What kind of hobbies do the freshly elected CD members have? How did they actually join AEGEE? And are they party animals? The Golden Times asked the new European Board of AEGEE, which will start their term in Brussels in August, questions about their personal life – and got many surprising answers. Read in this third part about Holger Schmitt. The former AEGEE-Berlin President and Network Commissioner was elected with excellent 85,4% of all votes at spring Agora Patra.

Meet the new CD
Meet the CD 2014/15

Golden Times: Congratulations for your election! How nervous were you during the Agora?
Holger Schmitt: I was especially nervous before the Agora started – at home and in Athens one day before. During the Agora I was way too busy with meetings and discussions mainly related to the Network Commission that I didn’t really have time to get nervous. On stage I mostly enjoyed giving my presentation and sharing all the things I had in mind.

Golden Times: After the election, was there any congratulation, which made you more happy than others?
Holger: I was really overwhelmed with all the congratulations and I appreciated each and everyone individually, but I am really thankful for the wishes and support from the Netcom Team and from the representatives of my locals from the German-speaking area that made me really happy

If you lucky, you can enjoy Holger’s Kaesespaetzle

Golden Times: In most CDs, the CD members cooked for each other. Are you a good cook? What’s your specialty?
Holger: Haha, I would say I am an average cook. My specialties mostly involve pasta with cheese in several variations, for example the German “käsespätzle”, dark pasta with emmental sauce and so on. I also like to make quiche lorraine, chili con carne, couscous salad and bolognese sauces.

Golden Times: The CD is a lot about teamwork. What was the best AEGEE team you were in – and what was your role?
Holger: One of the best experiences for sure was my first Summer University as co-coordinator of SU 2006 Bamberg-Passau “Bend it like Bavarians” during the World Cup 2006. Not only the atmosphere in the whole country was awesome, also the work and coordination within our organizing team was just relaxed, enthusiastic and yet responsible. We met almost every week, it was a perfect team, where I could rely on the coordinator for good guidance to feel free to implement everything we organized and be close with the participants. We did have a lot of fun organizing this SU together. Another great experience was the SU 2012 “Cross-Border-Crime” as Coordinator for the Berlin part. Even though we were only five organizers the mutual understanding and the willingness to contribute in the team was great. We almost understood each other blindly and had a good time acting as people involved in a big crime that eventually had to be solved by the participants at the end of the SU.

Holger Schmitt Bamberg 2007
Holger started his AEGEE time in Bamberg

Golden Times: How did you join AEGEE? Is there any interesting story behind?
Holger: The story is pretty simple and also pretty common. During my first days of university I was wandering the halls thinking that I want to do something political and international, so when suddenly some AEGEE members were recruiting while talking about Erasmus, travelling and doing great projects I was almost instantly hooked and joined AEGEE the second day of my studies.

Golden Times: If you were not in AEGEE, how would your life look like?
Holger: I would have only very few friends abroad, I wouldn’t have travelled and seen all those places I saw in the last years and I probably would sit behind a desk all day doing a boring office job. At this point I can’t imagine my life without AEGEE, it would seem pretty empty from my side.

Holger Schmitt Citizens of Europe
Holger is also member of the NGO Citizens of Europe

Golden Times: Are you also member of other associations? If yes, what kind of?
Holger: Actually I am member of JEF/European Movement, of Citizens of Europe, a Berlin-based European NGO doing similar projects and I am still a member of CJA/CAJ, doing youth work with children and youngsters in summer camps and civic activities for the society in my home town.

Golden Times: You travel a lot. Do you actually take the time to look at the city during AEGEE events?
Holger: Usually I always try to see the beauties of the cities I visit. Though in the last time I was quite involved in the AEGEE world and didn’t always manage to find the time to see the sights. In the future as CD member I am aware that I will not really have the possibility to sightsee, but since I have already seen quite many places in Europe that won’t bother me that much.

Holger Schmitt Y Vote Valladolid
The Y Vote convention in Valladolid in September 2013 played a big role in Holger’s decision to join the European level

Golden Times: Which experience or moment did make you decide to join the European level?
Holger: The most important project that made me aware and that got me involved for sure was Y Vote 2014. After attending the Y Vote convention in Valladolid in September 2013 and finishing my term as President of AEGEE Berlin I figured that this project is exactly what I believe in and where I wanted to get involved. At Agora Zaragoza I suddenly became Network Commissioner which catapulted me right to the European level which I started to enjoy more and more. After several months I realized I would like to contribute more and be even more involved.

