when you don’t have the resources for it.

What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
MEMS is funding the hell out of our events, all my gratitude and respect!

What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
As many know, the Erasmus+ budget will be vastly increased for 2021-2027. Public funding is at the same time one of our greatest opportunities and one of our greatest threats, since if we don’t improve our fundraising skills, other organizations will overbudget us into oblivion.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Retirement! I will keep being moderately present in AEGEE-Napoli and the AEGEE-Academy, I have accepted already some advisory tasks, but I believe I am done with active commitment to our association’s development. New challenges await!

How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
Probably pouring lots of sparkling wine on my fellow AEGEEans in Napoli!

 

Evita Ločmele, Policy Officer of YDWG, Strategy Committee and HRC member, AEGEE-Heidelberg

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Evita Ločmele (laughing): I guess my answer is rather predictable for a former project manager of an AEGEE-Europe project: Europe on Track 6. No matter whether it was the ambassador training in Istanbul, the closing conference of EoT6 in Alicante, the first time I saw the aftermovie of EoT6 or any one of our weekly Skypes during the year. It was an intense experience, I overcame many of my inner limits and grew as a person at a speed of light. I am immensely proud of what we achieved as a team and I grew close with many project team members and ambassadors. Even after my responsibilities ended, I haven’t lost the spirit and wear my green EoT hoodie on a daily basis and am entertained by all songs, jokes and memes related to trains.

Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
The Strategic Planning Meeting in Köln. The combination of people, content, organization, logistics and social programme was the best I have had in any AEGEE event so far. For me, it was an event that defines our organization – discussion forum, where every AEGEEan, no matter the experience, can have a direct say, contribute and influence the direction of this ship called “AEGEE”. Especially, when drafting thematic focus areas, you have to be able to think outside of the “AEGEE bubble” and decide, what will be equally interesting both for the organization and the society also in 2023. It was a demanding task, but I am satisfied and really excited to be working on implementing the Strategic Plan 2020-2023.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
The only limit for me is the sky, so I will mention five active, lovely and just purely amazing women of AEGEE-Europe, who are inspiring me on a daily basis. They are pushing me to become a better person, not only in the context of AEGEE but also personally and I am privileged to know them. CD 56 appointed person for EoT6 and policy officer of the Equal Right Working Group – Viola Bianchetti, who did all the possible and impossible to support Europe on Track 6 during her term. Youth Development Working Group coordinator and CD member: Alejandra Piot Pérez-Abadín. Her ability to combine working hard and being supportive and understanding is admirable. EoT6 route manager and CD member Hanna Alajõe, with whom we have been through a lot this year, but she always managed to cheer me up and do her work efficiently. Europe on Track 7 Project Manager Elitsa Hadzhieva: her dedication and passion for AEGEE is extraordinary. In addition, our common love for trains is simply not measurable. And, of course, AEGEE-Heidelberg member, EaP+ HR responsible, my gym and travelling buddy: Shakira Rompf. She is one of the most hardworking people I know and she is driven to achieve greatness in everything she does!

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
AEGEE-Köln for the outstanding Strategic Planning Meeting with an extra shout-out to the main organizers Maya Tielemann and Paulina Böhm. AEGEE-Passau for the NWM and their amazing members. And I just have to mention AEGEE-Tartu, both for the Y Vote convention in February, which I attended, and for having some of the loveliest members ever, who have been there for me when I needed it the most during this year.

What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Europe on Track 6. It is the project in AEGEE that crosses borders both figuratively and literally and continues to inspire thousands of people yearly. Closely followed by Y Vote as 2019 was their year to shine with the European Parliament elections in May. Furthermore, I love seeing the surge of Eastern Partnership Project+. Timon Turban and Shakira Rompf are people who are ready to work hard and are taking the project to the next level. Remarkable and a bit biased mention goes to HRC!

