She was never talking to the microphone at the Agora Zaragoza, but nevertheless she was definitely one of the most prominent participants. Ksenia Lupanova was always everywhere, taking photos, making videos, spreading crazy and enthusiastic AEGEE spirit 24 hours per day – minus the occasional couple of hours of sleep per night. The PR Responsible of AEGEE-Moskva is also coordinator of the next Transsiberian Dream TSU in 2014 – and already now full of other plans. The Golden Times spoke with her.

Ksenia with the AEGEE-Moskva shirt she designed

Golden Times: Ksenia, you were one of the faces of Agora in Zaragoza as Golden Times photographer. I think you took photos of nearly everyone… How did you enjoy the event?
Ksenia Lupanova: It was my third Agora, before was Enschede and Budapest. Each was unique, great and in interesting locations. But combination of Zaragoza was C-C-C-Combo. Sleeping, eating and spending all plenary and workshops in such a beautiful architecture masterpiece was unbelievable. Guess I also like it more, because being a photographer made the Agora special for me, catching faces of people hugging each other, speakers on the huge screen, candidates with the background of their presentations. I want to say that I really saw the Agora like under a microscope. About the organizational part: such kind of people make me believe that where is no limits, all what you need is team and enthusiasm.

Golden Times: A few words about you: where do you live, how old are you, what do you study?
Ksenia: I am 20 years old, living in Moscow for last nine years, studying at the Moscow Architect Institute. I always make one small mistake: I say “I will go to Europe” or “We will organize an event for Europeans”, because I was born in the Asian part of Russia, 6000 kilometres from Moscow, in Yakutia.

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Ksenia with Agora organiser Joni – and the great AEGEE-Moskva calendar 2014

Golden Times: How did you join AEGEE?
Ksenia (smiles): I joined AEGEE on 11th February 2012, near 19:02 Moscow time, I saw the clock in the moment I paid my first fee. It was during our Local Training Course, at the end of my winter holidays after my first exam session. After my first semester I suffered from sleepless nights. While working for university projects I lost my motivation and realized that I got no new friends, lost contacts with friends from high-school and stopped with my hobbies. A colleague of my mom, who was member of AEGEE-Moskva for a long time and organizer of the Transsiberian Dream TSU, told her that she should suggest me to join the AEGEE presentation. We chatted a bit before, and he said that it is exactly what I need. So I came. And since I was there from 1 till 9 p.m., I won a discount for the fee in one game, after one more discount just because I was there until the end and I joined. In the following week our Winter Event took place. In the first day there was European Night, it was strange, unknown and something new, but within 15 minutes I fell under the AEGEE spell.

Ksenia at work

Golden Times: Back to the Agora Zaragoza. What did you like best about it and what did you like least?
Ksenia: I like the amount of inspiration at this Agora, the overall flow of ideas and at the same time disputes. And I absolutely love small things and details, it was always on time. For example: cold shower and welcome dinner without tables, but after that they suddenly provided ice-cream and flooded us with chocolate! And the spa was adorable – exactly what you need in the middle of an Agora.

Golden Times: You took more than 1000 awesome photos. What do you like so much about it? And what kind of photos are your favourites?
Ksenia: I love this experience. It was my first time making reportage shooting, I saw all people, I got a possibility to meet more AEGEE people, not only people from my antenna and some friends as usual. I was always recording videos or making pictures, since the first second in the morning. Once I opened my eyes in the gym and saw Aachen bears waking up participants, so I, still sleeping, took my tripod and started to work. Or in the plenary Fabian Brüggemann make energizers and wake up “800 volunteers” for a massage and slow-motion fighting. People smiling, dancing, making serious faces before asking questions, waiting in queue to microphone or silhouettes dancing on stage, illuminating from behind with Zaragora and AEGEE-Zaragoza logo. So I was almost non-stopping taking pictures, with small breaks for sleep.

…but this work can be exhausting.

Golden Times: You are also famous for making excellent videos. How did your love for making videos start?
Ksenia: I had no idea that I love to do it until I tried. The first one was a promo for the Transsiberian Dream TSU vol.4 (, I just received the task from the board that we need a promo video ASAP! I suggested an idea and of course started to be responsible for the realization. We met at 8 in the morning with one guy on the railway station, it was raining in March, so I just pinched the REC button and was trying to keep in line with the idea and choose an interesting composition. One my friends from university helped me with mounting the materials to video, and the next time AEGEE-Moskva decided that we need a video… I just tried by myself with Sony Vegas.

Golden Times: And which AEGEE video are you most proud of?
Ksenia: I am proud of all of them actually, because all of them were made by AEGEE-Moskva, from the beginning till the final showing, with all our creativity and sometimes crazy ideas. But I am most proud about this one about Transsiberian Dream vol. 4: of this one  I was recording without any idea how I will make a video after – I had no experience with programs yet – but finally I put these touching moments to video, which brought some tears to participants and organizers. I saw it!

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…but not for long!