Golden Times: To how many events have you been so far?
Holger: It is quite hard to count, including Agoras, Summer Universities, conferences and exchanges it’s up to around 35.

Golden Times: How many of them did you organise yourself?
Holger: I organized six Summer Universities, two conferences, I was involved in the organization of seven exchanges and organized one Network Meeting.

Holger Schmitt Bran
Holger attended many SUs, including one in Romania – here you see him in the Dracula castle in Bran (still without beard)

Golden Times: Have you been to an SU as participant?
Holger: Yes, I was lucky to attend three Summer Universities: in 2006 SU Bolu “A break on the silk way” in Istanbul, Bolu and Cinarcik, in 2009 SU Bucuresti and Sibiu “There is something fishy about Romania” and in 2013 SU Kharkyiv-Kyiv-Lviv “Hogwarts Express”. All three of them have been really unique experiences; SUs definitely are the best way to travel and discover another culture and make many new friends.

Golden Times: Are you a party animal?
Holger: If I manage to find the time and the right people I am a total party animal!

Golden Times: Do you dance a lot during AEGEE parties? Or do you rather have conversations?
Holger: I usually want to dance during AEGEE parties and enjoy the great atmosphere at intercultural parties, but of course I also like to have discussions at some point – usually after some dances and some drinks…

Agopat343 Holger Schmitt candidating - Olivier Genkin
Holger candidating at Agora Patra. Picure by Olivier Genkin

Golden Times: After AEGEE, what will you work later?
Holger: I want to stay involved in European topics, but also within administration and politics. So at this point my focus is to work for a local administration, doing business development and city marketing involving acquisition of national and regional funds.

Golden Times: What would you like to change about AEGEE, if you could?
Holger: I would like AEGEEans to be more involved in all kinds of stakeholder meetings, conferences and events, present AEGEE and speak up for the European youth. We had some great progress in the European Youth Forum and with the Structured Dialogue, but I believe we can be even more involved and more active.

Golden Times: What makes you most stressed and nervous?
Holger: I am getting most stressed and nervous, when I am not sure if things I organized or coordinated work out and there doesn’t seem to be a solution ahead. Luckily by getting this nervous, I am always doing everything possible to fix the situation as soon as possible and usually everything works out fine.

Holger Schmitt Berlin2
Holger was also President of AEGEE-Berlin

Golden Times: And how do you calm down in these situations?
Holger: I am trying to fix it as soon as I can usually. If everything goes wrong and I need to relax I go biking or playing guitar and at times return to my beloved Sitcoms “Scrubs”, “Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family”.

Golden Times: How important is for you career in life?
Holger: Honestly, if we talk about my professional career, I don´t see the total necessity to only focus on that. My whole life it has been important for me to be active, involved and do something I believe in, mostly for children, youth and intercultural exchange. At this point in my life I’d rather be active in a NGO than to only do things that will contribute to my career or CV.

Golden Times: What hobbies do you have aside from AEGEE?
Holger: I like biking, playing guitar, volleyball, history.

Holger is a great fan of the TV sitcom Scrubs

Golden Times: What was the last book you read?
Holger: Even though I know it quite well I re-read Ken Folletts “Pillar of the Earth”, which is a great depiction of medieval England and a great book to learn and understand about the architecture of cathedrals.

Golden Times: What’s your favourite movie or TV show?
Holger: That’s quite a long list including Chasing Amy, Garden State, Kingdom of Heaven, as well as all Quentin Tarantino movies and most blockbusters; similar things with series, I love Scrubs, Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.

Golden Times: What kind of sports do you practice or like?
Holger: I used to play football and I played some volleyball, but I am not practicing sports regularly right now, just biking in Berlin.

Golden Times: What’s your favourite drink?
Holger: Non-alcoholic: I love Club Mate, Banana shakes and fruit juices. Alcoholic: Soplica Orzech Laskowy, rum-based cocktails and as a good Bavarian of course beer in all variations.

Golden Times: What are you most afraid of?
Holger: To die without having achieved something meaningful in my life.

Never missing in Holger’s fridge: milk!

Golden Times: Please complete the sentence: “AEGEE is…
Holger: …a great network of young spirited Europeans who are fueled with the idea of a unified, borderless Europe and this way create the modern European society we need.”

Golden Times: What’s never missing in your fridge?
Holger: Cheese and milk, I always like to say I could be a vegetarian and live without meat, but life without cheese, milk and dairy products is really not worth living.

Golden Times: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
Holger: Idealistic, Enthusiastic, Loyal, Pragmatic, Altruistic.