This weekend AEGEE’s spring Agora 2021 will take place online. The GT sent interview questions to all CD candidates. Four of them replied. Here are the answers by CD candidate Marijana Asprovska from AEGEE-Skopje and the new Contact in Rotterdam, whose preferred tasks would be Projects or External Relations Director.

Golden Times: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
Marijana Asprovska: Dedicated, enthusiastic, extrovert, organized, with integrity.

You have an impressive long resume in AEGEE and it actually looked like you left the European level. What motivated you to run for the CD?
The organisation needs its members now more than ever and since my original plans for the next year got cancelled, I thought this is a good time for the next logical step after five years of constantly being active in AEGEE on various fields.

How will your CD candidature affect your work as re-founding president of Contact Rotterdam?
When the board got elected in January it was not clear yet how long the term will be, a year or less. Therefore, this leaves the opportunity to have elections in autumn too, meaning that if elected, my presidency will overlap just for a few months. I am anyway “presidenting” from a distance already, so that won’t be an issue either.

You wrote in your candidature that your preferred positions are Projects Director and External Relations. Why is that? Which of the two is your preferred one, if you had to choose one?
Projects Director is something I identify with more, but both of these functions complement each other quite well and they can be easily combined.

Can you elaborate your knowledge and experience in these fields?
In short, I have experience in writing grants for the EYF and the Erasmus+ programme, as well as writing smaller grants by local donors and embassies in Macedonia. I have experience in managing projects on local and international level, in AEGEE and outside of AEGEE too. My experience in External Relations is a bit more limited. I was External Relations director of WDEE2.0 and together with my position of president of the AEGEE contact in Rotterdam, they make up most of my AEGEE experience in this topic. The rest of it consists of ad-hoc experience in local NGOs in my country.

You mentioned that AEGEE has been hit hard by the pandemic. Indeed, the consequences for network size, diversity and motivation are severe. What should AEGEE do to make a turnaround?
I believe the future CD should focus on strengthening the network by direct support for the locals, with a more hands-on approach. Although the pandemic has been going on for over a year now, the actions to be taken are still rather immediate in my opinion. In such fast-changing times lack of planning is dangerous, but too much planning is even more dangerous. Time is a precious resource and it is to be used wisely. I would prefer investing more time on direct actions rather than drafting long documents and booklets which by the time we finish, their content has become irrelevant as the pandemic has taken a different turn.

Regarding projects: what kind of thematics and potential project topics do you feel underrepresented in AEGEE, what topics and projects should AEGEE focus on to get more relevance and attention among potential members and decision-makers?
I think the rising trend of political and Europe-related projects and activities is great and I would definitely support it more. I would also be interested in looking into some opportunities for peace-building actions like the Greek and Turkish civic dialogue activity that AEGEE had in the past. On the less political side, I find sustainability and culture projects as a good opportunity for presenting AEGEE internally and externally.

You want to make the CD more visible and approachable for the members. Can you mention three concrete ideas how to achieve it?
First, I think the CD members should not be only joining their appointed area’s activities, but also other local and regional activities from time to time just like they normally would before becoming a CD member. Second, not restricting all the communication to go via middle persons. While it is important to have structured way of communication, it is also important to ensure everyone is comfortable with it, and if some members prefer to approach the CD for certain issues personally, they are to be ensured it is fine to do so. Third, next to keeping the official announcement of CD decisions each month, I would like to look into options to be more present on some communication channels – such as Instagram stories or Telegram – with more frequent updates on what are we currently working on, as this can strengthen the sense of community, belonging and involvement within the network.

Let’s move on to some personal questions: how did you join AEGEE exactly?
At an NGO fair in my city. The SU applications were open exactly in that time and I joined to go to an SU.

What was your first task in AEGEE in general and what was your first position in the local board?
My first task was a helper on the SU organised by AEGEE-Skopje, and my first board position was Secretary General.

Marijana Asprovska in younger years.

What’s the typical food and drink you bring to European Nights?
Rakija and whatever snack is left until I arrive to the event. [laughing]

Moving to Brussels means also a lot of cooking. Do you like cooking and if yes, what’s your favourite dish you like to cook?
I’m more into eating rather than cooking.

What’s never missing in your fridge?
My fridge is usually empty. Before the pandemic I used to travel a lot, so I didn’t really have much in the fridge as I was often out of home.

What other hobbies do you have aside from AEGEE?
Covid-19 took away all my hobbies from me! I used to travel a lot, meet new people, go out with friends and party. It’s hard to say I do any of that nowadays…

How did you spend your time during the pandemic?
Right when I was about to leave AEGEE, the pandemic hit in and the “AEGEEans in quarantine” Facebook group appeared. It was the only thing that kept me going through all those months in the beginning. Then, I guess I just surrendered to the situation and adapted my lifestyle to an online format like everything else…

What do you study – and why?
I have a BA in Political Science, and I am not really sure why. It was a decision I made under pressure when I was 18. It was fun to study it, but it is not my cup of tea.

If you could take one AEGEE member to a desert island, who would it be? And why?
I can’t choose only one, but whoever I take, I am sure we will start a local there and sooner or later the rest will join too! [laughing]

What’s your biggest frustration in AEGEE?
Lack of action.

Please complete the sentence: “AEGEE is for me…”
AEGEE is for me self-development, identity, friends, Europe, home…