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 Alejandra Piot, Brian Brands, Cristina de la Parte Rodríguez, Daniel Sedlák, Marijana Asprovska and Franjo Lovro Popović said.

Alejandra Piot, YDWG Coordinator, EoT Content Manager, AEGEE-A Coruña, AEGEE-Brussel/Bruxelles

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Alejandra Piot: After this crazy year in AEGEE it is difficult to choose one, but something that I am really proud of is to being able to find the right people to revive The AEGEEan. Of course this is not only on me, and here I give a huge recognition to Natalia Klimenko, who was amazing doing her job, Erika Bettin for the support and the great knowledge transfer, as well as Anna Gumbau for the help and knowledge transfer.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
The Strategic Planning meeting was without doubt one of the events that marked this year, and I remember it with a lot of love. Seeing that group of people, dedicated to draft a great Strategic Plan was simply priceless. It gave me a lot of emotions and motivation and reminded me why I was still there, working for AEGEE.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
After this crazy CD year I need to mention my team, the five persons that made my year extraordinary in every sense! Their job was simply amazing: Viola, Evrim, Momo, Matis and Marco, you all deserve place number one! Here I also need to mention my beloved Elitsa Hadzhieva, she has done an incredible job in Y Vote, as assistant of the CD and now as project officer and project manager of Europe on Track. And added to all of that, a great friend that it seems I know since forever. I want to mention here also Evita, my dear policy officer, previously Europe on Track project manager. Her dedication is simply outstanding and I couldn’t wish for a better policy officer working by my side. Last but not least, I want to make a special mention to Martiño. IT, that field that we forget many times but without which we wouldn’t be able to manage most of our organisation. I want to highlight his work in The AEGEEan as vice-speaker and IT and his job as IT of the chair team at Agora Salerno. I hope he still likes me after involving him in all of this craziness. [laughing]
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
I need to mention here AEGEE-Köln, the Strategic Planning Meeting they organised was remarkable and they did an amazing job! Also AEGEE-Salerno, because they managed to overcome difficulties during the organisation of the Agora to end up with an amazing event! And my special mention goes to AEGEE-Brussel/Bruxelles, now revived and a lot of work to go, but I am simply proud of that bunch of people!
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Here I need to mention Y Vote without any kind of doubt. It was a two-year long project, that achieved a lot and was the first running campaign for the European Parliament Elections within the NGO sector, and that’s just something to be proud of!
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
I believe all the issue with the visas is one of the biggest threats for AEGEE, but it can also be a big opportunity to develop a strong campaign with other organisations and fight against injustice.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Have a great time with my working group and achieving what we proposed to ourselves, enjoy working as content manager of Europe on Track, and slowly stepping back from positions to take a more passive role in the organisation, which was about time after more than six years as a member.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
I will be in Brussels, with friends, still no plans clear but for sure it will be nice and lovely!

 

Brian Brands, former Network Commissioner, AEGEE-Tilburg

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Brian Brands: My personal highlight was my last Agora as Network Commissioner, in Bucuresti. Working on a big proposal for nine months and seeing our efforts rewarded with the approval by the Agora felt very good – and in general working in the Network Commission was a big honour. It is very difficult to express my gratitude to my old team for their hard work, the seriousness when needed and the fun when possible. I really enjoyed being a Netcommie and that was for a big part because of you!
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
The Strategic Planning Meeting in Köln! Working on the most important parts of AEGEE with such an experienced and enthusiastic group was just great. Also, it felt great that our opinion and our hard work was valued so much by the SPM drafting team. The local organisers contributed to this highlight as well, with their enthusiasm, hard work, good logistics and food! Secondly, I really think that the Agora in Bucuresti required so much effort of everyone and especially the local organisers. The flexibility and strength of our organisation has been clearly proven with this Agora. It was not perfect, but hard work of – amongst others – the local organisers, CD and chair team really paid off.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
First, Marco Daniele, Comité Directeur: I really enjoyed the work of Marco this year, as a big help for the Network Commission but also as natural leader of AEGEE-Europe, even if it was just for a few days. His work for AEGEE shouldn’t be underestimated, Marco did a lot for our organisation. Second, Monika Mojak, Comité Directeur: I have huge respect for Monika, after one year in the CD as Secretary General continuing to help AEGEE for half a year extra shows her outstanding efforts for our organisation. She really worked hard and deserved the credit! And also Oksana Prokopchenko, Network Commission and Comité Directeur: Oksana undertook huge efforts for the Network Commission as a speaker. She was always there for us, working very hard on the tasks of the commission. Her life is really AEGEE. I am convinced that her locals couldn’t have a better Netcommie than she was, dedicating so much time and effort to them. As a Network Director, she clearly continues her dedication and hard work for the network.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
There were a lot of antennae, which were standing out in a certain way, but for me the most outstanding antenna was AEGEE-Bucuresti. For organising an Agora in such a short period with limited resources and with the flexibility to even add one more day to the Agora. I really think that AEGEE-Bucuresti is an example for all locals in the network; they showed they can!

