The AEGEE Review 2019 continues with a special NetCom edition. Kutay Kaya, Margarita Semchenko, Roberto Meneghetti, Valentina Žuvić, Fabian Dennenmoser and Lila Quaile give us their take on 2019. Best event? Best antenna? Outstanding member? Read their answers and find out!

Kutay Kaya, Network Commission Speaker, AEGEE-Eskişehir

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Kutay Kaya: I really enjoy what I am doing in the Netcom and have as well as had an amazing team. Agora Bucureşti was a big moment for me; I presented my candidature to be part of this commission. However, I have to say that my highlight was the time I get elected as the Speaker of the Network Commission. I always consider joining Netcom as one of the best decisions I ever did so it was really a special moment for me.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
I have to say my dear boss Oksana Prokopchenko. She is an amazing person in general and also to work with, really dedicated to her work and doing her best all the time. I think everyone who has worked with her can agree on that – and in case you haven’t done yet hope you will have the chance. Luckily, I can work with her closely. Again, big thanks to her for everything!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
This is the hardest question for me. This may sound classical, but I really value all the locals that work voluntarily to somehow take our organization to the next level, do something impactful and inspire others. An antenna with a special place in my heart is AEGEE-Isparta. They signed the contract only in Agora Bucureşti and hopefully will become an Antenna during Agora Yerevan. Although they are quite a new local they have organized an amazing NWM and in general are doing their best to improve their local in all aspects. They have a lot from the spirit I just mentioned!
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
The Smash Project for being really successful and impactful. It has a great importance for our organization and hopefully will inspire other organizations as well.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
I think the biggest opportunity will be the new Focus Areas! I am quite excited about them as I was also participating in SPM Köln, but in general, I believe they are quite interesting for everyone and we can really create amazing things out of them. As a threat, I would say not using this opportunity properly and leave the network without taking its benefits.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Honestly speaking I don’t have precise plans at the moment. I am focusing on the responsibilities I currently have. It is for sure that I will be around, take part and do my best for this organization but I just don’t know yet where or how it would be. I guess we will see this in time.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
I will be in Cologne with some friends, celebrating the end of the decade.

 

Margarita Semchenko, Network Commissioner, AEGEE-Bamberg, AEGEE-Moskva, AEGEE-Voronezh

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Margarita Semchenko: I think AEGEE really was generally a huge point in my life in 2019. I have maybe not one, but two things I want to mention: joining Netcom in Agora Bucuresti and joining the Core Team of Agora Moskva were my personal highlights. Now that I work with my two beautiful teams I cannot imagine doing anything else. And I cannot wait to continue in 2020.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
For me, the most outstanding person was our network mommy Oksana Prokopchenko for always having time for us as a team and personally whenever we needed anything. She works harder than anyone I have seen before and it has been my pleasure to work with her during this year and in the upcoming months. And my special appreciation goes to the amazing Polina Khapaeva for pushing and helping me to reach new goals, for being a great Netcommie and motivating me to become one as well. My enormously big hugs and love to both of them!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
For me, it is the amazing AEGEE-Moskva, which just recently celebrated its birthday and is now in full speed of development and organisation of their Agora. I appreciate their hard work and am happy to be their member and Netcommie! I also want to name two amazing German antennae: AEGEE-Passau for organising a beautiful NWM and cooperating super smoothly with the Netcom and AEGEE-Bamberg for making me finally feel like home in this AEGEE world; after almost four years in AEGEE I understand what local level actually means – they welcomed me there with warmth and kindness.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
I think SMASH was the project of the year not only for me but many others. I am very happy that sexual harassment is much actively and openly discussed without having a typical one-sided view. I wish for this project to continue by bringing more awareness to the network.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
To survive without burning out with Netcom work and Agora Moskva it is my biggest challenge so far! However, I am ready to take it and my plan is to show the network that visa may seem like a wall or a barrier, but with the right key and code you can easily open a door. I am more than happy to guide hundreds of people through all procedures and hope they will be able to follow and listen carefully – please! In the end, the borders will not break themselves and we can all be a part of that moment.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
Hopefully not in the hospital! “NWM Passau – Leave your Footprint” left me with a huge footprint and multiple broken bones – which didn’t stop me from actively walking for the first two days without realising how serious it was. So now I am waiting for the verdict of my doctor on 30th and hopefully then can enjoy Bodensee and New Year celebrations in the south of Germany.

