Polina Khapaeva from AEGEE-Sankt-Peterburg has been really active since she joined AEGEE in 2016, being president of her local for two years, member of the Youth Development Working Group and the AEGEE-Academy. Now she’s ready to take the next step – at Agora Kraków she runs for Network Commissioner.

Lisa Gregis: Why do you think you are the best person in this organization to join the NetCom?
Polina Khapaeva: I’m not the best person for sure, but I have a lot of motivation, some experience and big passion for AEGEE. And I will combine these all to be a good member of the NetCom.

Why do you think the NetCom would be the right next step in your AEGEE Career?
My AEGEE career – if I could call it like this – seems pretty logical for me: I became super-excited about AEGEE after my first SU and decided to be an organizer of our winter event. Then I started my first term as president, I organized an SU, I joined the Youth Development Working Group. Afterwards I ran for a second term as a president, I joined the AEGEE-Academy and now I feel that I’m ready for the next step. At every stage I had people who inspired me to go to the next level and now I want to inspire locals to do everything they can and even more.

Can you give us some examples of how would you implement the “dictatorship style” and the “democracy style” of management with locals that you mentioned in your programme?
I knew that I should’ve been more accurate with these words. (Polina laughs) I am always ready to listen to suggestions, ideas and understand the concrete situation which is happening. I want to implement this behavior into my work with the locals. And also I don’t want to be just a nominal NetCom only with boards knowing about my existence: I really want to know the members of the locals. This is part of my “democracy style”. And about “dictatorship”: I hope I don’t need to use it. Ok, maybe with monthly reports. (Polina smiles)

How do you imagine could be a day in the life of a Network Commissioner?
Should it be different from a day of not being a Network Comissioner? Just a lot of communication, reminders and fun as usual.

How would you plan to work with a team of people who might not share your views on almost everything?
I will try to find a compromise between a democracy and dictatorship style.

What would be your strategy to face the decreasing number of locals?
My aim is to focus on existing locals and not on founding new once. So I plan to work with locals on topics related to their survival and development such as Human Resources, Public Relations and activating members.

Describe what locals are to you and how do you imagine your relationship with them?
Locals for me are babies of different age, background and behaviour with their own views and goals. So the best is to find a personal key with everyone to build a close relationship.

What is your vision of AEGEE in five years?
To be a well-known organisation around Europe, focused on youth development and thematic projects where every person can find space for growth.

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 locals a bit to organise local activities related to the Action Agenda and Strategic Plan?
From my point of view this question is a little bit in advance. It’s like to ask a cook what dish he wants to make before he knows all the ingredients. There is a lot that I need to know about locals, what is relevant for them, which topics or which types of activities. And only after this phase there could be a concrete plan.

Question two: What do you think about the antenna criteria proposal proposed by CD?
I do not personally agree with registration of Contact Antennae before approval. About everything else: this is an interesting proposal and at the same time with this scheme AEGEE needs a really strong and wise NetCom and Network Director because there is a lot of power and responsibility. And ok, even if it doesn’t work and we’ll see in a year that there is a need for next changes, why not? Now we are not facing the best situation with locals’ development and definitely we need to change something. Antenna criteria are not the main tools in such changes but it’s one of the steps.

Written by Lisa Gregis, AEGEE-Bergamo

You can read Polina’s full candidature here.