In a couple of days, feom 5th to 7th June 2020, AEGEE’s first online Agora will take place. The Golden Times and the Silver Times interviewed Agora Chair Monika Mojak, asking her about the preparations for the statutory event. Monika: “We are creating something that will be remembered for a long time.”

Golden Times: Hi Monika! How is life? How did you spend the past months in the Coronacrisis?
Monika Mojak: It’s going fine. I tried to accommodate to the new reality. I spent a lot of time with the Agora preparations. I also signed up to some online courses, trying to improve my language skills, reading books, watching movies and doing all these things I normally don’t have time for. I have a pretty intense lifestyle and normally not much time for myself. It was a good time to slow down a bit.

GT: How are the preparations going for the online Agora?
Monika: It is going well. In the beginning it we had to figure out a lot of things, because it was a new experience for us and everyone in AEGEE. But after lots of discussions and meetings, we found our way! We hope the Agora will run smoothly and in accordance with all requirements! I am very positive and looking forward to this experience. We are creating something that will be remembered for a long time. It is a groundbreaking moment for AEGEE. We have been talking about online Agoras for a long time and now we have to face it!

GT: When you ran for Chair you expected this Agora to take place in Yerevan. Do you remember the moment when you heard it would be online instead? How did you feel about it?
Monika: Of course I was very excited for my first Agora as Chair, because I was thinking about it for my whole AEGEE life! I had been sitting behind the table as Juridical Commission member some time ago, but being Chair is a completely different experience. When we took the decision that the Agora will not be in Yerevan, I was wondering how the Agora will look like under these new conditions and if we can adapt well to the capacity of the online Agora. The Agora will surely be different because we cannot interact with each other in the same way, but nevertheless I am happy that this Agora will take place at all! And it is a great chance to learn something new. Of course, I am looking forward to the next Agora as well, to sit behind the table with my team, to have all people around me, to have these few intense days to live through!

Silver Times: How will you do it technically?
Monika: For plenaries and prytania we will use a webinar platform, thanks to the help of AEGEE’s honorary member Philipp von Klitzing. He is always supporting AEGEE’s Agora preparations and is also supporting us in IT matters. He is a very helpful person!

GT: How many people can follow the Agora online?
Monika: Everyone can follow the Agora plenaries online via livestreaming on Discord, although only delegates and envoys can be participants and use the webinar platform.


3.5 years ago: Monika in the Juridical Commission during Agora Chisinau.

GT: The Agora is shorter, right?
Monika: Yes, the Agora starts on Friday afternoon and will end on Sunday at noon.

GT: How do people present their candidatures?
Monika: The candidates were asked to make videos that were uploaded, we shared the link together with all other documents. Now the question line for delegates and envoys is open and after the deadline to submit the questions we will collect them and pass them to the candidates. They will have 24 hours to prepare their answers. During the plenaries they will have three minutes to present the answers live and the delegates can restate unanswered questions. There will not be on-the-spot presentations. This new election format was aimed at saving us as much time as possible during the Agora.

ST: Will you use the web-based question-line system that was introduced last year?
Monika: Yes! I personally really like this solution. In Agora Salerno it worked really well. Of course, it still needs some improvements, but it is a really good system that can speed up the Agora and make question lines more structured.

GT: Who is going to take the minutes, by the way?
Monika: We have Tommy, our Secretary. We will sent out an open call for assistants and selected Franjo Popovic from AEGEE-Zagreb and Julian van Loo from AEGEE-Delft as secretary assistants. Moreover, we will have two general assistants helping us with the moderation of online platforms and all on the post tasks: Svenja van der Tol from AEGEE-Delft and Niek Lange from AEGEE-Eindhoven. Most of the Agora will be managed in a normal way, making it as regular as possible, of course with all necessary adaptations to make it smooth and online-friendly.

GT: Will you have coffee breaks?
Monika: Yes, we will have a couple of coffee breaks on Friday and Saturday, although I didn’t appoint anyone from my household to make or bring me coffee, so probably I will need to run to the kitchen by myself. [laughing]

Monika supervising an antenna twinning during Agora Kraków 2018

GT: Maybe you should get some personal sponsors for the coffee break and then put some banners with the company names behind you, just like at the legendary Polish Network Meetings.
Monika: Oh, I miss those Network Meetings so much!

GT: Are you still following what‘s going on in your network area?
Monika: Unfortunately not so much. I do know that they had online activities in the past couple of months. I am keeping contact with my own antenna, AEGEE-Warszawa, join their local activities, give workshops and advise them sometimes. Maybe I should check more what is going on in the Wild East when I have more time after the Agora.

GT: Do you like the name of the network area?
Monika: I don’t really remember the discussion and the alternatives, but I think it is quite cool!

GT: You are in Lublin now, right?
Monika: Yes, when the Coronacrisis started I decided to go to my mom’s place, because it is more comfortable to stay in this house, I have more space here. I can go outside, and it is safer than being in my apartment in Warszawa. When you have to stay in the flat in the big city all the time, it is tougher. It is easier here in Lublin to have some freedom. Also, my both sisters decided to move back home until the situation comes back to normal, so it is fun to live together again.

GT: You have only two sisters, no brothers?
Monika: No, unfortunately not. When I was little, I was trying to encourage my parents, but they were not interested. [laughing]

GT: In which city are you going to be during the Agora?
Monika: I was planning to be in Warsaw, but in the end, I decided to stay in Lublin a bit longer.