 

Roberto Meneghetti, Network Commissioner, AEGEE-Torino

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Roberto Meneghetti: For sure being elected as Netcommie after a very busy and demanding year!
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
For sure all the brand-new thematic events, conferences and programmes that allowed AEGEEans to travel reimbursed to discuss the topics they really cared about! My Europe My Say has truly been a blessing. Also the reforms that are undergoing in AEGEE: with the old antenna criteria scrapped, the new NetCom system, the new Focus Areas, we really are undergoing a revolution! Finally, I want to mention the demonstrations of solidarity during the Agorae for a better and fuller freedom of movement: everybody deserves to be part of this family without barriers to stop them.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Oksi as a Network Director is doing a flawless job and she is even working from remote, so what is more outstanding than that, I don’t know! I also want to mention Leonardo Manganelli for his super nice work with Y Vote, PRC, Europe on Track, you name it. I also want to mention Hicham Zahri as the Agora revelation!
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
I know I am biased, but I think AEGEE-Torino, after organizing three events at once: YEAH, Y Vote and Europe on Track. The antenna was on the brink of collapsing and was then rising again from the ashes, so it deserves a special mention. Also, I would mention AEGEE-Salerno for the huge effort they put into the Agora and are still kicking. Last but not least AEGEE-Moskva for their dedication in pursuing not only the Transsiberian Dream, but also a much bigger dream…
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
Europe on Track!
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
The biggest threat is that AEGEE may not adapt to the radical changes that Europe and the world are facing, so be careful, lads! The biggest opportunity is that with the thematic side that AEGEE is going for, we reach young Europeans outside of the association and make a greater impact!
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Rocking my NetCom mandate until July and then… who knows? Maybe AEGEE Academy once for all?
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
In my region, away from the big city, in company of AEGEEans and other friends.

 

Valentina Žuvić, Network Commissioner, a little AEGEE helper here and there, AEGEE-Zagreb

Valentina Žuvić. Photo by Margarita Semchenko.

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Valentina Žuvić: My personal AEGEE highlight in 2019, apart from being elected as NetCommie at Agora Bucureşti, was the NetCom Trip which lasted for around four weeks and ended up with ‘’NWM Athina 2019: Athend it!’’. After it, I went to Brussels to attend the ‘’My Europe My Say’’ final conference, as well as the final event of SMASH. It was such an exhausting trip, but it was worth it, because I visited nine locals. They showed me their cities and cultures, but also I had a lot of inspiring times – thank you all, guys! During the trip I held several workshops, one out of them was: ‘’Social Inclusion in Locals: People with disabilities (with special focus on Hard of Hearing and Deaf people)’’. I am so proud of this workshop, which was created together with Franjo Lovro Popović. Because of this trip it got improved a lot!
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
I would say the announcement of the new Focus Areas during the Autumn Agora Salerno. I realized then that I will be the part of it for sure in the next years.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
There are a lot of people whom I would like to mention because they are all outstanding for me, but I will mention these three – all others, you know who you are and I really appreciate what you are doing for AEGEE! First, Elitsa Hadzhieva, because of her dedicated work to Y Vote and her immense help to the Network Commission with NWMs and RTCs. Second, Maya Tielemann, she was one of the main culprits for the Strategic Planning Meeting Köln and an outstanding NetCommie, who improved our work a lot. And the icing on the cake: Oksana Prokopchenko. I like to call her “Mama Oksi”, because of her never-ending love and support for the whole network. She is one of the most hard-working people I have ever met. Also, she was the one of the first AEGEEans who made me feel truly included into the European level which I couldn’t imagine before. I would say that I cannot be more thankful for her.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
For me, every antenna is outstanding in its own unique way and is giving its best. But if I need to choose, then I will say these three: AEGEE-Niš, because they have become open to AEGEE-Europe and active on European level more than before. AEGEE-Thessaloniki, because they organized the successful European event ‘’Youth in Progress: Skill Up Now’’ where the participants could learn how to prepare for the job market and learn new soft skills with which they can develop themselves. Last, but not least important, AEGEE-Zagreb. I am sorry, I need to be biased a little bit with my local, but I am just proud of my members who worked really hard during this year and organized a lot of workshops, local activities, exchanges and two successful European events: a sailing event and a Summer University which was ranked as second best.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
For me, SMASH and Y Vote were the outstanding European projects in 2019 because of their big impact on society, especially on young people in the whole Europe and raising the awareness of how they can make changes in their attitudes and how their attitude can change the whole world. Also, I would like to mention the Society and Environment Interest Group too, because of their hard work during 2019 and their success to establish the Sustainability Committee.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
The biggest threat are non-active and demotivated members who do not show interest in what AEGEE is doing. So in the end everything is in the hands of already overwhelmed members who are active not only on the local level, but on the European too. But I see the biggest opportunity in the new projects and Focus Areas of AEGEE-Europe where everyone can find the way how to develop themselves and give their best, but also improve AEGEE at the same time.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I have a lot of plans for 2020, mostly regarding the improvement of AEGEE-Zagreb and its projects, but I think I will have some surprises. Stay tuned!
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
I really don’t know. Maybe it is time to finally spend it at my home with my family, but my heart just wants to travel more, so probably I will run away to another city or country and wait for the New Year at some unexpected place. We will see!

