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 Batuhan Çarıkçı, Sergey Peshkov, Ayala de Groot, Christian Seuling, Fotis Nousis and Paola Bortoletto said.

Batuhan Çarıkçı, Comité Directeur, AEGEE-İzmir, AEGEE-İstanbul

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Batuhan Çarıkçı: EPM İzmir 2019. The period from the second half of 2018 until the last day of EPM İzmir was one of the busiest and toughest periods of my life, being a part of the core team of Agora Istanbul and the main coordinator of EPM İzmir. As you can imagine, the end of that period was a huge relief and at the same time happiness for me. I feel proud of the work and the people I walked together with along the way.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
Autumn Agora Salerno 2019. First of all, it was my first Agora as a member of the Comité Directeur, so it was of course a whole new experience and dimension in case of Agorae for me. Secondly, I think the local organizers of the Agora did an amazing job despite all the last-minute difficulties and misfortunate. Organizing an Agora is not an easy job and it is not like it looks from outside, so I am really impressed to see the level of crisis-management and how they could overcome the difficulties all together under the huge stress and pressure.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Monika Mojak: the amount of effort she puts in AEGEE for years makes her one of the most outstanding members of AEGEE already, but no doubt, this year deserves a special attention for her outstandingness! Second, Melis Kılıç – her story goes back to Agora Istanbul actually. I remember clearly, even though she was a participant only, she was still working together with the Incoming Team to help them to overcome the crowd of the arrival day. Later, she performed her tasks very well as the Incoming Responsible of EPM İzmir. And now she is in the AEGEE Academy and Youth Development Working Group, as well as actively volunteering in the civil society in Turkey. I am simply proud of her! And Veysel Koca – I nominate him as “local founder of the year”. As a former AEGEE-İzmir member who was actually not living in İzmir – now he does though – he took a great initiative and worked very hard to found an AEGEE local in Isparta together with an amazing group of friends. But he should improve his skills in football a bit more. [laughing]
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
This – is – AEGEE-Isparta! After signing the Convention d’Adhesion in Agora Bucureşti, they organised their very first European event last week. When I was there for the NWM, I was really impressed how they could recruit that many active members and create a local culture in such a short period. They definitely deserve this title even though they didn’t exist in the first couple of months of 2019.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
I think the Youth Development Working Group did a great job last year, since they also had a very strong team. As a project, it is really hard to pick one since I believe all of them were really strong and outstanding in 2019!
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
No doubt, mobility barriers. This became a hot topic especially this year, but it still has a potential to become hotter in 2020. Creative solutions that will come up to prevent this threat will be very beneficial for the image “a place for everyone” from a different perspective.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Enjoying the storm until setting sail for new horizons!
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I will be travelling from the most western point to the most eastern point of Turkey this year and I expect to be exactly in the middle of Turkey in a night train during New Year’s eve.

 

Sergey Peshkov, ITC speaker, MyAEGEE developer, AEGEE-Voronezh, AEGEE-Moskva

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Sergey Peshkov: Well it would be a boring answer to mention Agorae here, but both of the Agorae were the most memorable events in this year for me. They both had some issues and the organisers managed them quite well.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
One of the most vivid memory for me was a statement by Eastern locals on travel costs, that for most of the Eastern locals it is really expensive to travel – both ticket-wise and visa-vise. It really united us all that night. The last morning plenary at Agora Bucuresti was also quite an interesting experience, and another one was the European night at Agora Salerno in the delegates’ camping.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Well, every member is outstanding of course. I will mention these people: my ITC dream team Oksana Prokopchenko, Fabrizio Bellicano, Maria Smirnova and other awesome people – and Agora Moscow core team, all of them.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
AEGEE-Moskva, of course. Do I really need to explain here?
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
First of all, it is my own committee, of course, the ITC. Also I really love the Visa Research Task Force, they did quite a big job on analysing visa issues that AEGEEans can face – and are facing right now.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
Two of them: ecological crisis and euro-scepticism – people don’t believing in the united Europe and things related.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
Work on MyAEGEE, be a part of the awesome team to organize the Agora in Moskva, probably go to some events as well.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I will go to my hometown Voronezh to spend a New Year with my friends and relatives. I haven’t seen them in a while.

