At the Agora in Enschede three candidates compete for the task of Secretary General. In alphabetical order: Elena Antova, Lucille Rieux and Seren Güneş. The Golden Times asked all of them for an interview. Read today what motivates the current Financial Director of AEGEE-Europe, Elena Antova, to candidate. “The Secretary General is representing the bridge between the AEGEE members and the CD and inside the CD itself”, Elena says. “If I continued as Financial Director, I would be more experienced than this year, but at the same time I feel that it is time for me to do something different for AEGEE.”

Golden Times: Elena, you candidate for Secretary General. Why?
Elena Antova: Before moving to Brussels, my understanding of the position of Secretary General was really different. I was thinking that it is mostly connected with maintaining the house and coordination of the statutory events preparation. These tasks are indeed included, but the position provides so many possibilities, so different and at the same time interesting tasks.

Elena Antova and her CD mates

Golden Times: For example?
Elena: The coordination of statutory events is taking 20 to 25 percent of your time; next to it, there is a wide horizon with a huge variety of opportunities opening for you. You are working on the team management, managing the administration, assisting and supporting your team; you can also chose to work at something additional. For me, for example it is really important for our association to have a common visual identity; I will be really happy to be able to work on it. After eight months in Brussels, I realised that this is exactly what I want to do in my AEGEE future.

Golden Times: You are currently Financial Director. Wouldn’t it be easier to stay in that job?
Elena: Thank you for this question! Indeed it would be easier for me to stay at the same position, but it won’t be a challenge for me anymore. And I am a person who likes challenges. True, I would be a better Financial Director than this year, but at the same time I feel that it is time for me to do something different for AEGEE. Money is something really important, but it is not everything. If you don’t have it at this moment you will find a way to earn it later. Important is what motivates you, what is your driving force. My driving force is AEGEE. As a Financial Director I felt a bit aside at some moments from what is really happening in our association and I wanted to be more and more involved. The Secretary General is representing the bridge between the AEGEE members and the CD and inside the CD itself. It lays the foundations of the relations within the team, making sure that the work is going smoothly and there is respect and harmony in the team.

Golden Times: Why did you decide to candidate now, quite some time after the original deadline?
Elena: The same situation happened also last year. I was checking every day if someone applied for the position I am interested in. The only difference is that this year it was harder to decide. I can say that it was one of the hardest decisions in my life.

Elena with the CD mascot, a gift by Les Anciens.

Golden Times: Why?
Elena: It is really different when you apply and you don’t really know what you are getting yourself in, and when you have been there for almost one year and you know the price you are paying. You are away from your family, away from friends, you don’t do some of the things you are used to, because not always the conditions allows it. You are living in a totally different atmosphere and way of living. For a person like me, that have never lived out of his comfort zone it was really hard to adapt. From the other side you are postponing your education and also your plans by one more year. I have spent a lot of time on measuring and thinking what is really important for me and what I want to do in my live. I realise that AEGEE means too much for me and I am not ready to leave it. Some people are calling be brave for applying for one more year, other stupid. I know one thing, I took the right decision.

Golden Times: Alfredo said that he wants to give the Secretary General task more importance. How much are you secretary and how much general?
Elena: It depends on the situation and what the team needs. I can be both.

Golden Times: What is the favourite task of all things you would do as Secretary General?
Elena: Team management. Working on the team dynamics, assisting and supporting the team with everything needed, ensuring that the team is going in the right direction in order to achieve the common goal. Being the bridge between the CD and the Network, stable and unshakable striving toward the future.

Golden Times: How and when did you actually join AEGEE?
Elena: I joined in March 2009, but at that time I had really no idea what is AEGEE about. A friend of mine came back from an exchange and he was really excited because of it. Then it took me around three months to manage to convince him to take me to a meeting. I think it was worth it that I didn’t gave up, and this is how everything started. I just fell in love in AEGEE and now more than three years later it is still the same nice feeling. There are times when I cannot imagine my life without it, everything will be so empty and I will have too much free time… Anyway, I am not planning to leave AEGEE soon, there are so many things I want to do.

Golden Times: You did a lot of things in AEGEE already. Which three of them are most important to you?
Elena: It is hard to say, which are my favourite ones, but the ones I always remember with a smile is the Pre-Agora Sofia 2010 “Shake the Planet”. It was really nice event, which we made in cooperation with two Working Groups. It was the third event in a row for my local within a period of three months, but I really wanted to make it happen. I remember myself running to arrange accommodation, workshop rooms, transportation, social programme and Agora transportation. It was really crazy, but at the end the event passed really well and I had really great time there. One of my best times in AEGEE was also during my term in the Audit Commission. I really loved the work there. We were not just trying to collect the Financial Reports, but also able to help to the locals. The third and most important for me is my year as a Financial Director and part of Comite Directeur. This position totally changed my life. Aside from taking care for the finances, I was part of the decision making process, trying together with my team to work for the best of AEGEE.

Golden Times: Which were your best and worst moments so far in AEGEE? And your favourite event?
Elena: The best moments are a lot, when I was elected in Alicante for Financial Director of AEGEE-Europe, the start of my first AEGEE event, my first time as an organiser or when I joined the board of the Environmental Working Group. The worst moment was when I had to leave the Juridical Commission. It was really a hard decision and I still miss it. My favourite event so far was the European School 2 in Poznan. This was the first AEGEE training I took part in and it literally opened my eyes what we can actually achieve together in AEGEE. There I learned many new things about the others and about myself, and I gained different organisational and planning skills.

Golden Times: Please complete this sentence: “AEGEE is for me…”
Elena: …love! Love to the mankind, love to the nature, love to the live itself, all possible types of love at one place. If it wasn’t this love, why would we fight against the discrimination and strive for equal right and opportunities, why would we fight to save our environment or for the recognition of the non-formal education, why would we strive for one united Europe? Because AEGEE is love!

Golden Times: What hobbies do you have?
Elena: I love reading, walking outside in the nature, photography and my newest passion is cooking. I really love to find some interesting recipes and then to modify them.

Golden Times: What’s your dream job after finishing AEGEE?
Elena: At this moment it is too early to think about this. I am still in the middle of my education. But I know that I want a work connected with helping and supporting other people, providing equal opportunities for everyone.

Golden Times: What’s never missing in your fridge?
Elena: Milk and cheese. I can’t imagine my fridge without them.

Golden Times: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
Elena: Persistent, adventurous, feisty, constant, equitable.

Golden Times: Anything you’d like to add? What should people know about you?
Elena: I want to thank you for this really nice interview and for giving the opportunity to all candidates to get closer to the network and to express their ideas!