 

Fabian Dennenmoser, Network Commissioner, AEGEE Bamberg

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Fabian Dennenmoser: My personal AEGEE highlight of 2019 just started a few weeks ago when I became Network Commissioner. Moreover, TNT Budapest and joining the AEGEE Academy was one of my highlights this year as well, Now I am looking forward to working on all these projects in the upcoming year.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Oksana Prokopchenko for her great work and support for our network and our Netcom Team. Even with her big workload, she is always helpful and warm-hearted.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
I think many locals did a great job, for example organizing an Agora under difficult circumstances – like AEGEE-Bucuresti and AEGEE-Salerno – or thematic projects. I also want to mention AEGEE-Isparta, which became just a Contact at the beginning of the year and already organized successfully an NWM in December.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
I think the SMASH project was a full success and Y Vote organized important conventions in such a challenging time for Europe.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
With our new Focus Areas, we have selected very interesting and current topics. They will create a lot of opportunities for new thematic projects and face the criticism of having less thematic content. Furthermore, the Agora in Moscow will be an important sign to Europe where people from Western and Eastern Europe stand together.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I want to continue what I have just started to work on as a Network Commissioner and to contribute to the best development of our network.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
I will celebrate with my girlfriend and my friends together in Ravensburg, my hometown in Germany.

 

Lila Quaile, Network Commissioner, AEGEE-Paris

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Lila Quaile: My personal highlight was my election as Network Commissioner at Agora Bucuresti.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
One of the most amazing and outstanding antennae is AEGEE-Angers. They managed to become an antenna just one year after signing the Convention d’Adhésion, they are organising many and different types of local events. So, for all of that I would like to congratulate them. Another one is definitely AEGEE-Salerno, despite all the troubles they encountered during the Agora, they succeeded in organising a really great event!
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
As I was coordinator of the ECWG, I am going to say the ECWG. [laughing]
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
The biggest opportunity for AEGEE are its locals. Without them the association cannot survive and sustain. We need to have more sustainable locals of high quality. And that’s what we, as Network Commission, are here for: to help all locals to develop themselves and become stronger, more sustainable and viable.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I will continue working within the Network Commission, keep my work with AEGEE-Paris as well and then I don’t know, I will see, depending on the opportunities.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve?
Well, since AEGEE-Paris is organising a New Year’s event I will spend mine with the lovely participants we will have and my beloved AEGEE-Paris.

 

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