Golden Times: You are also part of a team of people that is going to create an AEGEE-Europe image film. What kind of ideas do you have for that? And when will the film be ready?
Ksenia: We have a flexible deadline around March/April, to present it at the Spring Agora Patra. There are a lot of ideas, I prefer not to share them all, because until the final product will be ready it can change a lot. But I can say that it will be awesome, full of AEGEE-spirit and include all brightest moments of being AEGEEan. There will be two videos, one for externals and one for members. We would like to focus on AEGEE image, how our organization is unique. For me, personally, I would like to see that the video will contain some sentimental stuff. I am working together with Tom Simons from AEGEE-Enschede and Gerardo Garcia Diaz from AEGEE-Oviedo and SUCT, both famous for their skills. We will try different techniques which we know and which we will learn. For example I made a time-lapse tutorial just before the Agora, and made some shoot-age with it…

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Ksenia and friends from Moskva

Golden Times: You are also in the board of AEGEE-Moskva. What’s your task?
Ksenia: I am PR-responsible. My tasks is managing our page in social media, website and promo materials such as video or T-shirts. To be clear, this list can always become longer, because each meeting can bring new ideas we will try to realize. And ideas can come from unexpected directions.

Golden Times: And how is being board member of AEGEE-Moskva?
Ksenia (smiles): Being a board member brings me more responsibility, I am still learning, sometimes I can’t manage myself what to talk about other people. But with my antenna I feel great support and readiness for incredible actions, and for sure I will keep going. With flashmobs, recording a promo video, brainstorming ideas or shooting a calendar- that’s what brought our antenna members closer to each other, so I also feel a social part of my work.

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The Transsiberian Dream

Golden Times: Your antenna’s most prominent event is the Transsiberian Dream TSU. How was the event this year?
Ksenia: The route was the same this year: Moscow-Kazan-Ekaterinburg-Irkutsk-Baikal Lake. Each year we are discussing possible changes, but each small change would change a system of contacts and well-known places… We got one cool new possibility for the next TSU, but I will not announce it until we will be sure for 100%. This year I was coordinator only of the Moscow part, I managed to go only till Kazan with this group of awesome people and afterwards I came back to Moscow for architectural practice… It was the hardest moment of this summer, because I can’t describe how I love the people, who are applying for this TSU, they are so unique. The whole company is really different from all the other SUs I attended. I was moving in the train back to Moscow, while they were moving in the direction of Baikal Lake. I was crying halfway from the 12-hour trip and sleeping the other half.

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Great local PR

Golden Times: How is it possible that you can make this fantastic trip for AEGEE every year – and at such a low price? Do you have good contacts?
Ksenia (smiles): Thank you for saying “low price”, I can count it as a compliment, as we got the highest fee from the list of SUs. It’s not really about contacts, although of course we got friends or discounts somewhere. I think it’s about people who decided to make this trip for the first time and keep making it every year since 2009, because of the basic idea to leave European territory and go that far, leaving the participants in the middle of Siberia… Imagine how it sounded before they did it! And everybody saw that everything is possible. The price is like this, cause we need more than 50% of the fee for the tickets, in order to make 5431 kilometres by train.

Golden Times: It seems your antenna will organise the Transsiberian Dream TSU forever…
Ksenia: Well, to be honest I got no idea when we will stop doing the Transsiberian Dream, too many people saying “I will attend this TSU in the end of my AEGEE-life…”, so each year we get many new applicants. But come on, people, for sure we will not do it forever! We will do it until we will have organizers, motivated to go on. So apply for Transsiberian Dream vol. 6 in 2014! I promise an amazing SU, because I already see a team of great people, who is ready to rock. But I can’t promise Transsiberian Dream vol.7…

Also the CD is fan of Ksenia

Golden Times: Will we see you one day on European level in AEGEE?
Ksenia: For sure. The problem is, that I can’t really understand what it will be. I simply love the creative spirit of the SUCT, want to join the PRC, I am interested in communication in the network, and adore the idea to work one year only for AEGEE… but I don’t know how and where I can apply my skills and ideas. We will see. I surprise myself each time I am thinking that maybe I can join this, this and this…

Golden Times: What hobbies do you have aside from AEGEE?
Ksenia: For me it is hard to separate my hobbies aside of AEGEE, because all of them somehow are connected. Drawing, cooking, making videos or knitting or even my tries with glass mosaic – I already used all of them in AEGEE work! That’s what I really like in AEGEE, I feel no borders or no limits for what I can actually do, also I discovered some new interests thanks to AEGEE.

And she is also a party girl, as could be seen at the Agora Zaragoza – like the Halloween party

Golden Times: Please complete the sentence: “AEGEE is for me…”
Ksenia: AEGEE for me is family, life and love. In each group of people, as university class, working company, any other formation, there are one or two enthusiasts, who want more, who can do more and they are unique in this. They can’t sit and do nothing. So AEGEE for me is a set of all kind of unique enthusiasts, people who are making their own rules, as in a quote of Steve Jobs: “The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” I really find my key to be happy in AEGEE.

Golden Times: How would you describe yourself in five words?
Ksenia: Chaotic, open minded, hospitable, creative and hard-to-stop.

Golden Times: Is there anything you would like to add?
Ksenia: I would like to say huge SPASIBO to the coincidence that I found AEGEE. It seems that this is going to last for a long time!

Ksenia’s Agora Zaragoza photos for the Golden Times:

Some of Ksenia’s videos on Youtube: