Many people say that the Network Commission is AEGEE’s most important European body – next to the CD. But what is a Network Commissioner actually doing? The Golden Times asked Mattia Abis, who is in charge of more AEGEE branches than any other Network Commissioner, about his work – and also the upcoming Network Meeting in Salerno in April. “NetCom never sleeps and there is a lot of work to do!”, Mattia said.

Mattia Abis Agora
Mattia Abis at the Agora Zaragoza

Golden Times: Mattia, how many days per week do you work for the NetCom?
Mattia Abis (smiles): Well, I work for NetCom 24/7 and I also didn’t have any break during weekend or Christmas holidays: I was working also on 31st of December.

Golden Times: And how many hours per day in average?
Mattia: It depends on the period: sometimes we have a lot of things to manage, other times less and it’s up to us to decide how to invest that time. In average I could say it is at least four hours per day. NetCom never sleeps and there is a lot of work to do!

Golden Times: How many and which locals do you take care of?
Mattia: Currently I’m taking care of 29 locals: all Italian ones, AEGEE-Valletta and the new Contact in Lugano, Switzerland. I have 26 Antennae, 3 Contact Antennae and one Contact.

Medcom Audit Netcom
Just elected: MedCo, Audit and NetCom

Golden Times: How does a typical day as Network Commissioner look like?
Mattia: This is a funny question; Mine looks like: many hours of meditation and relax before open the inbox panel, more hours in front of a laptop with a printed copy of the CIA on the left, a package of cigarettes on the right and a lot of post-it reminders on the wall in front of me. In general my main tasks are continuous communication with my team, my sub-commies, with Beáta and other CD members, contacting my weakest locals, trying to solve different problems within my area, proposing solutions, giving advice, reminding them of deadlines – and trying to involve my locals in the European level of AEGEE.

Mattia thinking
No, Mattia is not sleeping. He is dreaming of his locals!

Golden Times: Some say that NetCom work has become more adminstrative in the past few years. Is it true? What kind of reports do you have to collect and deliver?
Mattia: I don’t think that our work is administrative and I don’t know how it was in the past years, the only report I am collecting is a monthly report from my locals and I have to deliver the two reports as requested by the CIA: my personal Activity Report of the month and a local status overview. Of course, after the Agoras I am also sharing the Activity Plan with my locals, this means two in total during my whole term. So, it’s not a lot of bureaucracy. It doesn’t take a lot of time if I take notes of everything step by step.

Golden Times: Which tasks do you enjoy most, which ones least?
Mattia: Of course, opening a new local gives you a joy and a satisfaction that you cannot find in other activities of your job: you are protagonist of the birth of something new! Maybe there are other things that make you happy, like organizing your Network Meeting, but I am still doing it so I will tell you later! The worst ones are for sure helping a local that calls you because it’s almost closing and you have to try to save it, or discovering huge proplems in a local and you don’t know how to start dealing with it… In general I’m feeling part of all the locals I have, it means that you get always satisfactions and frustrations.

Mattia in Udine2
Mattia at work – at the Regional Training Course in Udine

Golden Times: How do you mainly stay in touch with your locals? Mail, phone, Skype, travels?
Mattia: All these channels! If it’s about official communication, I always use our mailing list and our Facebook group for board members; I think I’ve never sent any personal e-mail to any local, except one to communicate that they got or didn’t get the Network Meeting. I’m used to call them, since most part of my locals are in Italy, we have many Skype meetings, I text them messages, chat with them on Facebook and sometimes it happens that I take a flight.

Golden Times: How often do you travel and visit your locals? I guess living on an island doesn’t make it easy…
Mattia: After my election in Zaragoza I had two NetCom trips. In November I went to Pisa where I took part in their Local Training Course as trainer and I could meet their members, also people from Bologna, Firenze, Genova and Siena locals and three subcommies of my team. In December I went to the Regional Training Course in Udine, I took part in that event as trainer. I met people from a very big list of locals and many subcommies. From there I directly flew to the NetCom meeting in Brussels. I can say I’m visiting them once per month – and living in Sardinia is not an obstacle… In fact I’m waiting for 800 AEGEEans for the Agora in Cagliari!

Mattia in Udine
Mattia – explaining AEGEE in Udine

Golden Times: You will have a Network Meeting soon, where you will also see your locals. Where and when will it be and what’s your role in preparing it?
Mattia: My Network Meeting will be from 10th till 13th of April, right before Spring Agora Patra, in Salerno. It is a beautiful southern Italian city by the seaside, a splendid location for our meeting. My role is to decide wich local within the candidates will host the NWM, the contents of it, the trainers and the programme of trainings and sessions; on the other hand, the hosting local AEGEE-Salerno manages the logistics and financial part of the event.

