Daniël Amesz is one of the three candidates for the highest office in the association – President of AEGEE-Europe. The AEGEE-Leiden member has been active on the European level for several years already, but let’s look at some more personal aspects. Did you know that Daniël has a passion for music? This and much more you will find in this article.

Golden Times: Where would you be now if you hadn’t joined AEGEE?
Daniël Amesz: Good grief, what a question! AEGEE has been a huge chunk of my life the past six years, imagining it without it is very hard. Quite likely I would have joined a different student association, as I was looking for something extra to do besides my studies. I don’t think any other association would have been able to challenge me this much and for this long though, so I would probably be spending a lot more time on my thesis.

GT: How did you join AEGEE exactly? How did you find out about it?
Daniël: In Leiden there are roughly 40 student associations to choose from, so picking AEGEE was not very straightforward. In the end it was a combination of factors including my interest in an international perspective and the fact that a friend of mine, who had just joined AEGEE, convinced me to go an introduction activity. By chance this activity was about explaining the possibilities of the European level of AEGEE and I was hooked! I signed up that evening.

GT: What’s the typical drink and food you bring to European Nights?
Daniël: It’s a no-brainer really. Everybody loves “stroopwafels”. It doesn’t matter how many packs you bring, they are always finished or stolen for later consumption by the end of the evening. The drink has seen a bit more trial and error, in general Dutch young gin isn’t touched, so that’s a bad idea, but Gold Strike is reasonably popular in the network. The cinnamon liquor with small gold flakes is therefore my usual suspect.

Daniel Amesz playing bass guitar at the event “AEGEE’s Got Talent”

GT: At an AEGEE party where will we find you? On the dancefloor? Talking at the bar?
Daniël: I tend to move around a lot! As my friends can tell you, I quite enjoy dancing and therefore can surely be found on the floor, if the music is right. However, the last couple of years parties during Agora have been a bit different for me. I often didn’t make it to the location as I had MedCom meetings until late at night. Alternatively, I would be at the party as a Safe Person, keeping an eye on things and being available for anyone to approach me. Both are things I have done or still do with pleasure as well though.

GT: What was your first position in the local board?
Daniël: In the Netherlands the first position is usually also the last, as you only take one term of a year in your local board. This happens primarily because being in the board costs you around 35 hours a week, so it’s a full time job! And sadly unpaid [laughing] My position was that of “Internal Affairs Officer”. This meant I was responsible for the human resources of our committees, some big local projects, but mainly just making sure that all 300 members were feeling at home in the local and were as active as possible.

GT: What was your favourite event as organiser – and why is it your favourite?
Daniël: I hate picking one favourite, as I can never choose. The one I select here though is the Night of the Seven Antennae in 2015, this anniversary project was an extremely interesting combination of local and European as it was one event taking place in seven cities at the exact same time! Through fundraising and a cooperation with the Association of friends of Franck Biancheri – AAFB – we had a bigger budget than usual, which allowed for cool extras like a champagne brunch on the last day.

GT: What was your first Agora and how did you feel there? Happy, excited, overwhelmed, lost?
Daniël: My first Agora was Agora Cagliari 2014 and it is still one of my favourite events. It was most certainly overwhelming, but I was lucky to have gone with more experienced people from my local, who could explain things to me when I didn’t understand. That’s why I am a big fan of the Agora Mentorship Programme, to give everyone a chance to enjoy their first statutory event without being completely lost.

MedCom team at Agora Kraków

GT: Have you ever hitchhiked to an AEGEE event?
Daniël: I did not hitchhike to events, but I have joined multiple hitchhiking events organised by AEGEE-Leiden. When I need to go to an event I usually want to be there as long as my tight schedule allows, so I pick an option that is guaranteed to be fast. However, during the weekend competitions, the hitchhiking is the event itself. I have had many adventures on route to Strasbourg, Brussels and Lille.

