Miriam Reid is most Les Anciens members better known as Miriam Menyhartova. Under that name she was president of AEGEE-Bratislava from 1995 till 1997. This will ring a bell among many, many Les Anciens members. These were the years when AEGEE-Bratislava organised the legendary New Year’s events in Bardelovske Kupele in the High Tatra. More than 100 people went to these events in these years – and this meant half of AEGEE-Europe. You can see the consequences of these events even today: Ralli Böhne met Esther Baan there in 1996. Now they are married and have three children. Miriam did not only change her name, but also the place where she lives. Today she is Major Accounts Relationship Manager for Chartis Insurance and lives in St. Albans.

Golden Oldie: When and where were you born?

Miriam Reid: 1974, Slovakia

Golden Oldie: Where and what did you study?

Miriam Reid: I studied Business and marketing at the University of Economics in Slovakia and Management at the Open University UK. I am still working on my MBA though. I just signed up for the London school of Journalism for distance study.

Golden Oldie: When did you join AEGEE and how?

Miriam Reid: My memory is not what it used to be! I believe it was in 1993, my second year at the University, and my friends dragged me to one of the meetings to introduce me to this new student organisation which provided access to Summer Universities and other different  student meet-ups – sounded like fun!

Golden Oldie: Are you still member?

Miriam Reid: No, unfortunately not!

Golden Oldie: You are best known for being president of AEGEE-Bratislava. How did you end up in that task?

Miriam Reid: I have to admit, it was a bit of an accident! I was quite active in local AEGEE at that point, travelled to events and helped with organising a few events myself, but never dreamed of holding any official position. Jaromir Novak, the current president at that time, resigned from his position after his term was up and we had no clear nominations for the new president even on the day of the election. We have been sitting in our office going through electing different positions and when the question of the future president came up, somebody threw my name to the arena. People got quite enthusiastic about the idea and they voted. I was suddenly voted the president of the antenna!  Nonetheless to say, I never regretted it!

Golden Oldie: Well, that was a great sign of support! What where the biggest challenges and rewards of this task?

Miriam Reid: To start with, we had been a bunch of enthusiastic students organising interesting events. We had not been used to any formalities before. However, the longer I was with AEGEE, the bigger we became. We had more members and the events took up more of a serious side. I remember organising a seminar, where the President of the Slovak Republic had an opening speech and I had to speak after him – well, that felt challenging indeed! But the rewards have been numerous – not only the obvious ones, like travelling and meeting new people and learning languages or new skills – but less obvious ones like gaining confidence in what I was doing and taking responsibilities for crucial decisions. This is something I still use enormously in my current career.

Golden Oldie: People remember most the New Year’s events in  Bardejovske Kupele. How do you feel that you organised the most popular New Year events ever of the network?

Miriam Reid: I know, those events are something which still resonates with people up till now – how is that possible? I think we were really lucky to be able to get our hands on an empty, mostly unused historical spa building in the beautiful resort of Bardejovske Kupele in East Slovakia – and take it over! It gave us an option to have complete freedom for a week to use facilities and party as hard as we could! The daytimes are mostly hazy, I have to say… I remember it was usually beautiful winter weather, snowy, once the temperature dropped to minus 20 centigrade… Some people managed to squeeze in some skiing to start with, but the majority of us was mostly spending our evening and nights wine-tasting and celebrating. And of course, there were the famous corridor parties!

Golden Oldie: Tell us a funny story of your AEGEE time.

Miriam Reid: I come from a bilingual family, Hungarian/Slovak, but never managed to spend too much time in Hungary, as I have no family left there. One year I signed up for a Summer University in Hungary to learn more about the country – but did not admit in the questionnaire that I spoke the language already! It was very funny to arrive and be able to listen to the exchange of comments of the local members on the individual attendees while registering – I remember I have learnt quite a lot of interesting things about a length of my legs! J To be fair, I let the cat out of the bag the next day – didn’t want to cause the organisers any more embarrassment!

Golden Oldie: What was your favourite AEGEE event?

Miriam Reid: I loved the Agora in Amsterdam in 1995 – but to be honest, it might be caused by the fact I was very much in love with a Dutch guy at that point of time!

Golden Oldie: What were your best and worst moments in AEGEE?

Miriam Reid: The worst moment was when we started to attract the wrong crowd of people, and this was specifically the case of the New Year events. People who expected luxury and formality instead of student corridor parties! One year I spent lot of time dealing with a moaning bunch of such people and it taught me to be very careful about what kind of PR we give to our events! I think the best part is still ongoing – and it is the long term friendships I have build, people I am still in contact with, the network which literally changed my life and career.

