There are not many people who know AEGEE better than Maryana Semenyak. Member for seven years, organiser of 20 and participant in 45 international events. In a few days the former President and Honorary Member of AEGEE-Lviv will move to Brussels, as AEGEE-Europe’s new Interim Network Director! Her motivation: “Our organization allowed me to grow, to challenge myself, to find true friendship, at the end it made me who I am now!”, Maryana told the Golden Times. “This is the time to pay back!”

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Maryana (left) at the Agora Fair at Agora Cagliari 2014

Golden Times: Hi Maryana, congratulations for being selected as Interim CD member. When did you get the news and what did you feel when you heard it?
Maryana: Thank you, of course I was very happy and excited at the same time, this is a great chance and challenge in my life. Everything was going very fast, just few days passed between application, deadline, announcement and official news around AEGEE – less than one week.

Golden Times: What was your motivation to candidate?
Maryana: The Open Call! Considering that I was always very active in AEGEE I was thinking to continue on European level one day. I was following the mails about assistants in the CD house, and I always had a huge will to apply for it. But I can’t say that I was planning surely to candidate for CD this year. Once I’ve already applied for one of the Chair team positions. But due to a new offer at work in Lviv I withdrew my application. After that I was always a bit disappointed that I’ve never finished my AEGEE dream.

Maryana4 2014
Maryana grew up in beautiful Lviv – in the back: the opera.

Golden Times: Will you also candidate at the autumn Agora and stay the whole term?
Maryana: First of all I am preparing myself for three months of new work and tasks. And definitely I am planning to candidate at the autumn Agora. Otherwise how can you truly contribute to this work during such a short term?

Golden Times: Tell us a bit about yourself: how old are you, what did you study, what do you work now?
Maryana: I was born, studied and lived in Lviv. I am 27 years old. I studied International Economic Relations at the Lviv Academy of Commerce. Already for seven years I am working as a teacher of Economy and Management at the College of Art. In the last few years I was also working in the administration of the college, organizing and coordinating practice for students.

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Maryana and other AEGEE-Lviv members demonstrating for a democratic Ukraine last year.

Golden Times: In order to go to Brussels, do you have to give up your job? If yes, isn’t that a big sacrifice?
Maryana: To be honest I was thinking already for a while to change my work, to find and get new experience, except for my work with students, since I like to work with people. I never regarded such changes in life as a big sacrifice, since I’m in AEGEE for very long. Especially for a person like me, who got used to travel a lot, it’s not anything strange to go for a work to another country for a while. I would say that it is even a must-try at least once in your life. Plus half of my family lives abroad, so it’s not new for me. Anyhow you can always come back to your hometown, old friends and old lifestyle.

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Maryana at work

Golden Times: You have been a very active member already! What were the highlights of your AEGEE career so far?
Maryana: I would say that probably the most active period of my AEGEE life was nearly two years ago. When I was writing my application and started to count my events there were really a lot: around 40-45 attended – including 13 statutory events – and around 20 organized. The biggest AEGEE achievement, what I’m really proud of: restoring my antenna, AEGEE-Lviv. When I joined my local it was for some time already a contact antenna. First I became acting president of AEGEE-Lviv, then president, after a year in 2010 it was upgraded again to antenna. And now AEGEE-Lviv is quite famous and a successful antenna in the network, with a constant number of 60-70 members every year, an antenna which organises a few international events per year. Since 2014 I am honorary member of AEGEE-Lviv and still helping and giving advice.

Golden Times: What do you want to focus on as Network Director? Where do you see the biggest needs in the network for development and the areas where antennae need most support?
Maryana: First of all I will maintain the organization at a proper level, previous CD members did great work! After three weeks of knowledge transfer I will clarify my plan for the needs and problems in the network. Some of them are usually more or less the same each year. I would like to continue the cooperation between different working groups, interest groups and projects, a strong cooperation with our partners, and strengthening AEGEE’s identity as the biggest and strongest interdisciplinary organization for students and youth around Europe. It would also be great to help with visa issues, which still cause many of our members problems. What I also notice as a member with big experience on local level: there is a difference between local and European level life in AEGEE. All members should understand that there is not a wall or big distance between them, and they could be active at both!

Maryana8 Lviv TV 2013
Maryana being interviewed by Lviv TV in 2013.

Golden Times: You mentioned visa. Network Directors travel a lot – and also for staying in Brussels you probably will need a visa. Is that a problem?
Maryana: I am arriving to Brussels in July for the knowledge transfer, just like the rest of the team. For the beginning I will use a Polish Schengen visa. Later I will need a long-term visa anyway. Without it I can’t not only travel around the network, first of all I can’t even be in the Schengen zone more than the allowed days specified by the visa. But it won’t stop me, as other ten years of my visa story!

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For Maryana the sky is the limit!

Golden Times: Anything else you want to add?
Maryana: For many years AEGEE became for me the main goal, work and integral part of my life, even if it was always just volunteering . Our organization allowed me to grow, to challenge myself, to find true friendship, at the end it made me who I am now! This is the time to pay back! And to give all my energy and big love to the association for its work and development! My life credo: our power is in our diversity! AEGEE gives all opportunities to prove it in our lifes!