 

Ayala de Groot, LGBT+ Interest Group Moderator, AEGEE-Leiden

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Ayala de Groot: For me it was being a delegate at Agora Salerno. It was my second Agora and my first time being delegate, so that was very special.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
Definitely Agora Bucuresti. It was my first Agora and I remember walking to the plenary location in the first morning, seeing all of the people that were there, and just thinking how we are all so different and come from different countries, but still are here because we all love the same thing.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
I want to say thank you to my co-moderator of the LGBT+ IG Zurita, because I love the work that we are doing, and thank Hanna as well for supporting us as CD. I am also very grateful to Alejandra and Elitsa for working with us in Leiden on the Europe on Track end conference and they have done amazing work in the past as well.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
Super cheesy, but I want to give my own local, AEGEE-Leiden, a shout-out, for all the activities that we organize, and are going to organize and thank all the people that are working on those. I am also very happy that we are getting more and more people interested in and applying for European events and positions. Continuing with something that might be cheesy but definitely deserved, is saying a huge thank you to the two locals that organized an Agora this year, AEGEE-Bucuresti and AEGEE-Salerno; the Agorae that you organized were some of the highlights of my year.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
The SMASH project is something that I think is very important and has already accomplished a lot of amazing things within AEGEE. I am looking forward to seeing them accomplish even more.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
I don’t know if it is a threat necessarily but I am curious to see what the Brexit will mean for AEGEE, if that ends up happening. As far as opportunities, I think there are a lot of them.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I will continue to be active on local level and I want to become more active on European level, but I don’t know in what way specifically yet. I am also very excited to be a part of the organizing team of the Europe on Track 7 end conference and I am looking forward to seeing the end conference come to life!
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
Well, I have an exam on 3rd of January, so I will probably spend it studying, but of course I will also be watching the fireworks at midnight.

 

Christian Seuling, SUCT 2018/2019, AEGEE-Bamberg

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Christian Seuling: The Strategic Planning Meeting in Köln was amazing. It was inspiring seeing a bunch of motivated AEGEEans working incredibly productive in these days. It needs to be mentioned here also the good job by the Planning Team. Furthermore, Agora Salerno was a personal highlight. I have finished my term in SUCT here and we have accomplished our plans, goals and vision properly and successful in the end.
Which moments of AEGEE-Europe in general in 2019 do you remember most vividly or as outstanding?
I guess the end of Agora Bucuresti, we all know why. All terms of our vision and mission of our association came suddenly together in once. That was definitely outstanding for me.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
Carolina Alfano – main coordinator of Agora Salerno as representative of the organisers’ team of Agora Salerno. Carrying out an Agora facing these difficulties deserves becoming outstanding member of the year.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
AEGEE-Salerno. Best practice of crisis management I guess.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
We have one Agora in Russia, one in the Caucasus region. I think this is a big opportunity for AEGEE, opening its doors in these regions of Europe. A threat is definitely the decreasing number of locals and members. If no proper strategy and turnaround will be achieved then I think it will be too late in five years to manage a turnaround.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
To be honest, after I finished my term in SUCT I took a big step back. Job and life are pretty time-consuming currently. I am now living in Munich, maybe I will pass by sometimes. But you never know, we will see what will come.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I will be with friends during New Year’s eve in Prague. Chilled days, some party, sightseeing and enjoying holidays.

 

Fotis Nousis, President of the Audit Commission, AEGEE-Athina

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Fotis Nousis: Well, it is a difficult question to answer because 2019 had a lot of highlights in my AEGEE life. It was my first year as a board member in my local and we did a lot of things, such as a TSU after three years. We solved many problems with the law and tax offices, with bank accounts and actually we made a really good team and company while at the same time we doubled our members and generally we grew our local to the next level. So, that was really nice work for a board with no experience. In continue I was elected President of AEGEE-Athina for this year, but if I want to highlight a moment probably it would be my election during Agora Salerno as President of the Audit Commission.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
I believe there are many outstanding members and it is hard to choose one or some of them. Every day that passes I realize that inside AEGEE you can meet so many outstanding people. Since I have to choose one I will mention Marija Valentina Zuvic. She is so professional and I love her passion about AEGEE. She really helps my local every day and every moment that we need her.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
Each Antenna, which organises a statutory event such as an Agora has my respect. So I consider as outstanding AEGEE-Bucuresti and AEGEE-Salerno. Also AEGEE-Izmir about the EPM in February and because there I felt so nice. I love those guys and their vibe.
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
The Dive project by far. It started during last year but also worked in the first half of 2019. It was an amazing project about social inclusion where I learned a lot of things. We organized the training here in Athens and then I went to Cagliari for the TPM. A cooporation between AEGEE-Europe, ESN International, JEF Europe and some locals of them. I met many new people during this project and I got many good practices in order to deliver them to my local. Also this project gave other members of my local the opportunity to travel to other trainings and meetings. After that we organized four local events as a result of the project. It was an amazing and big opportunity for my local to get into the social inclusion and to get to know how we can implement that to our organization.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
For me the biggest threat is about the shrinking of the network. Let’s see the number of the locals and we can realize that AEGEE is down on the lowest level since 1996. That is really bad but I feel ambitious about the future of our organization. The new Strategic Plan is on the way and it is a chance for recruitment and to find new members, to involve a new generation. Also I want to add the threat about the European Bodies’ positions. We need a new plan how to motivate members to be inspired and more active on the European level. And guess what, there are not only threats but always there are opportunities to keep the balance. Erasmus+ will triple the amount of funds during the period 2021-2027. It is a chance for the network to work on big projects so we can get funds which we can invest in marketing tools, PR strategy and of course to give opportunities to our members to attend funded events. There are a lot of sponsored events in the market and everyone has the chance to go there and not to pay for an AEGEE event.
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
I have a lot of plans generally in my life and of course about AEGEE. Firstly, I want to make my local grow more, to recruit new and motivated members in order to give them the opportunity to evolve by acquiring soft skills. With a bigger and more motivated team we can really work on bigger events. We have already arranged some of them for the future and we are working also now to apply for three big grants. On the other side there is my work as President of the Audit commission. Since the financial reports are not an obligation for locals anymore and it is hard to collect them from the locals, I am thinking to focus more on education about finances and economics. I want to organize one or probably more events about financials and FR.
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
My father works in Germany and he returned to Athens for Christmas and New Year’s eve so I will spend that moments with my family, with my lovely parents and my lovely sister. Probably after the celebration I will go out for clubbing with my mates. Cheers and I wish a Happy New Year to every single member of AEGEE. YAMMAS AEGEEans!