Golden Oldie: Which AEGEE member impressed you a lot?

Miriam Reid: It has to be Jaromir Novak – Jaro was the president of our antennae before me, and I believe he made a big difference in motivating people and bringing fresh blood to AEGEE, which then allowed me to coordinate all the talent and knowledge of those newcomers to create so many great and memorable events.

Golden Oldie: Any things you regret that you haven’t done them in AEGEE?

Miriam Reid: I could have definitely squeezed in more European events! And should have joined Les Anciens much sooner!

Golden Oldie: Did AEGEE influence your career decision?

Miriam Reid: It did give me the confidence to take my education and the things I learn in school and try out few industries before I settled in my current job – I worked anything from retail to energy business before I finally settled for finance. I was not afraid to try crazy things just to see if I can manage – like getting my welding certificate in Denmark!

Golden Oldie: As a child, what did you dream to be your future job after growing up?

Miriam Reid: I wanted to be a writer – and hopefully a part of that dream has happened. Writing is still my hobby and I have my own blog – although quite neglected at times due to other commitments – and contribute to lots of magazine and newspapers and online writing platforms.

Golden Oldie: What are you doing now as main occupation?

Miriam Reid: I work as a relationship manager for major corporate clients in insurance business. It gives me a chance to meet a lot of  big names in lots of different industries – anything from telecommunications to airlines.

Golden Oldie: Are you single/married/married with 5 children?

Miriam Reid: I am married and have 3 children – 2 step daughters aged 12 and 9 and one daughter aged 3. it is quite a girly household, needless to say!

Golden Oldie: How do you feel about being partly Hungarian, partly Slovak?

Miriam Reid: I love it, I am very proud of my roots and I think coming from a mixed background is a blessing – it gives you an understanding and openness which is a special asset in current multicultural environment. My little daughter has 3 passports at the moment – Slovak, English and New Zealand – her dad is a kiwi – and I want her to treasure her multicultural heritage as well.

Golden Oldie: Which languages do you speak?

Miriam Reid: I think I am pretty fluent in Slovak, Hungarian and English! As every Slovak person over 30 I am very good in Czech and Russian, although my azbuka is a bit rusty by now. I have also learnt decent Dutch at the university. I also studied German and Polish for a couple of years but would hardly call myself fluent in those. I still have aspirations to manage Spanish, if I get around it.

Golden Oldie: Where do you live now? What do you like/dislike about your city?

Miriam Reid: I work in London and live just north of London, in a lovely old Roman city of St Albans. I like the buzz of a big city and it can’t get much bigger then London – and also love the way it is so cosmopolitan – it is quite easy to be a foreigner in London. What I do not like is the constant commuting. The transport system is not great even on a good day!

Golden Oldie: What are your best and least liked cities?

Miriam Reid: I love Asia and would love to live in Singapore or Hong Kong. I can imagine myself living the expat life there easily! From Europe I like Dutch cities for every-day life or historic, sunny Mediterranean cities for weekend breaks. Budapest is a long term favourite as well. I do not really have least like cities – wherever I travel I can get enthusiastic about something – they have at least one good local dish everywhere I go!

Golden Oldie: What is the furthest place you ever went to?

Miriam Reid: Not sure – could it be Bali? Need to check the map!

Golden Oldie: Which country would you like to visit in the near future?

Miriam Reid: I have never visited the US – I know it sounds strange, but more I think about it, more I believe I should add it on my list of countries to visit in near future! And we are planning a trip to New Zealand once our little one is a bit older.

Golden Oldie: What are your hobbies?

Miriam Reid: Cooking, travelling – and of coursed reading and writing.

Golden Oldie: What are you most afraid of?

Miriam Reid: Spiders – yuck! But seriously, the only thing which really worries me is that anything bad could happen to people I love the most.

Golden Oldie: What’s never missing in your fridge?

Miriam Reid: Cheese, cheese, cheese – any origin, any quantities, any taste – everything goes! And I am a big chorizo lover.

Golden Oldie: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?

Miriam Reid: I can’t sit still for long, so always looking for a next new project. I am very social, I love people and being part of a nice community – but at the same time I can get very misanthropic when I need a day off! I am loyal, responsible and I hate injustice – yes, I am a Libra! OK, it is more than 5 words – but this about sums it up!

In case you want to read a contemporary report about one of the New Year’s events, click here.