Monika with her fellow Juridical Commision members at Agora Enschede 2017

GT: So you are not sitting in the plenary hall right now?
Monika: The plenary hall will be a surprise, let’s keep it like this for the Agora!

GT: Are you going to have an AEGEE-Europe flag behind you during the plenary?
Monika: Unfortunately I don’t have it here with me, but I can always put an AEGEE-Warszawa flag on the wall!

GT: What about social programme?
Monika: There is no Agora without social programme, so we worked on that too. There were some great initiatives of the network and different European bodies: there will be a Eurovision night, AEGEE Quiz and an online party on Friday, an LGBTI+ hangout, a cocktail party and a European Night on Saturday, and an online music festival on Sunday afternoon.

GT: Will you make a sightseeing tour for us in Lublin?
Monika: Why not? I could ask my friends for help. But let’s not forget that we are more people in the team: there is Veva in Slovakia, Tommy in France, but also our job shadowers Teddy and Angelique in the Netherlands and Germany, plus now we have the team of assistants – Franjo, Julian, Svenja and Niek. So we can have multiple city tours in different European countries…

GT: How is the Chair Team actually going to work together during the Agora? You cannot meet all in your flat…
Monika: No, unfortunately travelling is still not possible by the time of the Agora. We will have to communicate online, just like the Chair team is doing during most of the year. Therefore, this should not be a problem, also since I am very happy with my team. We all work well together and have no issues at all. I have absolute trust in my team.

GT: How will you and your vice-chair Veva split up the work? Will you divide the chairing of different sessions?
Monika: Yes, we will divide all tasks equally. Veva will chair, I will chair. In this respect this Agora won’t be that much different from other Agoras. Also our job shadowers will have the chance to chair some prytania.

ST: How will the autumn Agora in Moscow be?
Monika: We have been in touch with the organisers. I am very happy to work with this local, since they have a very enthusiastic Agora team with amazing ideas. They are working very hard for it during these tough times! I can’t wait to cooperate with them in the next months. I just hope that the Coronavirus or anything else is not destroying our plans for Agora Moscow.

GT: How many Agoras have you visited so far?
Monika: Ten or eleven, I should count. My first Agora was Spring Agora Patra in 2014.

GT: A local that doesn‘t exist anymore.
Monika: Yes, sadly.

GT: Were you a good Agora participant, always on time and sitting in the plenary – or did you prefer the parties?
Monika: I love parties, but I also love the content of the Agora. In the past years I was very much involved in the European level, so I could not skip any session and attended all plenaries. But even before, when I was visitor or delegate, I tried to be present for the whole programme, but I also found the time to visit the city and attend parties. The key is to find the right balance in order to enjoy the Agora to the fullest.

Monika with her Vice-Chair during the upcoming Agora Europe 2020 – picture taken at Agora Bucuresti in 2019

GT: Which was your favourite Agora?
Monika: That is a difficult question, because every Agora is so different. All of them were cool and I had a great time. But I would say that my favourite Agora was Agora Patra – it was my first one, a new experience, everything was so intense. I did not understand everything yet, so I tried to learn as much as possible and to meet many people.

GT: Do you have a gavel for the Agora?
Monika: Not yet.

GT: Why did you decide to run for Chair in first place? You are constantly under observation all won’t have much free time…
Monika: I really enjoyed my experience in the Juridical Commission, because I could see how the work behind the Chair table looks like. I was thinking what to do afterwards – so I was thinking: Chair or Vice Chair would be a good experience! I was planning to run for Chair at Agora Istanbul in 2018, but in the meantime my plans changed and I ran for CD instead. So I postponed the plan by one year.

ST: Let’s change the topic: is there still a place in Europe you would like to visit?
Monika: I would love to go to Russia, since I have never been there. This is one of the reasons why I am looking forward to Agora Moscow. I would also love to see Cyprus and Spain!

GT: Finally a few quick questions: What do you prefer – Belgium or Italy?
Monika: That is difficult. I spent two years in Belgium and had a great time there. This time brought me friends for life. On the other hand, I love Italy. This country is amazing and I love it – it is my favourite European country. It is the country I visited most often.

GT: Second question: Secretary General or Chair?
Monika: Oh, you cannot really compare these tasks – maybe you can ask me after the Agora.

GT: The last question – water or vodka?
Monika: Vodka, obviously!

ST: Will you stay in Poland or do you consider moving to another country?
Monika: I am the kind of person that cannot stay in country for a long time, so it might be possible that I move somewhere else. After all, we have this chance to live in different countries and learn about different cultures. However, at the moment I plan to stay in Poland for a while.

ST: How much longer do you plan to stay to stay an AEGEE member?
Monika: It is not so easy to cut off ties with AEGEE, it will require some time. I cannot say, I don’t have a specific plan. It depends also on the opportunities. If there is still something I can contribute to in AEGEE I will continue and give back something to this association.

GT: Is the rumour true that you would like to organize an Agora in Warsaw before you quit the association?
Monika: Never say never! I really enjoy working on the Agorae, so why not trying another Agora challenge! But it is not my only decision, I would discuss it with AEGEE-Warszawa. At the moment I cannot tell you whether we will apply or not.