Golden Times: And what will be the focus of the Network Meeting?
Mattia: It will be for sure the collaboration between the locals that will take part in the meeting: best practices, new ways of collaboration, creation of a common project. Of course there will be also some trainings and sessions about our Strategic Plan, event planning and Agora preparation. About the last point, it will be organized with discussions about proposals and candidates’ programmes: someone was complaining about the delegates’ level of involvement during last Agora – they didn’t ask a lot of questions – and I want to see them prepared!

Mattia in Pisa
Mattia at the Local Training Course in Pisa

Golden Times: What are the biggest needs of your area?
Mattia: I would say: collaboration, European dimension, initiative and a pinch of bravery. But it also this depends on the local, all of them are very different and there is not a unique medicine to all their aspirations.

Golden Times: How much of your work is troubleshooting or helping locals in crisis? Are there actually some serious cases in your area?
Mattia: There was and will always be trouble or locals in crisis. It is normal, the world in general lives under these conditions. I cannot say anything about cases that happened because, maybe the readers don’t know this, after the election Netcommies and all Commission members sign a non-disclosure agreement where it is written that we cannot spread sensible data or talk about specific cases. This is very important since locals must be assured that we are trusted people with whom they can talk freely and without thinking that others will get to know their business. If we start to talk about our cases, NetCom will lose its role.

Mattia in Foggia
Mattia visiting AEGEE-Foggia

Golden Times: Your fellow Network Commissioner Holger Schmitt announced that he wants to found many new locals. Do you also do that? If yes, where?
Mattia: Every Network Commissioner has a perfect panoramic of his realm, if Holger said this it means he can do it and it is in the interest of our network. If I’m not wrong many of the locals he wants to found already existed in the past: it’s good to react and spread again AEGEE in those cities. The network development has two streets: the first one is to found new locals, the second one is strengthen the ones you have! In my case, after I opened Lugano, I am more focused on the second one since I also have three Contact Antennae and other weak ones. Why open new locals if I have to preserve the ones I already have?

Golden Times: Do you see yourself as an enforcer of CD decisions or Agora decisions? Or more as advocate of the locals?
Mattia: Tricky question! Of course I am an enforcer of Agora decisions, we are voting on those decisions and I respect them. About CD and locals, I have a sidetrack position between these two elements and I must be neutral as is recommended in the format of my Commission. When there will be a dispute between these elements I will enforce the CIA and I will contest indiscriminately both sides, if they don’t agree each other, always looking for a mediated solution.

Mattia in Foggia presentation
Mattia – presentation time in Foggia

Golden Times: Anything else you would like to add regarding your work as Network Commissioner?
Mattia: There would be too many things to add… I will just say that is seriously a sensible role in our association, it is difficult to understand if you are not part of the Network Commission. Some people think that it doesn’t have a defined role and find difficult to understand what we are doing: I want to tell them that our role is to take their hand and lead them in an association that is always changing and where they would be disconnected without us.

Golden Times: Finally, a few words about you. Where are you from, how old are you, what do you study?
Mattia: I’m from Cabras, a fishermen’s village on the Sardinian western coast. I am 26 years old since Halloween and I am always celebrating my birthday during Autumn Agoras. I am finishing, if AEGEE allows me, my studies in Philology!

Mattia in Foggia gym
Mattia in the gym in Foggia

Golden Times: When did you join AEGEE and what were the main highlights of your AEGEE career so far?
Mattia: I joined AEGEE-Cagliari in the beginning of 2012, two years ago! I was kind of a member of the local before, because I was living with the former president Ousmane Dieng and I had a knowledge transfer about every issue already one year before I joined the association. My highlights are the little things that made me happy: joining AEGEE-Cagliari, taking part in the first meetings, having the opportunity to lead a local that was a Ferrari after a few months, being trainer, meeting people, being the best participant in the Summer University of AEGEE-Ljubliana, putting my signature on a proposal, getting elected as Netcommie and writing AEGEE-Cagliari’s candidature for the autumn Agora 2014.

AEGEE-Cagliari football team
Teamplayer: Mattia is member of the AEGEE-Cagliari football team

Golden Times: What motivated you to become Network Commissioner?
Mattia: My local had not taken part in European activities for years, there was a Network Meeting in Bergamo and nobody could go… I understood it was up to me to represent them there so I went. I got very active after that moment, I saw I could give a contribution to other locals since they were asking me a lot of advice. Then I told my feelings to my predecessor Claudio Armandi and he asked me to join his subcommie team… I didn’t know that after five months I would give my speech in Zaragora. And now I’m here.

…because he is a proud member of AEGEE-Cagliari!

Golden Times: What hobbies do you have aside from AEGEE?
Mattia (smiles): Football, fishing, writing, rowing, talking about politics and organizing pub crawls

Golden Times: Please finish the sentence: “AEGEE is for me…”
Mattia: Enthusiasm!

Golden Times: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
Mattia: Passioned, extroverted, meditative, irritable and vindictive!