The CD 2010-2011 - from left to right: Alfredo Sellitti, Alla Resheten, Mirosław Krzanik, Manos Valasis, Miroslava Ganzarcikova, Thomas Leszke, Anna Petrova and Michael Makowiecki.

For the two CD members Alla Resheten and Michael Makowiecki the end of their CD term meant also the beginning of working life. In the second double interview in the Golden Oldie with the members of the European board of AEGEE in the period 2010/11, Secretary General Alla and Communications Director Michael look back on their year in Brussels. Despite the fact that Alla is now a professional IT person and Michael tries to develop less harmful cigarettes, they are still involved in AEGEE: Alla runs the Eastern Partnership Project and Michael is still involved in various PR activities.


Golden Oldie: Where do you live right now?

Alla Resheten: Currently I’m living in Brussels, not far from the CD house.

Michael Makowiecki: Right now I am living in Hamburg, a very lively and beautiful city in the north of Germany – the place where I lived also before going to Brussels.


Golden Oldie: What are you studying or working now?

Alla: Since September I’m working for Data Security Company as Quality Assurance Engineer. So I can say that I came back to the IT world.

Michael: I am now working for Imperial Tobacco in the field of Product Innovation. That means that I am basically developing new cigarettes. The most exciting thing is actually that my current project is about making them actually less harmful, or how you would call it in a more professional way “cigarettes with reduced exposure”. However, I will not stay in Hamburg forever. As I am part of some particular International Graduate Programme, I will be moving to various places all over the world within the next four years. In Hamburg I will stay only one year.


Alla Resheten

Golden Oldie: What are you most proud of regarding your work in the CD?

Alla: What I can say for sure is that I do not regret anything I’ve done within my term. What should I be proud about? Most probably the creation of the Eastern Partnership project and then developing it according to one of the proposed Focus Areas. When it comes to the teamwork I think the biggest achievement of our CD is raising the networks’ interest towards the European level, increasing trust in CD work and also being close and accessible for the Network.

Michael: Obviously my biggest project and also biggest ambition during my term in the CD was to change the visual appearance of the association, make it more consistent and professional. I was and still am deeply convinced that this would be the right move to improve the quality of our work. Unfortunately the change did not happen. Still I have the feeling that now this topic started to appear in the members’ conscience. It is present and still often discussed. Often the big achievement is not a factual change, but a change in our mentality that will alter the work in the future – and in this way change the pathway that the association is following.


Golden Oldie: What was your best personal memory about your term in the CD?

Alla: I think all statutory events and especially the Autumn Agora Istanbul in 2010. There were quite some moments which I will remember for long: a lot of hard times which made us even stronger. And when it comes to personal memories I would remember for many years my Happy Birthday song from all Agora participants. It was amazing! Or it’s just because my birthday is close again and I’m a bit nostalgic…

Michael: It is really hard, well basically impossible to mention here just one personal memory about my term. The whole year was simply full of exciting, funny, extraordinary and sometimes just surreal moments. There were great parties in the house, for example the barbeque or the birthday party one year ago, or outside, or with nice guests. There were moments when we just helped each other when someone was in trouble or too much under pressure, there were these moments that everyone was freaking out during the meeting late at night, just to suddenly release the bad energy, laugh and start fooling around. How could I ever reduce this to one memory?


Golden Oldie: What was your worst experience of that year?

Alla: This is a hard question. There were quite many of such moments and if you had asked me within this year – I would have probably made you a list, but now I do remember only the good moments.

Michael: I think that the aspect that created quite some frustration is the fact that it is very difficult to reach people and to communicate something to them. All of us have spent a significant amount of effort just explaining the same things all over again. What is the cause of such behaviour? The lack of experience, a more casual approach or…? It happened to me that the same question during a prytanium or another session at a statutory event was asked twice – and I just kept answering it in the same way multiple times. Another very frustrating aspect of the work was the fact that I could pretty often witness that many people with voting rights at statutory events are in fact mainly protecting the interests of their own local. Of course this is a very understandable approach, but aren’t we criticising very often that for example in the European Union national interests are being put over the European ones? In fact we are doing the same.


Michael Makowiecki

Golden Oldie: CD means also intercultural experience. What habit, custom or attitude did you learn from others, what did they learn from you?

Alla (smiling): Oh, it’s so true about cultural experience! We had quite a mixed group with totally different approaches towards things. What have I learned? I think I’ve learnt how to enjoy spicy food as our boys really liked it. And of course I’ve improved my English thanks to Thomas, Michi and Manos – at least I’m using more articles now than before. What people learnt from me: I think it’s how to manage your time in order to do everything on time and also to have your free time only for you and close people and not only for work.

