The result was clear: Luis Alvarado Martínez (22) was the most voted person in the poll “Whom would you like to see as AEGEE-Europe’s next president?”, initiated by the AEGEE online magazine The AEGEEan. Luis received 185 out of 644 votes. The next person in the ranking got 137 votes. Luis confirmed the Golden Times that he will candidate for President – and give a lot of insight in his vision for AEGEE. Note: The Golden Times will stay impartial in this election. Every other CD candidate will receive the chance to present himself or herself in an interview.

Golden Times:  Luis, in a poll by the The AEGEEan you received more votes than any other person. Will you really candidate for President of AEGEE-Europe?
Luis Alvarado Martínez: Yes, definitely. I feel I am prepared and that I could contribute a lot more to AEGEE from this position. I want to take this challenge and give back what this organisation has given me. AEGEE and the contribution to society through youth work is something which I’m really passionate about and something which I think I could help improve. I think we can really have an impact if we play our cards right, just like we did in our glorious past.

Golden Oldie: How do you feel about the online vote?
Luis (smiles): Well, it’s actually quite nice to see that some people support you. But first one has to be really elected.  I was quite surprised of such an involvement of members in the poll. Of course it’s only an online poll on Facebook, which is not the most reliable, but anyway it’s something nice to see. The real show we will see at the Agora.

Golden Times:  You were President of AEGEE-Las Palmas. You are Network Commissioner and PR responsible in the AEGEE-Academy. Tell us about your AEGEE background.
Luis: The term as President of AEGEE-Las Palmas was definitely one of the best tasks. Right now I’m still in the board of AEGEE-Las Palmas as External Relations, and last year I was named Honorary Member. Later I got involved in the NetCom, which has turned out to be one of my best experiences in AEGEE, mainly because of the amazing team of subcommies I have. I’m also very happy with the work of the current term of AEGEE-Academy, as we are a team of friends. Academy has also allowed to develop myself as trainer and attend many trainings. This term I have also had the opportunity to get involved in the Spanish Youth Council, and get to know more about what’s going on in the EU level concerning the European Youth Forum, as I am also involved in the European Youth Capital project.

Golden Times: As CD member, what would you like to change or improve in AEGEE?
Luis: Establish a very strong team in CD both on work and personal relations, finding a solution if the Youth in Action Programme disappears, installing a Secretariat, getting involved in National Youth Councils in order to have a louder voice at the YFJ and in different policy making processes. I would also do a lot of corporate fund-raising, either improving it changing our Headquarters in Brussels, work with the national goverments, which does not mean having a National level. We should also go back to the famous big EGEE Conferences on topics such as European Integration and Eurosclerosis, space and recognition of non-formal education. In general I’d like to bring much more thematic work to AEGEE, carry on to advote for the Eastern Partnership issues, give more power to other bodies of AEGEE such as NetCom, promote much more trainings in our organisation and very importantly, making sure our organisation does not disappear. These are some of the things which come to my mind.

Golden Times: There are some people on European level, who think about structural changes, for example to strengthen the role of the Network Commission or to outsource tasks from the CD to the network, in order to have more resources for the CD to do lobby work or fundraising in Brussels. What do you think about this?
Luis: Throughout the years we have seen different CDs being drowned by the amount of bureaucratic work. This does not allow them to commit to AEGEE’s full potential and develop strategies striving for what we want as the European organisation we are. There is a need to delegate this bureaucracy to another body, like for example the Network Commission, or with the creation of new ones like a Secretariat – something which is already being discussed. This would allow our Board of Directors to get more involved in in the policy making process of Europe, as well as being able to lobby and contribute to a higher extent to the bigger picture of the Youth world in Europe. With our main source of money, the Youth in Action programme from the European Commission, about to disappear, there should be a lot more work on both public and corporate fundraising.

Golden Times: Recently you had the idea of creating an AEGEE History Team or WG or Commission. What would that be about?
Luis: AEGEE founder Franck Biancheri said in his book “The Emergence of Eurocitizens”: “Pour savoir où l’on doit aller, il est bon de savoir d’où l’on vient”. This means: “To know where we should go, it is useful to know where we have come from”. We are constantly saying that in AEGEE we are always reinventing the wheel. We make the same mistakes and do exactly the same projects as other AEGEE members did 20 and 15 years ago. The lack of historic knowledge of AEGEE members causes a great part of our problems nowadays.

