Desireé Van Lan­gen from AEGEE-Ams­ter­dam is already a mem­ber of the Youth Devel­op­ment Work­ing Group (YDWG). At the Ago­ra in Kraków she wants to run for the posi­tion of Coor­di­na­tor of the YDWG. Among her plans is more col­lab­o­ra­tion with the oth­er Work­ing Groups, the AEGEE-Acad­e­my and oth­er Euro­pean bod­ies — and she express­es her opin­ion about the locals’ aware­ness of the Focus Areas.

Mat­teo Lai: Please intro­duce your­self.
Desireé Van Lan­gen: Five years ago I dis­cov­ered AEGEE-Ams­ter­dam “by acci­dent” and I am real­ly involved ever since. I have a Bach­e­lor in Health and Life Sci­ence and the upcom­ing year I will do my mas­ter. Next to my stud­ies I became first­ly active on the local lev­el in AEGEE-Ams­ter­dam and two years lat­er, in 2015/16, I worked full time as Sec­re­tary. Cur­rent­ly I am a proud mem­ber of the Youth Devel­op­ment Work­ing Group and besides that I am a Sub­com­mie of Maria Zwartkruis, Junior AEGEE Acad­e­my train­er and I just fin­ished my term as advisory/supervisory board in AEGEE-Ams­ter­dam. I have been active on both the local and Euro­pean Lev­el and I like to trav­el, meet new peo­ple and learn new things. (Desireé smiles)

What do you think it is the main job of Youth Devel­op­ment Work­ing Group Coor­di­na­tor?
In my opin­ion a coor­di­na­tor has sev­er­al respon­si­bil­i­ties but the main task would be to man­age the team. This includes send­ing the open call for Youth Devel­op­ment Work­ing Group mem­bers and a Pol­i­cy Offi­cer, fol­lowed by select­ing a good team. After the select­ing pro­ce­dure we — as a team togeth­er — should decide on a task divi­sion and our goals. Dur­ing our term, I will work close­ly togeth­er with the CD appoint­ed per­son, I will keep the overview as a coor­di­na­tor regard­ing our progress, pro­vide help and feed­back and I will make sure that every­one feels free to share his or her opin­ions and ideas. Last but not least I will do my best moti­vat­ing the team!

What do you think is the most impor­tant qual­i­ty to be Youth Devel­op­ment Work­ing Group Coor­di­na­tor and why do you see your­self as the per­fect per­son to ful­fill the posi­tion?
In my opin­ion the most impor­tant qual­i­ty as a coor­di­na­tor is being a team work­er in order to be able to keep an overview, moti­vate and work. I am the right per­son for this func­tion because I real­ly enjoy work­ing togeth­er in a team, I have expe­ri­ence in coor­di­nat­ing a team, I am open for feed­back and will­ing to learn and improve myself.

How would you imple­ment the Action Agen­da objec­tives?
The Action Agen­da objec­tives were draft­ed dur­ing the EPM in Yere­van. When draft­ing the objec­tives, the sub­groups already wrote down the mean­ing of the objec­tive togeth­er with some exam­ples and ideas. Togeth­er with the rest of the Work­ing Group we will make our Activ­i­ty Plan in order to be able to ful­fill the Action Agen­da objec­tives. Because of this, it is  in my opin­ion not total­ly pos­si­ble to answer this ques­tion as I do not decide on this myself. How­ev­er, I think it is real­ly impor­tant to com­mu­ni­cate our objec­tives and our plans towards the Net­work. This can be done by con­tin­u­ing the cur­rent Face­book page, the newslet­ter and e-mails. We need the help of the Net­work in order to be able to ful­fill the Action Agen­da of course!

How would you imple­ment the draft­ing of the pol­i­cy paper?
The Pol­i­cy Paper will be vot­ed upon dur­ing Ago­ra Krakow. After­wards, if it gets accept­ed, the cur­rent Work­ing Group will already start with the imple­men­ta­tion. I would like to give the next Pol­i­cy Offi­cer the free­dom to come up with a plan on how to imple­ment the Pol­i­cy Paper. With­in AEGEE I would per­son­al­ly like to see the results com­mu­ni­cat­ed towards all mem­bers. This can be done by using visu­als for exam­ple — and via dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels. Fur­ther­more I would like to dis­cuss the results and needs of the net­work with the involved bod­ies such as Net­com, HRC and Acad­e­my. Exter­nal­ly we can present our Pol­i­cy paper towards oth­er youth organ­i­sa­tions, oth­er NGOs and key peo­ple in the pol­i­cy mak­ing process.