What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Y Vote! For their successful professional campaign in Europe. I found it very impressive what the members of the project achieved, and it is very good for the image of AEGEE. It is refreshing to have a positive, but politically neutral message about voting in Europe to stimulate young people!
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
For me the biggest threat of our organisation is that we lose sight of our values in 2020. We have to make sure that we listen to the opinion of all people, respect that opinion and discuss with each other without losing the value of the freedom of speech. Everyone should be able to say what they want, even if it is not your opinion. People should be comfortable expressing themselves, speaking at all events, also Agorae. It already takes a lot of courage to step up! If people are not respected, we will lose very valuable opinions while pretending to be a democratic and inclusive AEGEE. I think the biggest opportunity for AEGEE is the introduction of the new Focus Areas. I hope we can attract a new generation of AEGEEans with the introduction of new projects which are in line with European trends. If we can offer various opportunities to young people in Europe to develop themselves, we can regain our position in Europe and show everyone what we are capable of!
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
For now I will only be active on local level in 2020, organising our Summer University in Tilburg and I will stay active in the Advisory Board of my local.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
I am not sure yet, but probably I will go away for a few days!

 

Cristina de la Parte Rodríguez, Human Resources Committee, AEGEE-León

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Cristina de la Parte Rodríguez: Coordinating the Agora Mentorship for Spring Agora Bucuresti. It is one of the most visible projects of the Human Resources Committee and it helps newbies a lot, who attend their first Agora. Helping around these 70 members and making their experience better was really worth it. Also coming back to AEGEE-León, my participation in a small event they organized for a weekend. AEGEE-León has been my local for almost five years, but I don’t live in León anymore since 2017. Coming back and seeing how the antenna has evolved, the great things they are doing and how hard they work made me feel proud and happy for my antenna – and also a bit sad because I miss León.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
The debate during Agora Bucuresti about the hosting local of Spring Agora 2020. That moment represented was Agora means to me. It was a tough moment for a lot of people as a very important decision was debated, but we all could explain our concerns, our opinions and ideas. After the intense debate and with all the information the final decision was taken by the delegates.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Alejandra Piot. For her hard work as CD member during the first half of the year and as Youth Development Working Group coordinator in the second half. She has been involved in a lot of projects in AEGEE, been active member for years and still has the motivation and energy to stay contributing and working. I really admire her, she is an incredible member and friend. I also choose the inspiring former speaker team of HRC, Erwin Groot and Matthias Felder. They managed a group of 25 people from different corners of Europe and transformed it into a perfectly coordinated online team. They worked very hard and their term was a success. Thank you for patience, your hard work, knowledge transfer, the team spirit and the experience of working with you.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
Undoubtedly, I choose AEGEE Bucuresti. They managed to organize Spring Agora 2019 in less than a year and despite the economic difficulties. I think the whole Agora was a success, and it was because of their hard work and commitment.