Golden Times: And the History Team could help?
Luis: Yes. Even some of our official materials are wrong. What was the inspiration to create EGEE? What were the founding locals? Did you know that Madrid was not one of them as everybody thought? Have we ever done something apart from Erasmus? Yes we have, and big things too! Are the problems we have now, only of our time? No, the same problems arose in the past, and they found solutions to them. The fact is, most of the things we are living now, thousands of young people lived before us. Being able to truly understand how this huge European movement started would help us solve some of our big questions today. It only takes a dive into the AEGEE Archives and contacting past members, which for sure will be very glad to share their experience. This is why the AEGEE genius Edouard Mougin from AEGEE Lyon came up with the idea of having a team of people working on this. Checking our archives, check what we have, what we don’t have, who were the AEGEE legends, what projects were successful in the past and which not. Connecting our past with our present is vital to be able to have a future.

Golden Times: How and when did you actually join AEGEE?
Luis (smiling): I discovered AEGEE one day at the university library when I saw a poster which said “Have the best SUmmer of your life”, so I went and joined the meeting. I could not believe what those people were telling me. At the time I wanted to learn French, and I was extremely lucky, being selected for the prestigious SU of AEGEE-Paris, where the magic started. Laure Onidi, Julien Penalba, the Fauchille Family, it’s all their fault.

Golden Times: How would you describe your home antenna AEGEE-Las Palmas in three sentences?
Luis: A group of passionate dreamers, which have started from the very roots and have achieved an amazing level of knowledge, experience and expertise. This local is really capable of doing anything they dare to do think of. The best thing is that they never lose their energy, youth and innocence.

Golden Times: Now describe yourself as hyperactive AEGEE addict. How long does it take to travel from Las Palmas to – let’s say – Berlin. And is it very expensive?
Luis: Let’s say around 3.5 hours. When you are a citizen of the Canary Islands, you have a special ID, and with it, all the flights from the islands to the main land of Spain, have 50 percent discount. This allows us to travel as much as the others, and in many cases even cheaper. Also, thanks to all the new airlines, the Canary Islands are very well connected to the rest of Europe.

Golden Times: Despite the distances, you’ve been already active on European level. Being Network Commissioner for Spanish, French and Portuguese locals, what are your most memorable moments of this task?
Luis: Every time our NetCom crew organises something involving our whole area it ends up in a very nice initiative. Events like Plan Renove of AEGEE Madrid, a massive teambuilding event with more than 140 members, or Network Meeting like the one in Porto bring me very nice memories. But for sure the best is when your work is being recognized by the members of your locals, and they even ask to get involved in it.

Golden Times: Spanish locals are incredible active. What’s the secret behind this?
Luis: There is no secret. There is only one big difference between our NetCom area and others. Our locals have Juan Sordo (Oviedo), Miguel Gallardo (Alicante), Joao Monteiro (Porto), Yolanda Corrales (Burgos-Madrid), Coral Cabezas (Madrid), Alberto Ayora (Coruña), Sara Oliveira (Porto), Fernando Campo (Santander), Lucille Rieux (Toulouse) and me (Las Palmas). All of them with very long AEGEE careers. So they are not my locals, but our locals :)

Golden Times: So the secret is a big team?
Luis: Yes. While other areas have only one NetCommie per 20 or 30 locals, we have ten people just for our locals. This allows us to work at an amazing speed, and reaching unimaginable levels of efficiency. A few terms ago, Virginia Pañeda (Oviedo) and Juan Hernandez (Madrid) introduced the concept of NetCom Crew  “Tripulación NetCom 1.0”, later on Oscar Ronda (León) also had his team in the Tripulación 2.0, later Sara Vierna (Coruña) with Tripulación 3.0 and me with Tripulación 4.0. The secret is continuity in our work, we can visit all our locals without any problem, we are always there when locals need us, and we can even develop initiatives outside AEGEE. Thanks to the effort of the Crew 4.0 AEGEE is member of the Spanish Youth Council, locals are getting involved in local and regional youth councils, we have unified Portuguese, French and Spanish, the French are reviving and even have their own project which you will hear about soon, we have three new locals this term and some more to come, and something which we are very proud of is that Spanish people have started to speak in English, even in the internal lists and events.

Golden Times: The locals also generate a lot of great people on European level.
Luis: We have our members in almost all the European Level bodies, our locals have hosted a big number of international trainings, statutory events, conferences and teambuilding events. We developed the “NetCom member of the month”, which recognises the work of our members, NetCom monthly events agenda, our locals becoming European Voluntary Service (EVS) host organisations, we are working on common FR strategies to be able to get grants together… and the most important is that locals have a say in what we do for them. They decide which initiatives we should be developing next. However, without the work of the previous NetCom Crews the work we are doing today wouldn’t have been possible. This is why continuity is so important. This is our secret, and we would like to share it with everyone.