What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
I have a feeling 2020 will be a defining year for AEGEE. The start of the new Strategic Plan and the statutory events – Agora Yerevan and Agora Moskva – both in places, that don’t fit in your typical Europe definition, in places that have had a difficult political history, but due to enthusiasm and dedication of their members, AEGEE is once again crossing borders and asking “What is Europe for you?” Personally, I am also closely following Europe on Track 7 and I cannot wait to attend the closing conference in Leiden – #wewillchoochoo. 2020 will certainly be an exciting year and I hope all AEGEEans will be able to share this feeling with me and be active. In a year like 2020, you cannot just stay on sidelines. It’s high time to participate and jump right in.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
In 2019 I discovered the diverse world of policy and advocacy and in 2020 as a policy officer of the Youth Development Working Group, I plan to write a policy paper on mental health in volunteering. Furthermore, with the Strategy Committee we will work closely on the strategy of AEGEE-Europe. There is loads of work to be done, especially before EPM Barcelona in February, but if anyone can do it, then it is the current members of the Strategy Committee. Furthermore, I am a part of the International Core Team of Agora Yerevan, which is an innovative and a slightly crazy idea. AEGEE-Yerevan members dare to dream big and it is a pleasure to be working with them. Altogether, I am optimistic for the year ahead and will be open to all opportunities that arise. And as we all know – life has a tendency to surprise us when we least expect it.

How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I will be at home in Rīga with my family and friends. Will make loads of food, light up fireworks in our garden and just spend some quality time with my loved ones.

 

Antonio Castiello, SUCT, AEGEE-Salerno and AEGEE-Ioannina

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Antonio Castiello: The 48 hours before Autumn Agora Salerno. We got the news that we couldn’t use the gyms anymore. I felt like we were hopeless but then we solved everything in the best way possible.

Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
Every single moment of Autumn Agora Salerno, but I would like to mention the last evening of Spring Agora Bucuresti when Ștefania Ciuraru, the main organizer, was giving such a nice speech to all the organizers and helpers. I don’t know why but it was really touching for me.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
For sure my lovely “AEGEE mum” Carolina Alfano!

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
I am sorry but I must say AEGEE-Salerno – boring, right? In addition I would like to say AEGEE-Messina; I was their subcommie and I was impressed by the number of thematic activities they are doing.

What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
I think Y Vote was one of the most successful projects. I loved how they used the social networks and I saw many people involved in their conferences – I also joined one as a helper in Turin.

What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
Probably the biggest threat is the lack of motivated people that want to join local boards and European bodies. The biggest opportunity is the Web 2.0, in few words: the world of social networks. It’s the first way to get more visibility for our network and projects.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Trying to do a great job for the Summer University project and sharing all my skills and knowledge with the whole network!

How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
Finally back to my beloved city of Salerno. There is the Non Solo Sole Winter Edition and I can’t miss it!

 

Isabel Santos Alonso, former Network Commissioner, AEGEE-Valladolid

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Isabel Santos Alonso: My meeting with locals in Agora Bucuresti. It was great to see so many motivated AEGEEans gathering together to share their ideas and getting to know each other.

Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
The announcement of EPM Barcelona was a great moment, it’s a great moment when a local receives the trust to organise so important events. Of course, every announcement of statutory events was very emotional.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
First, Daniel Cervera. He has been a great subcommie, a safe person in many events, trainer of safe person and in other events too. He has also participated in the gender watch in both Agorae and has attended several events. He has shown a huge commitment and he is always so nice to everyone. Second, Joan Sánchez. He started as subcommie and has become now a netcommie and he’s planning great things. In addition, he has attended several events this year as subcommie or participant and is always spreading optimism and willing to improve things. Third, Oksana Prokopchenko. She is a great network director and is always willing to help everyone. She is the perfect locals’ mamma.

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
First, AEGEE-Palma de Mallorca. They started quite recently and have already achieved great things. We can surely expect amazing things from them. Second, AEGEE-Málaga, they became an antenna in Agora Bucuresti and organised a great RTC with their twin antenna, AEGEE-Alicante. And AEGEE-Tarragona. They have managed to overcome the obstacles they were facing to become an antenna in Agora Salerno.

What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
I would mention first the Safe Person project as they have raised awareness about a topic that concerns us all and the results are starting to be visible. In addition, I would like to mention Y Vote and the European Citizenship Working Group for helping people realise the importance of voting in the European elections by means of creating materials and organising events.

What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
Lack of proactivity and motivation. People don’t dare to take the challenge of getting responsibilities and that’s a pity as the number of actives could be higher – but this is something that we can work on and overcome.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I have been appointed subcommie by Joan, so I will keep on with that and I want to dedicate more time to my local, AEGEE-Valladolid. I also would like to attend a safe person training to learn how to help others in this type of situations and I hope I can attend EPM Barcelona at least for some days. I won’t be as active as I would like as I need to study a lot this year and I am also working with some typical student jobs.

