Oksana Prokopchenko, founder of AEGEE-Sheffield, is running as Network Commissioner at Agora Kraków. The antenna president is really motivated to bring the locals in the UK closer and closer to AEGEE-Europe in order to establish a better cooperation, to strengthen the locals in that area and the ones nearby, giving them all the tools to shine as they deserve to.

Lisa Gregis: Why do you think you are the best person in this organization to join the NetCom?
Oksana Prokopchenko: I believe that all the people who candidated for this position are worthy of it, at the very least because they showed their high motivation to take on such responsibility, as well as to devote their time, effort and expertise to help other locals. From my side, I want to say that I have a clear understanding of the commitment that NetCom takes, and a very firm belief that locals can do the impossible things when they are supported.

How would you deal with AEGEE’s lack of focus on the UK area?
I think that the situation is slightly changing, and you can tell that by how all three locals got a chance to shine – organising a thematic conference, an SU, LTCs, growing and finding ways to deal with the UK reality. It is the perfect moment for AEGEE to strive in the country, where young people finally realise what it is to be European and what they might lose soon. However, it cannot only go from bottom, I believe there definitely should be support coming from AEGEE-Europe too. One example of that was Loes, the President of AEGEE-Europe, coming to London in February and spending time with us going to talk with national NGOs and brainstorming ideas for further development. It really makes a lot of difference. Although I do feel like there is still need for someone pushing in this direction. In case I get elected as a NetCommie, it would be one of my priorities, for which I’m ready to fight if needed.

How do you plan to help experienced and strong locals?
As in 2013 I had a chance to be a board member of AEGEE-Kyiv – a very active and strong local – I have an understanding of how such locals work, and what are the potential issues they might face. As a few examples, I would assist boards in elaborating long-term strategies for antenna development, motivate the active members to go to European level, encourage collaborations and new projects, support in their initiatives. However, each antenna is unique. So each of them, no matter if experienced or new, needs a personal approach.

How do you imagine could be a day in the life of a Network Commissioner?
What about a night, most productive of all? (Oksana smiles) On a serious note, I think that one never stops being a NetCommie, whether it’s a working day, a weekend or evening out with friends. If you are really passionate about your work and about the locals you’re helping, you can have brilliant ideas and important talks any time at all.

The number of Network Meetings organized has dropped during the last year, what do you plan to do with your assigned locals? Would you be available to organize a NWM together with another Netcommie, in his or her area of locals?
It largely depends on the locas that I’m assigned to. Knowing the situations in all of them, it will be clear if it makes sense to organise two NWMs only in my area, or does it make sense to do it together with another NetCommie. Of course, in that case I would be willing to cooperate and I think it could be a great platform for exchanging ideas and bringing locals from different areas closer.

Since the number of locals in UK is not enough for a netcommies, which locals do you want to take together with UK and how do you plan to work with them?
Personally, according to my experience in the network, I think my knowledge could be useful for the locals in France and Belgium, as well as antennae in Nordic countries. It seems to me that the issues that these locals are dealing with are quite similar to the ones I was experiencing in my local. However, I am happy to work with any locals that are assigned to me, and in any case it would take personal contact and research from my side about the reality the locals live in and issues they deal with.

Describe what locals are to you and how do you imagine your relationship with them.
Each local to me is a unique group of people, with their own values, traditions and ways of doing things. Personally, I’d love to be that kind of “mommy”, taking care of each local, getting to know them on a personal level and helping in any aspect. However, I also believe it’s important to talk to them first, to understand what do they expect from a NetCommie and what kind of relationship would work for them best. After all, it’s not about me, but about locals.

From your experience do you think that the actual criteria are useful and accessible for locals? What would you change?
From my experience from dealing with antenna criteria in AEGEE-Sheffield, from becoming a Contact to getting upgraded to Antenna hopefully at Agora Kraków, I think the antenna criteria are indeed not very easy and accessible. We see that all the time, locals struggling and wasting too much time with too much bureaucracy and obscure reasons for some criteria. However, I think that for changing something one should have appropriate background knowledge and larger experience with more locals. As a Netcommie, though, I would want to make the process of fulfilling criteria as comfortable as possible for locals, through some visualisations and explanations, so that it’s more clear for locals, what they are fulfilling and for which reasons.

On which project would you like to work on as a Network Commissioner?
I would be interested in working on the NetCom Review project, if it continues after Agora Kraków. Moreover, being a part of AEGEE Review task force, it seems to me that potentially there might be points of contact for NetCom as well.

What is your vision of AEGEE in five years?
More flexible, open and inclusive, inspiring and motivating. I remember some time ago telling new members in AEGEE-Kyiv that AEGEE is a perfect playground for any idea they want to implement, that here they can do anything and be anyone, try new things, get new skills and change the world in the meantime. I would like AEGEE to be exactly that place in five years.

Questions from the Network

Question one: Many candidates, especially those for CD, mentioned in their program that they want to bring the thematic part of the association closer to the locals, but yet you didn’t mention in yours anything related to that. What are your plans to do push local a bit to organise local activities related tothe Action Agenda and the Strategic Plan?
I believe the best events and initiatives are the ones that come directly from people. That’s why I would start by asking locals about what they would genuinely like to organise, what kind of ideas inspire them and what kind of events they want to work on. Then, I would match those ideas with the Action Agenda and Strategic Plan, as they reflect a wide range of topics, many of which for sure inspire our members all across the network.

Question Three: What do you think about the antenna criteria proposal proposed by CD?
I like the idea of having more flexibility for locals in general. However, the proposal seems like quite a radical change to me, so I would like to hear more during the prytanium about what kind of research and background supports these particular changes.

Written by Lisa Gregis, AEGEE-Bergamo

You can read Oksana’s full candidature here.