Verona is back on the AEGEE map! A few weeks ago, a new AEGEE contact was founded in the Northern Italian city – three years, after the Agora deleted the old AEGEE-Verona due to lack of members and activities. Originally AEGEE-Verona was founded in 1993 by Antonella Arvadi. The Golden Times spoke both with her and with Maria Anishchenkova, founding member of the new AEGEE contact in 2013. Today you can find out about the new generation, in a few days you can read in Antonella’s interview how AEGEE-Verona started 20 years ago.

AEGEE-Verona Maria2
Maria Anishchenkova

Golden Times: When and how did you hear about AEGEE for the first time?
Maria Anishchenkova: A couple of months ago I got a general email from Larisa Smajlagic, a person I did not know by that time. The email said that volunteers were searched for to re-open an AEGEE contact in Verona. I liked the idea and decided to contribute my time to it. I believe this can be a great experience both for our students and the university on its way to getting global.

Golden Times: How many members does your AEGEE contact have?
Maria: Currently we have about 10 members, most of them are active persons who contribute day to day to the founding and development of our antenna. However we are sure that this number will increase once we become stronger and spread a better word of our organization and its activities.

Golden Times: A lot of AEGEE members reacted positively on Facebook when your new contact was announced. How does that make you feel?
Maria: It’s a great feeling. It is also very inspiring to know that there are people around who don’t personally know us but already support our initiative. We were not expecting such a reaction, but it unities us in many ways and definitely makes us stronger.

The Ponte Pietra is one of the landmarks of Verona.

Golden Times: Do you already know a lot of AEGEE members? With whom are you in close contact?
Maria: We are constantly supported by the antennae of Brescia, Udine and Padua. I would personally like to thank Claudio Armandi, Michele Minuti, Francesca Russo, Anna Armellini and Alberto Gimenez de Nardi for their time and efforts in instructing us.

Golden Times: When do you plan to sign the contract between new AEGEE branches and AEGEE-Europe, the Convention d’Adhesion?
Maria: We plan to do that either in the Autumn or Spring Agora. Probably Spring Agora in Patra will work better for us as we will have more time to organize and prepare things.

The new AEGEE contact has already ten members.

Golden Times: Did you already hear about the Convention d’Adhesion song already?
Maria: I personally have not yet heard about the song, but it sounds exciting and I love singing!

Golden Times: How is the support of your university for AEGEE?
Maria: At the moment we have received the approval of our rector and this is already a good start. We count on receiving help and support from the office of International Relations, I know they are already interested in this initiative. Also the offices of the Right to Study (Diritto allo Studio) and ESU might provide us with office areas and some financial support. Our University is pretty much open to such things, which is a great advantage.

Golden Times: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How old are you, what do you study or work, what kind of hobbies do you have beside AEGEE?
Maria: I am 25. Originally from Minsk, Belarus. I moved to Verona four years ago with the scope of getting a second MA. I study international trade and love foreign languages, thus, I work as a self-employed translator and interpreter. Pretty predictable job, isn’t it? I adore traveling and meeting new people, love to invest my time to something that I believe can change this world for the best and this idea embraces all the activities I undertake.

The famous amphitheatre of Verona

Golden Times: You are originally from Minsk, studied in Minsk, Richmond/USA and Verona. When you compare, where was the teaching the best?
Maria: I enrolled Minsk State Linguistic University in 2005, and I studied languages for PR. Unfortunately, in Minsk we did not have exchange programs with other universities, which is why for a long time I used to underestimate my Belarusian academic experience. Things changed a lot when I enrolled the University of Verona. This was the place I realized how strong my Belarusian education was. I felt pretty confident in most of the classes which were held in English or Italian even though I had never been in any English speaking country and my Italian seemed to be a very bookish one. Verona is one of those universities which points a lot to internationalization. There are many exchange programs such as World Wide Study, Erasmus, Erasmus Placement and short educative trips organized by ESU. In 2011 I had a chance to win a scholarship to the University of Richmond – one of the greatest experiences of my life, to say the least.

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Giulia Recoaro, active member of the new contact

Golden Times: What about the student life in the three universities – which one did you like best?
Maria: I believe that it’s all up to you to make your student life work. It’s up to you to decide how you are going to use the chances and situations life grants you. So there is neither worst place nor best place to study.

Golden Times: You are also founder of another organisation: Global Belarusian Leaders (GBL). What want to achieve with it?
Maria: Indeed, I am a co-founder of GBL, a network of professionals dedicated or affiliated to Belarus. It’s a non-governmental, non-political organization built on the principle of social capital and mutual trust. GBL will work to increase Belarusian competitiveness in the international arena by establishing voluntary professional cooperation among experts in different fields. Our aim is to gather outstanding Belarusians wherever they might be and connect them with those people who aren’t indifferent to our country.

Verona balcony
The balcony of Romeo’s Juliet

Golden Times: And do you have time for both, AEGEE and GBL?
Maria: Both AEGEE and GBL do require a lot of time, but if you do something you believe in and like, time becomes the least thing you think of. Moreover, such organizations are always based on team work and I can personally assure you that both AEGEE and GBL are equipped with great team players.

Golden Times: What’s the next event where we can meet you or your other members?
Maria: We are now discussing the opportunity of participation in Agora of Zaragoza. Two members of our team shall be sent as observers. We yet have to decide who these two people will be. Anyway, expect to see us any time now!