When Evrim Emiroğlu found AEGEE, it changed her life. “I was always looking for a place where I could speak about current political issues with no tension”, the AEGEE-Eskişehir member recalls. Soon she discovered the many possibilities and joined the European level, which has already led her to the CD. The Network Director would now like to step up and become AEGEE-Europe’s next President at the upcoming Agora in Bucharest.

Golden Times: How did you join AEGEE exactly? How did you find out about it?
Evrim Emiroğlu: In the first week that I started university, I found AEGEE; no actually, AEGEE found me. A girl held my arm randomly and asked me if I would like to be involved in one of the biggest international organizations in Europe. My first reaction was: “Can I improve my language skills?” She nodded in agreement and I was in.

GT: How long did it take you from the first moment until you signed the membership form and joined AEGEE?
Evrim: The first thing I experienced in AEGEE-Eskişehir was the Forum. I joined my first weekly meeting in Eskişehir and I was impressed that people were just sitting there for three hours continuously speaking about current political issues with no tension. They were perfectly expressing themselves and listening to what others were thinking. All my life, I was the person who always criticized things, and I was always unsatisfied that I couldn’t have a discussion with people around me so that I could express my perspective without creating any tension. For the first time, this was the platform where I saw great mutual tolerance and effort in terms of finding common ground. There are some times in your life that you feel you are in the right place and you see the upcoming future. This was the moment AEGEE became a place for me and I signed the membership form in the second common meeting of my local.

GT: What’s the typical drink and food you bring to European Nights?
Evrim: Oh, of course, Rakı!  Even though I think this drink does not suit that environment. Well, or the environment doesn’t suit the drink. And as food met helvası.

GT: At an AEGEE party where will we find you? On the dancefloor? Talking at the bar?
Evrim: It depends on the day. Some days during the Agora, when I got exhausted of all the things going on during the day, I leave myself to the dancefloor in order to get rid of all the thoughts and also to avoid to get more AEGEE related conversations in the night. On the other hand, I love this event because I see so many friends all around Europe and most of the time I prefer to approach them or approached by them to have a nice talk.

GT: What was your first position in the local board?
Evrim: I was the Treasurer and External Relations Director.

GT: What was your favourite event as organiser – and why is it your favourite?
Evrim: Oh, this is a very hard question. I was so amazed by the Night of Seven Antennae in Eskişehir in 2015. This event was one of my babies. I spent a lot of time on the application for this event, almost like applying for an agora. I was so happy when we got selected, because this was the first European event after years that my local was going to organize – apart from typical events that we used to organize such as Summer Universities or Network Meetings. We were a huge team working on this and the event contained so many different dimensions. We had a thematic conference, live streaming, a gala, workshops and more. I enjoyed both organizing and participating in this event.

GT: What was your first Agora and how did you feel there? Happy, excited, overwhelmed, lost?
Evrim: Agora Asturias in 2015! Oh, it was my best and worst Agora. It was the worst because I was the only delegate from my local in my first Agora and I had no experience in this. This was the exam period at my university so no one could attend it. Although I have finished university with a good grade, I was never a regular student, so I decided to not attend the exams and go to an Agora on the other side of the continent. It was the best, because this was the Agora where I met new people more than ever. Because I was alone, I was asking so many questions to other delegates even though I didn’t know them. I realized how friendly this organization is. On the one side, a group of Dutch delegates was giving me information from the prytanium that I was not able to attend while some other delegates were explaining to me what is going on when I got lost on the discussions during the plenaries. I earned so many friends in that event and they are still part of my life.

GT: Have you ever hichhiked to an AEGEE event? If not: why not? If yes: how many times?
Evrim: I hitchhiked from an AEGEE event only one time – from Agora Asturias to Madrid. I lost my connection and there was no other ticket because of Easter. There I met Thomas Leszke. When he heard my story he immediately offered me to hitchhike together even though we met just 15 minutes ago and even though he had a car waiting for him. He cancelled his car and hitchhiked with me for 12 hours to Madrid. So much love for this fantastic guy! Apart from that, I hitchhiked during my private trips. One of the unforgettable ones is when I hitchhiked from the Netherlands to Turkey in 16 days.