Can you tell us some­thing in advance about the activ­i­ties you would make in coop­er­a­tion with oth­er Work­ing Groups, AEGEE-Acad­e­my and oth­er Euro­pean bod­ies?
First of all, I am a big fan of work­ing togeth­er with oth­er bod­ies. The activ­i­ties for the upcom­ing year are depend­ing on the Action Agen­da which first needs to be accept­ed dur­ing Ago­ra Kraków, fol­lowed by the selec­tion of the team and our own activ­i­ty plan. I per­son­al­ly would like to see a sec­ond edi­tion of the Work­ing Group Months in order to get more atten­tion for the Focus Areas. This will be done in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the oth­er Work­ing Groups. Besides this, we should also align our work. Oth­er poten­tial coop­er­a­tions would most­ly be togeth­er with AEGEE-Acad­e­my and Net­Com, but of course I am open to any oth­er coop­er­a­tion regard­ing Youth Devel­op­ment. It would be great if the AEGEE Acad­e­my and its train­ers can con­tribute to the mate­ri­als data­base, which is on one of the pro­posed objec­tives. The oth­er way around I would like to col­lab­o­rate on pro­mot­ing learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties inside and out­side AEGEE. Of course we will also coop­er­ate with the Net­Com because the con­tri­bu­tion of locals is impor­tant to achieve our objec­tives.

Accord­ing to you, why are locals not so aware about the Focus Areas in organ­is­ing their events?
In my opin­ion locals are aware of the exis­tence of the Focus Areas, but I guess that they think it is too bor­ing or dif­fi­cult to organ­ise some­thing relat­ed to a Focus Area or the Action Agen­da. This is not true of course! You, as a per­son or local, can orga­nize a lot of dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties and you can always con­tact us for help and ideas. Also check the guide­lines for our Youth Devel­op­ment Month for inspi­ra­tion. Of course we will keep pro­mot­ing our Focus Area and the oppor­tu­ni­ties for locals in the upcom­ing year via dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels to make them more aware of the exis­tence and pos­si­bil­i­ties of the Focus Area.

You men­tioned “exter­nal rep­re­sen­ta­tion” in your can­di­da­ture. What do you mean with this expres­sion and how would you get it?
This can include the imple­men­ta­tion of our Pol­i­cy Paper for exam­ple. Which means pre­sent­ing our results and advo­cat­ing for cer­tain actions which are described in the rec­om­men­da­tion part of the Pol­i­cy Paper. Exter­nal rep­re­sen­ta­tion can also include a Pol­i­cy Trip which has been orga­nized this year — see the inter­im activ­i­ty report of the Youth Devel­op­ment Work­ing Group for more infor­ma­tion — or by attend­ing a con­fer­ence or meet­ing on Youth Devel­op­ment or any­thing relat­ed to it. This can also be done after con­sul­ta­tion by the CD, oth­er Work­ing Group mem­bers or the Pol­i­cy Offi­cer.

How much time would you ded­i­cate to your Euro­pean posi­tion? Would the fact that you are active also in the local lev­el being an obsta­cle?
I will invest as much time as is need­ed. I fin­ished my term as a mem­ber of the Advi­so­ry board of AEGEE-Ams­ter­dam and I will quit my func­tion as main orga­niz­er of our Event com­mit­tee if I am elect­ed. I already dis­cussed this with­in my local. I will — if I am elect­ed — pri­or­i­tize being a coor­di­na­tor above any oth­er func­tion or task so being active on local lev­el will be reduced and not an obsta­cle at all.

Question from the Network

Ques­tion one: Would you still join the Work­ing Group even if you won’t be elect­ed?
I am not sure yet if I will join the Work­ing Group again as a mem­ber if I am not elect­ed as the coor­di­na­tor. For sure I like being a Work­ing Group mem­ber and I real­ly like Youth Devel­op­ment. How­ev­er, I like to chal­lenge myself and learn new things and there­fore I also applied for the posi­tion of coor­di­na­tor.

Ques­tion two: In every work­ing group there is a pol­i­cy offi­cer in charge of pos­si­bly draft­ing a pol­i­cy paper. Of course, you will have to dis­cuss the top­ic with the team but what are some areas that can be tack­led when decid­ing on the top­ic?
This year our Pol­i­cy Offi­cer already wrote a Pol­i­cy Paper and I real­ly don’t see the point of writ­ing a new one the upcom­ing year. I per­son­al­ly would like to see this Pol­i­cy Paper imple­ment­ed inter­nal­ly and exter­nal­ly - see my answer before for more expla­na­tion on the imple­men­ta­tion.

Writ­ten by Mat­teo Lai, AEGEE-Cagliari

You can read Desireé’s appli­ca­tion here