 

Paola Bortoletto, junior trainer of The Academy, AEGEE-Udine

Golden Times: What was your personal AEGEE highlight in 2019?
Paola Bortoletto: 2019 was a great AEGEE year for me! I was Secretary of AEGEE-Udine, an organizer of our Summer University “Sex, Gender and the City”, I attended my first two Agoras and I was a participant in the TNT organized by AEGEE-Budapest. I also managed to take an SU break in Valencia, Castellò and Tarragona. But my personal highlight has to be becoming a junior trainer of the Academy: finally, my dream has come true.
Who was for you the outstanding member in 2019?
This is a really hard choice for me! I have to thank Novak Simin and Valentina Žuvić, our past and present Baldria Netcommies, who were great help and support during this year, both for me and AEGEE-Udine. We achieved everything that we wanted thanks to their passion, their hard work and their great encouragements. And for last, I might sound cliché, but AEGEE-Udine has some really cool members. I consider them as my family, and they are the reason why I am taking my first steps in the European level of AEGEE. I won’t say any specific names, but they all deserve a round of applause.
Which was for you the outstanding antenna in 2019?
After attending my first two Agoras, I have to say AEGEE-București and AEGEE-Salerno. Even as participants we could see the hard work, the effort and the commitment they put into their events. I am so thankful for everything they did and the great atmosphere they managed to create. They handled all the problems like real-life-superheroes. Now, I am looking forward to Agora Yerevan. I am pretty sure they will be able to exceed my expectations!
What was for you the outstanding European project, Working Group or Interest Group in 2019?
The SMASH project has to be my choice. It is such a brave decision to share awareness on the topic of sexual harassment while admitting that our association itself is not perfect. I hope that not only we will keep on spreading knowledge on sexual health, sexual positivity and consent but also, we will inspire others to join the conversation. There are many more steps that need to be done regarding sex education and I look forward to seeing how this project will develop in the future.
What is the biggest threat and biggest opportunity for AEGEE in 2020?
To have new Focus Areas means to create a new mindset. And what better way to start 2020 than from a blank page? I am pretty sure AEGEE will make the most out of this opportunity and will approach projects and events with a new and fresh spirit. This, perhaps, will solve AEGEE biggest threat: the decreasing number of AEGEE members. Things have been changing since I first joined AEGEE, almost five years ago, and they don’t look so promising anymore. How can people no longer realise what amazing opportunity AEGEE is?
What are your personal AEGEE plans for 2020?
To be the coolest trainer AEGEE has ever seen. Well, I guess this would be overly ambitious. But I will honestly put all my effort into developing as a trainer and, hopefully, into sharing my knowledge with others. I might have something already planned out… but it is better not to jinx it!
How and where will you spend New Year’s eve? 
I might not attend an AEGEE event, but the AEGEE spirit will be my New Year’s kiss! Me and my two best friends, the former president and treasurer of AEGEE-Udine, will be partying in the mountains of northern Italy. Snow, AEGEEans and Italian wine: could my 2020 starts in a better way?

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