GT: What’s your favourite hitchhiking story?
Daniël (laughing): The best story is probably the one where I didn’t arrive at the destination! The full story is quite long, so you can ask me about it if you don’t know what else to do for twenty minutes. A small snippet from that journey is a particular fond memory though: I was heading South and got a bit stuck in Belgium. Around Gent we were picked up by a lovely young professional, who was transporting some hardware in her car from one office to another. She took us along to Brussels, but when she dropped us off at a gas station close to where she had to be, she said she had enjoyed the chatting so much and was so done with working that she’d drive back to the gas station after delivering the package and take the rest of the day off to take us further along if we hadn’t managed to get another ride. As she promised, she was back shortly after and took us all the way to Luxembourg!

GT: Do you like cooking and what’s your favourite dish you like to cook?
Daniël: Yes! Cooking is a hobby of mine and I enjoy making a variety of different things. The recipe I enjoyed most – both to make and to eat afterwards – must have been arancini though. Big shout out to the great people of AEGEE-Catania for teaching me how to do it!

GT: What’s never missing in your fridge?
Daniël: Cheese!

GT: What do your parents think about the idea that you are so active in AEGEE and want to live in Brussels?
Daniël: I am very, very lucky to have amazing and supporting parents. They already got used to me travelling around the continent and they are always happy to hear my stories afterwards. Of course, they had to take a bit of breath when I told them I wanted to run, but Brussels isn’t that far away and they were actually very curious to see the CD house!

GT: What other hobbies do you have aside from AEGEE?
Daniël: As I said before, I love to cook, but my biggest passion is probably music. I can’t go a day without at least listening to some tunes and am currently blasting some Queen while writing these answers. I am also making music myself as I play the harp, piano and bass guitar. As some people might have noticed, I have also taken my ukelele to me to some events and given some ukelele workshops during Network Meetings to inspire others to pick up an instrument.

GT: Did you consider joining a political party or maybe want to do it later?
Daniël: I am not against the idea, but so far there is no political party that I affiliate with enough to want to become a member there.

GT: What do you study – and why?
Daniël: I am currently finishing a Masters in Public Management as a specialisation of Public Administration. I chose this because I am very interested in how people work most efficiently and happily. The balance of those two are very important for any organisation, but it is hard to achieve. For me, the public sector was more attractive than the private, as there are far more factors and elements to take into account in regards to policy and aims than just money. Before this I have done a Bachelors in History as the study provides both a great contextual knowledge as the ability to quickly process huge amounts of information and see the connections.

GT: What’s your dream job?
Daniël (laughing): At the moment it’s President of AEGEE-Europe of course. However, after AEGEE there are many challenges I would like to take and see how much I like it. For example, I would like to become a strategic policy adviser in a ministry.

GT: What’s the favourite city or place on this planet you ever visited?
Daniël: There are many different categories that are at play for this question, so I’ll just name a few. The most breathtaking nature I ever saw was in Bryce National Park, Utah, USA. My current favourite city is Tbilisi as it has a mixture of cultures in its style and a feel that I really like. Eventually, I must say I always love to come home to my cute canal-filled city of Leiden.

GT: And where would you really like to go?
Daniël: The to-do list is still much larger than the have-done list in terms of places to visit. Currently I think Ukraine is among the top of the list. I have had plans to visit the country many times already, but always something came up that made it not work out. I hope to finally right that wrong next year, regardless of what I will be doing.

GT: What’s your biggest frustration in AEGEE?
Daniël: I get sad when there is confusion and misunderstanding in the network about sharing cultural elements on the one hand and nationalism on the other hand. Although I fully support the idea of a borderless Europe, to me the things we must remove first and foremost in society are prejudice and intolerance. To me, you don’t do that by trying to make everyone the same or focus only things you already share, but by fully expressing the differences and seeing the beauty of it. I think one of the most valuable things that AEGEE has taught me are crazy amount of differences between people. Differences within locals, within cities, within countries and within the continent as a whole. I have learnt so much about it and enjoyed every minute of it. I hope we don’t lose track of what makes each city and each country unique in our aim to unite under a common identity.

GT: Please complete the sentence: “AEGEE is for me…”
Daniël: For me, AEGEE is a diverse family with endless possibilities.

GT: How would you describe yourself in a few keywords?  
Daniël: Enthusiastic, talkative, eager and caring.