What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
SMASH. An incredible project about a hot topic nowadays, very necessary – the statistics of the Safe Person at Agorae are alarming and prove that a project like SMASH was necessary. They trained a lot of new trainers on the topic, many of them had the opportunity to go on an SU and spread the knowledge. I really liked this project and for me was the outstanding European project of 2019.
I would also like to mention Y Vote. They did an incredible job raising awareness about how important it was to vote and mobilizing young people for the European elections.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
Our biggest threat is the shrinkage of the network. We are losing locals and active members, which are the basis of every association. We need to take action on this and redefine our identity and target group and take this threat as an opportunity.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I would like to be as active as in the previous years, but being realistic I think it is not going to be possible. I have just started a PhD on molecular medicine and it consumes most of my time and energy. But I will keep being HRC member and I am planning to attend Agora Yerevan and Agora Moscow and to coordinate the Agora Mentorship for both Agorae – I hope that my laboratory schedule and my bank account allow me to go… I am going for sure to EPM Barcelona, I am very excited for having a statutory event in Spain, and I think it is going to be epic!
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
I will be in Spain, in my village, having dinner with my family and then partying with my friends until the sun comes up.

 

Daniel Sedlák, Content Manager of SUCT and Vice-President of AEGEE-Brno

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Daniel Sedlák: There were several. It is just my second AEGEE year so to improve is actually still quite easy. Firstly, it was the moment when I got an invitation for this interview, it was pretty unexpected. But also I got re-elected to our local board this time as a Vice-President. And the biggest success came at Agora Salerno where in just a few minutes our SU, which I was the main organizer of, was announced as the 4th best of 2019 and right after that the results of the SUCT election were revealed.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
I will definitely most vividly remember the moments from Agora Bucharest as this was my first statutory meeting. Especially the ratification process of Agora Yerevan and the presidential elections were things I will never forget.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
For me, definitely Hicham Zahri and Timo Haarman from AEGEE-Enschede. We met for the first time during SUPS Lviv in February and this was actually the moment when I decided to go for an SU to the Netherlands – and it was the best decision I could have made. They were also very active during both Agorae as Timo was chairing and Hicham came up with a lot of proposals and ideas. They both did a really good job this year.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
This is a really hard one. But for me personally, I would probably pick AEGEE-Lviv. Considering that they are quite a small local, they organized a SUPS, an SU and a New Year’s event during one year and also had 17 people at Agora Salerno. If you only have around 20 active members, this is quite impressive. I think that every time you meet them the day is just a bit happier.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Firstly, I really hope we will have a successful term as SUCT in the upcoming year and on the local level. Also, I would love to move our SU in Brno on an even higher level than in 2019 – and who knows, maybe even end up in the top 3…
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
I will spend my New Year’s Eve in AEGEE style of course! I am going to the New Year’s event in Novi Sad and I am really looking forward to it. By the way, also Hicham and Timo will be there.

 

Marijana Asprovska, former SUCT, AEGEE-Skopje

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Marijana Asprovska: Without doubt it is my term in SUCT. It was a lot of work, but it was an amazing experience that I still miss from time to time.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
Definitely both Agorae were very memorable to me as it was my first time going as an envoy.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
I hate when I have to choose “the best” or “favourite” or “number one”. If I really have to choose, I would say Kalipso Bznuni, not only for her hard work and dedication to her local but also for her amazing presentation skills and strength to cope with the interrogation during Agora Bucuresti about Agora Yerevan 2020. She is such an inspiration! And of course here I would mention Chris Seuling, my fellow SUCT member for being my other half during the whole duration of our SUCT term and always being supportive and caring for the project!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
Perhaps AEGEE-Salerno for the amazing Agora and putting up with so many challenges in the best possible way.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
I cannot see this with objective eyes and name any other project than the Summer University project [laughing]. However, also the Eastern Partnership Project deserves to be mentioned – for their informative PR and for their efforts to bring more visibility of Eastern Europe among the AEGEEans.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
It is nothing new in this year particularly, rather in general: I feel that we focus much more on discussions and too less on actions, but the truth is that this is not a simple threat to resolve of course. The biggest opportunity is maybe both upcoming Agorae due to their locations? I truly believe we can have a huge impact if we put effort into having bigger visibility of the events in these cities and countries.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I am part of the international core team of Agora Yerevan, so this is my primary focus until May. Maybe I will deliver some trainings on different events in the network, but the truth is that this year I am taking a break from AEGEE due to other personal plans. Let’s see if I will really end up taking a break but at least that is the plan.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
In Lisbon with many fellow EVS and ESC volunteers.

