Golden Oldie: When and where were you born?

Eddy Francot; Roermond, The Netherlands, 7 May 1980

Golden Oldie: Where and what did you study?

Eddy Francot; Applied Physics, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. I started and moved to Delft in 1998

Golden Oldie: When did you join AEGEE?

Eddy Francot; Early 2001. The first two study years I had spent, besides studying, with competitional rowing and building an electrical guitar in an atelier. However, I was not really satisfied and went looking for something I could really be involved in and something with a more social aspect. At the same time I had doubts about my studies for a lack of international orientation as well as human and business aspects in the development of technology. I was looking for something new.

Golden Oldie: Who introduced you?

Eddy Francot; A friend, who was an AEGEE member, introduced me to AEGEE-Delft and I visited their weekly social meetings once or twice. I got to know a few very nice people including the president, Saad. Some time later AEGEE-Delft was campaigning for new members. Saad and I decided to combine business with pleasure and I happily let him buy my membership with a few drinks – a clear win-win situation. A few weeks later, when I had planned to visit my parents but the Dutch railways went on strike, I decided to check AEGEE’s events calendar. That weekend AEGEE-Utrecht organised a ‘Quo Vadis, Europe’ year plan event. I managed a beyond-last-minute participation and made it there hitching and by bus. That less-than-an-hour trip took about 4 hours – you can imagine what international travellers went through. Despite the logistic problems it was a great event. Interesting lectures were combined with great parties. And I much enjoyed the international company. That was when I decided to become active in AEGEE.

Golden Oldie: Are you still member?

Eddy Francot; No, not anymore. I quit when I started to work.

Golden Oldie: You are best known for being board member of AEGEE-Delft. How did you end up doing that?

Eddy Francot; The literal answer would be that I was kidnapped from my room, blindfolded, abducted to Delft’s only remaining city gate. There I was forced to drink ‘jonge klare’ and eat raw pickled herring. I cannot stress enough how much I detest the latter. Only when I had managed to flush the herring down with the jenever I was asked to join the board. Later I took on the role of treasurer and fund-raiser. The real reason was that I had shown enthusiasm in organising some smaller and bigger events and local activities in the previous year, and taken responsibility. Most notably I think in the ‘Bicycle Experience’, an Agora Amsterdam post-event, and in a monthly excursion committee for international students. The board saw that and found me a good candidate.

Golden Oldie: What where the biggest challenges and rewards of these tasks?

Eddy Francot; There were two big challenges. A personal challenge was that AEGEE did not combine well with applied physics. Progress went down as I invested more and more time and energy in AEGEE. And mostly people could not understand why I had chosen AEGEE because it had little exposure. The second big challenge was to increase AEGEE’s exposure in Delft and make more people interested. At the time, the most rewarding aspect of AEGEE was to see how the participants enjoyed an activity or event that – at least partially – was the result of my effort. Nowadays, the gained experience is the most rewarding as some things are still useful. To work in big projects is much like work in committees.

Golden Oldie: Did people appreciate the work?

Eddy Francot; I think that members generally have appreciated the work of our board. We increased the number of active and non-active members and AEGEE-Delft’s exposure at our university and in Europe. We improved our office, had several enthusiastic committees and organised several events and many small activities. I must say we also owed a lot to the previous board on whose achievements we could build.

Golden Oldie: Tell us a funny story of your AEGEE time.

Eddy Francot; At the time of the Amsterdam Agora 2002 and our post-event, the Bicycle Experience, the hug coupons had become widely distributed through the AEGEE network and much used. One member in our committee thought we should have something better in our event. So he designed a kissing competition that would be held during the whole event, 24 hours per day. The game included two important rules stating that organisers were excluded from participation and kisses were only valid if you were not caught by somebody else. It was a fantastic game and very funny to watch. Everyone had to be on his or her guard at all times and during all activities. You could watch participants sneak up on their targets and move in for the kill. In the end I got involved in the game after all. At the end of the event, though we never intended to have a prize, suddenly the other organisers declared I was to be the prize. That was a very awkward situation. But everything turned out very well and we had many laughs about it for a long time.

Golden Oldie: What was your favorite AEGEE event?

Eddy Francot; I find it difficult to choose between two events: my first long train journey to the first Agora in Constanta, or an exchange to St. Petersburg that I initiated and that also involved the antennae of Palermo and Odessa. Besides these organised events, there is one personal trip that I have very good memories of. I visited newly made friends in Warsaw and Rzeszów where I had the honour to participate in a traditional Polish Christmas dinner with the family. We also went skiing for a day. It was my first time, so it was more falling and sliding down than anything else. Subsequently I went to Budapest to celebrate the New Year. There I met with the organisers of my Debrecen-Eger summer university of that year which is also in the top of my favourites. I stayed at Gunnar Erth’s place, with some other new people I got to know. After the New Year I took the train back home and got my first Euros in Vienna, immediately facilitating the trip.

Golden Oldie: What were your best moments in AEGEE?