Michael: I think that all of us had already a lot of intercultural experience prior to our stay in Brussels. Still I have definitely witnessed how important food, coffee and family are for the Italians among us and that Slavic girls rather do not enjoy spicy food. But does it make sense to fall more into stereotypes and just list something that might be connected to some national background?


Golden Oldie: Talking about food: what was your favourite meal in the CD house? And who was the best cook?

Alla (smiling): It’s actually a hard question who was the best cook. I can say that the boys were cooking better than the girls. For example, Michi was the most creative cook, Alfredo was cooking amazing Italian food, Mirek also tried to cook something special for us, Manos was spending quite some time in the kitchen when he was at the cooking schedule, but the result was always great, and Thomas is cooking really cool spicy food and makes great barbeque.

Michael: Fortunately all of us had some decent knowledge of cooking. But more than just a proper way of preparing food, I have been enjoying the most seeing that someone is trying to put some effort into the meal, to prepare something creative and new. When Manos was cooking, we have been usually eating at almost midnight, but I know that he was usually looking for some new Greek recipe. Alfredo was usually pleasing us with nice Italian cuisine and also I liked Mirek for integrating more Asian tastes with certain amounts of sea food.


Golden Oldie: Who was the heart or good soul of the CD?

Alla: I think it’s a bit hard question to reply to. I would name three people: Manos for his support and willingness to help whenever it’s needed, Mirek for giving an example what it means to be professional and of course Alfredo, for working on making us a family and making me smile every day.

Michael: I think that everybody was trying to contribute to a good atmosphere in the house. Alfredo was trying to cheer someone up when in trouble, Manos was trying to talk about the problem and resolve it, Alla was acting as our mom and Mirka was always trying to organise some additional social programme and cultural activities.


Golden Oldie: Did the year in Brussels change you? If yes, in what way?

Alla: Of course! I became a totally different person. I’ve learned how to live in one house with seven totally different people, how to enjoy having guests whom you never met before, how to work with people which are working in different ways from yours. When I came to Kyiv after my term and met my friends, they told me that I became a calmer person, more willing to listen to others’ opinion and understand others.

Michael: Yes, definitely. I have learned a lot. It is even hard to describe in what way it has changed me, but for sure I have learned how to organise myself, how to handle a big amount of emails, run several projects in the same time and to approach something with a full dedication. Personally I started to be a little more down-to-earth and pragmatic than I used to be before that experience.


Golden Oldie: How hard was it to adjust to “normal” life?

Alla: Quite easy. And when I miss my CD term – I’m going to visit the new CD, as it’s just five minutes walking from my place.

Michael: Actually it was not very difficult. The first two weeks back in Hamburg were a bit difficult for me, as I was missing my old crazy and intensive life. But then the transition went just naturally.


Golden Oldie: Are you still involved in AEGEE? In what way?

Alla: Ohhh… yes! Currently I’m working almost with all teams I was working during my term.

I’m doing Chair Job Shadower for Agora Skopje and really enjoying working with my favorite Chair team. I’ve joined Events Committee 2 weeks ago in order to continue my work on improving quality of our events and few months ago I’ve also joined AEGEE-Academy as a trainer. And of course I could not leave my project so I’m also a Project Manager of the Eastern Partnership Project, which is taking all my  free time for now.

Michael: Yes, I am pretty involved in the activities of the PR Committee and also working for new online magazine “The AEGEEan”. Furthermore I am helping out here in AEGEE-Hamburg.


Golden Oldie: When will you retire from AEGEE and join Les Anciens?

Alla (smiles): I think not so soon, It seems AEGEE still needs me.

Michael: For now I am not planning to officially retire and join Les Anciens.


Golden Oldie: Will you come to the Agoras in Skopje and Enschede?

Alla: To Skopje for sure – in case I will not have any problems with my Macedonian visa, of course. I’m waiting for this Agora for two reasons: to present my Activity Report for the year of being Secretary General, and to come back to the place where I’ve had my first AEGEE event and where I was motivated to be active in AEGEE. When it comes to the Agora Enschede – I will try to come, as it seems many of my friends will run for important positions and I want to support them.

Michael: Skopje for sure and Enschede most probably as well.


Golden Oldie: If you could give your CD team a grade from 1 (very bad) to 10 (excellent) what would that be?

Alla: I’m a quite critical person but on the other hand I like when people appreciate the work you are doing. So if to give a mark from inside – I would put 9 as there is always room for improvement. But I would love to see our Network giving us 10!

Michael: I think that I cannot rate it just like that. It would reduce this experience to a number and kill all the little and big aspects of it. So I will simply not rate it, but I can say that it was one of the best decisions of my life to run for a position in the Comité Directeur.


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