 

Franjo Lovro Popović, Equal Rights WG, Netcom Subcommissioner, AEGEE-Zagreb

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Franjo Lovro Popović: There were many very important moments this year, so many incredible people I met and got to spend time with. It is extremely difficult to choose just one, but probably my favourite was holding my first workshop as member of Mediation Commission. I have always loved doing exactly that and having the opportunity to make my own and hold it at the spring Network Meeting in Novi Sad was a moment I will remember for a long time.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
The most outstanding moment for me was not a moment but an entire event and the process it has started after it. The Strategic Planning Meeting in Köln was, possibly, the single best AEGEE event I have attended. I have absolutely no words to describe how wonderful they have made the whole process of drafting and improving the new thematic focus and organisational areas. The moment of choosing the final focus areas in Agora Salerno was truly outstanding.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
The longer you work on the European level and the more people you meet the harder this question becomes. I will be kind of biased here. First and foremost, Elitsa Hadzhieva for her work on the My Europe, My Say project, the Y Vote project and now even Europe on Track 7! I have no idea how she is finding all that energy to put into projects, but I truly admire her dedication and hard work. Second is Maria Zurita, especially as the member of the Planning team of the Strategic Planning Meeting. The work Zurita and the rest of the team did is truly astounding and they deserve all the praise we can give them. The third person that deserves a special shout-out is one of my closes friends, but that just means I get to see all the work she puts into this organisation and how much it means to her. Outstanding AEGEEan number three is Valentina Žuvić, Vice-Speaker of the Network Commission and Netcommmie for the Baldria region. She has done incredible things in the past half six months since being elected and helped strengthening and developing many small and struggling locals in the region. Knowing her ambition and capacity I am looking forward to seeing where her ambition and abilities will take her.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
AEGEE-Köln and AEGEE-Aachen deserve a lot of praise for organising an outstanding event such as the Strategic Planning Meeting. It was a highlight of the year and made me fall in love with AEGEE even more. Secondly AEGEE-Eindhoven deserves a shut-out for their extremely ambitious and meticulously delivered Summer University, on top of great smaller events they have organised through the year. I would mention my own local here, but in an effort not to sound too biased and unobjective, I will mention the same local I mentioned last year but for an entirely different reason. AEGEE-Kraków, not for any particular event or project they have done, but for being a silent, and hardworking local, full of potential and brilliant ideas. Especially for staying so active and healthy even after organising an Agora last year.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Without a doubt the projects My Europe My Say and Y Vote have been amazing and helped locals and AEGEEans to educate themselves and have their voice heard. I also cannot skip the incredible SMASH project, which has reached its end for now, but has had a lasting and massive impact on the culture and organisation of events in the whole network.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
Biggest threat will probably continue to be the shrinking network and resulting the lack of experienced and motivated new members, who are willing to take a European level position. Unfortunately, so many key positions stay vacant and unused for too long. Biggest opportunity is the start of new Focus Areas for the period from 2020 to 2023. This means there are new challenges and lots of new ways to brand and sell AEGEE, both to sponsors and to potential new members. And I am more than excited to see how it will play out in the coming year.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
It is to be determined still, but for now I am looking forward to enjoying some brief time off after finishing MedCom. However, new opportunities and challenges await. Mostly in terms of being a Subcommissioner of the NetCom and joining the Equal Rights Working Group.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
Probably having a quiet night at home with some friends or family. Nothing spectacular or super crazy, saving that for later.

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