GT: Do you like cooking and what’s your favourite dish you like to cook?
Evrim: Yes, I do. Hmm, I think dolma and fish. Of course not at the same time!

GT: What’s never missing in your fridge?
Evrim: Tomatoes! This is the only thing I buy every time I go to the supermarket.

GT: What do your parents think about the idea that you are so active in AEGEE?
Evrim: Another difficult question. Because this kind of organizations is not so common nor easy to explain in Turkey, I think they still don’t clearly understand what exactly I am doing in AEGEE. On the other hand, they know the obstacles and barriers in the country for taking an active role in political youth organizations and maintain your existence. Therefore, they are generally proud of me with my passions and achievements.

GT: In a typology of members there are the three aspects fun member, career member and idealist – to which percentage are you which of these aspects?
Evrim: I am an idealist member who needs fun in my life. I can rank myself 60% idealist, 30% fun and 10% career. I consider myself a person with strong values, who is brave to strive for them without being afraid of any obstacles on the way. I prefer to proceed step by step in my way and collect a lot of positive and negative experiences and use them for the main goals. I can be extremely focused and serious while I am working but on the other hand, I have a funny side mostly visible for the people who are close to me. My best working environment is where people having a lot of fun during work. I can handle heavy works on this kind of environments without feeling tired. Finally, regarding the career: if I wanted a career I would already have quit AEGEE. I care about my career, but the thing that makes me satisfied is how the process went and what the result of the all the effort is – and not what I personally got from that work.

The Night of the Seven Antennae

GT: What other hobbies do you have aside from AEGEE?
Evrim: I like to watch series, go to the gym and recently I started to do acro yoga, which I enjoy a lot. I have a strong interest in politics, especially in developing countries. I used to play baseball when I was in high school.

GT: Did you consider joining a political party or maybe want to do it later?
Evrim: Well, I would like to do this, but I am not sure how much I can tolerate Turkish politics. Therefore, I prefer to stay in a place where I can freely make politics.

GT: What do you study – and why?
Evrim: I studied Economics. I honestly don’t remember why I chose this department, but I really liked it during my studies. The specific knowledge provides you with a huge understanding of the society around you.

GT: What’s your dream job?
Evrim: I am really interested in social entrepreneurship. I would like to run a company works base on projects related to social topics. Basically, the professional level of what I used to do.

GT: What’s the favourite city or place on this planet you ever visited?
Evrim: I am always struggling to respond to questions starting with “What’s your favorite”. I do not have a favorite city, book, movie or music. I try to enjoy everything as much as I can and for me this kind of things always connected with the moment. For my traveling, this is rather with whom I am traveling or with whom I am meeting in the city rather than which city I am traveling. And how does it makes me feel rather than what kind of sculpture I saw during my traveling. These small things can completely affect my satisfaction.

GT: And where would you really like to go?
Evrim: I would like to go out of Europe! I saw almost every country in Europe and got familiar with most of the culture thanks to AEGEE. Now I really want to discover different cultures and continents. Asia is the first in my list. But you never know…

GT: What’s your biggest frustration in AEGEE?
Evrim: The exclusive structure in the organization. I still don’t see AEGEE is giving equal access to everyone. We don’t have structured user-friendly financial help to the members, and our membership fee system needs to be reviewed. We don’t have an inclusive structure for disabled people in our events and European bodies. When we are organizing a conference, rarely there are people who have different ideas. I missing sometimes the diversity in the organization.

GT: Please complete the sentence: “AEGEE is for me…”
Evrim: AEGEE is for me a life changer. After I became Network Commissioner and Network Director I realized more and more that the effect of AEGEE on the individual’s life is very different in different geographical areas. AEGEE changed my life, and I changed other people living in this organization. Given inspiration was the key to my motivation for the last couple of years.

GT: How would you describe yourself in a few keywords?
Evrim: Adaptable, care, dedicated, critical, passionate, ambitious.