Eddy Francot; A very memorable moment was when I shook hands with Mikhail Gorbachev. He had given a lecture at the University of Groningen. Afterwards I positioned myself in the middle of his cleared exit route. When he came, security tried to push Gorbachev to the exit and me out of the way. But I stood firm and Gorbachev reached out to me. We shook hands and he said a few things in Russian; I only recognized ‘thank you’. Then I gave him my AEGEE tie – the golden one that AEGEE-Delft produced.

Golden Oldie: And your worst moments?

Eddy Francot; My worst moment was when I lay down the management of the St. Petersburg exchange. The team was well organised and I wanted to step down a bit, only advising on critical issues. I was refocusing on my studies and there were other activities that I ended without serious issues. However, here I had not adequately transferred my responsibilities. I thought I had, but later one project team member made it clear to me that they were disappointed in me and it had felt as if I had abandoned them without a word. Ouch! It was quite an effort to mend it.

Golden Oldie: Which AEGEE member impressed you a lot?

Eddy Francot; Niels Vegter, AEGEE-Delft, for his patience, tact and humour at all times.

Megi Chudzik, AEGEE-Rzeszow, for her cheerfulness, spirit and drive from even before she joined AEGEE.

Golden Oldie: Any things you regret that you haven’t done them in AEGEE?

Eddy Francot; I regret I never ran for a position in the CD. I chose to finish my studies, largely to be able to get a job and improve my financial situation sooner. It might have been the wisest choice then, but perhaps it also might have been the easiest one. I feel I did not consider all options to fund a year in Brussels.

Golden Oldie: Did AEGEE influence your career decision?

Eddy Francot; Likely. I cannot say it literally influenced a certain decision at a moment in time. But AEGEE added to my interests, skills, experience and way of looking at things. Thus, in a soft way it certainly influenced my career.

Golden Oldie: How would your life be if you hadn’t known AEGEE?

Eddy Francot; I would not have known my girlfriend and likely live in another city with another job.

Golden Oldie: What are you doing now as main occupation?

Eddy Francot; I work in the energy sector as a business case manager in asset development project teams. We try to make our power production portfolio as efficient and green as possible without compromising security of supply. It is my task to ensure that this is done in the most economic way.

Golden Oldie: Are you single/married/married with 5 children?

Eddy Francot; Neither, I am cohabiting with my partner. By the way, this makes me think of a stand-up comedy show we attended in Las Vegas two years ago. The comedian unexpectedly asked us whether we were dating or married. He then gave us a hard time when we could not answer straight away.

Golden Oldie: Which languages do you speak?

Eddy Francot; Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish, in order of ability.

Golden Oldie: Where do you live now? What do you like and dislike about your city?

Eddy Francot; I live in Amsterdam, and what I think about it depends on my mood and why I out on the streets. All those little, narrow streets usually are very chaotic which can be stressful; on other occasions it can also be very charming. Generally I like the atmosphere as people from all possible cultural, social and economical backgrounds live side by side.

Golden Oldie: What are your best and least liked cities?

Eddy Francot; Best: St. Petersburg, Budapest, Berlin, London. Least: Cairo. I was there last October. If possible, I hope for the Cairenes that their living standards will improve quickly now.

Golden Oldie: What is the furthest place you ever went to?

Eddy Francot; Moscow to the East; Syria, Jordan and Egypt to the South; Los Angeles to the West; Finnish Lapland to the North.

Golden Oldie: Which country would you like to visit in the near future?

Eddy Francot; I hope to reunite soon with three friends from Serbia, Spain and Greece, I expect in one of these countries. Or somewhere in the east; it does not really matter and will depend on our travel appetite.

Golden Oldie: What are your hobbies?

Eddy Francot; Adventure racing, four or five times per year. Adventure races involve check points, navigation, multiple stages with different disciplines, for example running, mountainbiking, kickbiking, canoeing, climbing, you name it, and special tasks. You do it as a team and mostly it takes a day, say eight hours, to finish. This year my teammate and I aim to participate for the first time in a multi-day race and in a four-person-team race. In between the races I run and cycle to stay fit. I much enjoy music, generally rock for the kick or jazz to relax. Sometimes I play the electric guitar.

Golden Oldie: What are you most afraid of?

Eddy Francot; That one day our quality of life may change for the worse triggered by some financial or political event, or the shortage of a resource like oil. With that I mean for lack of a better generalization the effects of for example hyper-inflation, mass redundancy, lack of food and fuel, civil distress or potentially war. There are worst-case scenarios that are not quite unrealistic. I do not mean to say that we should panic and get sleepless nights, but in the financial and political systems we designed we cannot take peace, prosperity and economic growth for granted. The most frustrating of it all is in my opinion that these things would affect everybody including people who were not involved in the original problem at all. It would happen to you and everyone around you, and you would have to live with it.

Golden Oldie: What’s never missing in your fridge?

Eddy Francot; I could not do without a good breakfast in the morning, and some evenings I much like to enjoy a bottle of some special Belgian beer. So those should always be in.

Golden Oldie: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?

Eddy Francot; Optimistic, open-minded, engaging, pragmatic, entrepreneurial.