How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I will spend it with my family in my dad’s village, spending quality time with them in front of the chimney as this year I haven’t had that much time for them.

 

Michał Szyszko, former Audit Commission, AEGEE-Warszawa

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Michał Szyszko: Ending my term in the Audit Commission. The last activity report, last audit of AEGEE-Europe, last locals to help… Huh, that was a big part of my life for last two years. And that might be a good place to thank everyone who was by my side during this time.

Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
I would mention here the Antenna Criteria reform. I know it might sound weird from me, as I never hid with being sceptical about it. But it is a reality now and its impact on the network is something I cannot ignore. And I do always respect a democratic choice, even if it is hard for me. Another thing is implementing the new focus areas. For obvious reasons: they will define our work during the next years. They are a picture of what we want to achieve as AEGEE. They are a hard job to us all, but the goal is worth it.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Honestly, to me AEGEE is not about individuals. I mean, everybody is special, but pointing most or least outstanding – that’s not very my thing. A group of outstanding individuals is good, but a team of them is great. So, if I am about to choose anyone, this would be people I made a team with last year: Rik Smale and Eren Bozkurt – great professionals dedicated to their work.

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
My choice here is AEGEE-Bucuresti. Organising an Agora is always a challenge. But considering the limited time, other problems that occurred during the organising process and still having a successful event… That’s the definition of being outstanding. And assuring overnight a venue for a prolonged closing plenary is the icing on the cake.

What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Here I will mention a project I also chose last year, but its work continued in 2019. That project is Y Vote. I have a personal sentiment to it after the convention in Warsaw. But this project is more: it is about advocacy for us all, it is about our civic activity – about our core values. It was a great job from the whole team.

What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
The shrinking network is an obvious answer about the threat, so we need to go deeper. My diagnosis: the new generation. Students joining universities now were born in 2000, or even later. No longer the millennials! They have different needs and expectations. Properly knowing them and targeting them might change that threat into an opportunity. But the task is very hard.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I am on the crossroad now. Behind me is the Audit Commission, behind me is being president of my local. Retirement maybe? No way! I am too young for that, I have too much energy and will to act. But a little break would be good for my health. And it will give me some time to make a good decision: it is not easy to choose from so many possibilities! Whatever my choice will be, I am always here, ready to share my knowledge in any aspects or experience with anyone who finds it useful.

How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
A little happiness: a little bar with friends. Not moving anywhere, I will stay here in Warsaw. I know, the whole of Europe is our home. But in this case, Warsaw is my room in the home.

 

Nicoleta Mihalescu, Netcom SubCommissioner, EQAC and HRC Member, Former board member of AEGEE-Iași

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Nicoleta Mihalescu: In 2019 my AEGEE spirit was reborn. After a small break, I decided that I want to contribute to the development of this association, by learning new things, gaining new skills and by challenging myself. One of my personal highlights of this year would be being in front of the Agora for the first time, receiving the First Prize for the “Human Rights Day 2018” on behalf of AEGEE-Iași.

Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
For the “Outstanding Member” Title, I nominate the inspiring and unstoppable: Oksana Prokopchenko, Marija Valentina Zuvic and Florina-Marieta Neagu.

Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
I would say that every year the antennae that organize the Spring and the Autumn Agora should be considered as outstanding. It takes a lot of courage and dedication to organize something as big as the Agora, so AEGEE-București and AEGEE-Salerno, thank you for making it happen!

What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Without any doubt, AEGEE is concentrating its attention on quality projects that have a common goal: to have a positive impact on people’s lives and on the environment – Y Vote, SMASH and Europe on Track.

What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
The current biggest threat is lack of motivation and involvement, and I think it will persist next year as well. I often see people who overwork; they have a local board position and are also involved at the European level for example. On the other hand, the new Focus Areas might increase the curiosity of current members and will, hopefully, also attract new members.

What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
For 2020, I am planning to successfully complete the tasks and objectives, which I have set together with my project teams in EQAC and HRC. And besides that I might consider taking another challenge on the European Level.

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