Golden Times: Let’s talk about your job in the Academy board. You said you are trying to change the image of the AEGEE Academy. Why? How is the image now and how would you like it to be?
Luis: Ever since I joined AEGEE, I have seen the AEGEE-Academy as an elite group of AEGEE legends. I had the feeling that you needed to be in AEGEE for 10 years in order to be able to belong to it. This is a pity, as very valuable, motivated and experienced members wouldn’t even try to join. The new concept of the AEGEE Academy wants to change this, still allowing legends to join, but also allowing members to develop themselves and learn to become trainers. It’s about getting the best out of each one of our members, so they can go back home and make the magic happen. We want an Academy, which everybody knows about and anyone can access. An Academy which will develop many more trainings per year, not because we want to, but because locals know how important they are and ask for more.

Golden Times: How would you like to achieve this?
Luis: We have developed a different membership system for the Academy, but for this you will have to wait a bit. I cannot tell yet. Apart from this, we are going to change the whole visual identity, from logo, to colours, materials and hopefully webpage.

Golden Times: Finally, a few more personal questions. How do you feel about the idea to leave the beautiful Canary Islands and to move to the rainiest capital of Europe, in case you are elected?
Luis: I won’t lie about this. I will never get used to Brussels’ weather and will for sure miss a lot my 22 to 25 degrees all year, and specially the sun. But I guess that at some point, one has to accept that Paradise cannot last forever.

Golden Times: What was your favourite AEGEE event?
Luis: I have very good memories from my ES1 in Riga 2010. There I met incredible people which are still good friends now, very inspiring trainers, and met for first time my lovely girls of AEGEE-Riga, with whom later we would sign the Twin Antenna Agreement at Agora Istanbul. Or EBM Riga, when 20 members from AEGEE-Las Palmas came to Riga to help out as organisers. There we saw some real good collaboration between the very north and the very south.

Golden Times: Which were your best moments so far in AEGEE?
Luis: I wouldn’t know which one to choose. For sure the trainings are at the very top of my list. In those events you share and experience more intensely than in others. ES1 Riga 2010, ES2 Poznan 2010, ES1 Las Palmas 2010 as organiser, ES1 Passau 2011 as manager, SUPS Krakow 2011as trainer and other external trainings like the Leadership Summer School from IFISO or International Work School by Spanish Youth Council and European Youth Forum, bring me many good memories.

Golden Times: And your worst moments?
Luis: The worst I find very hard to say. Maybe when projects like the Transatlantic Youth Leadership Project with Latin America finally did not work, when people apply for positions and then fail to carry out their tasks or people who just want a position for the sake of having one, focusing only on their needs and forgetting the ones of those around. But AEGEE is our playground, our training for the real world, which is waiting for us out there. So all these I see as valuable experiences, which have helped me to reach the point where I am today.

Golden Times: You were professional basketball player for two years. Where did you play? And do you still have time for it?
Luis: I started playing when I was 13 in my home town in Lanzarote. When I was 15 I got a scholarship to go to and play for CB Gran Canaria, where I finally got the opportunity to play on the professional team for two years. It was then, when I discovered, mainly thanks to AEGEE, that there was an amazing world outside of the basketball courts.

Golden Times: And then you quit basketball?
Luis: When I discovered AEGEE, I decided to decrease the level of training and train kids as a basketball coach. Last year during my Erasmus in the beautiful city of Lyon, I played for the University of Lyon III team, but this year, with so many things going on in my head I can’t find time. It was during those years that I learnt one of the most important lessons of my life: no matter how brilliant you are individually and how many things you have done and achieved. If you don’t have a good team with you all the time, you will fail. The leader of the team is not the best one, or the one who achieves most goals, but the one who makes the rest of the team members achieve their goals and shine.

Golden Times: What other hobbies do you have?
Luis: I love cinema and popcorn, sports, reading, eating, family and friends and trainings where I continue develop my skills. Virginia Pañeda, Arne Reis, Aga Strycharz and Astrid Schrader are the ones to blame for this.

Golden Times: What’s never missing in your fridge?
Luis: Chocolate, Coca-Cola and Nachos!

Golden Times: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
Luis: Passionate, idealist, workaholic, competitive and very non-comformist. If there’s something which could be done better, do it!