“Olga who?” Most delegates did not know the name of Olga Rivero Menéndez, when she candidated for the Netcom at Agora Cagliari. However, on the stage she took the hearts and minds of the participants by storm and got the highest election result of all candidates. Six weeks have passed since the Agora; Olga has settled well into her new job and took part already in her new function in the very successful Network Meeting in Zaragoza. The Golden Times spoke with the biotechnology student about the NWM, her life as Network Commissioner and her NetCom area, better known as La Nave – the spaceship.

agoracagliari468GT: Olga, how successful was Network meeting Zaragoza?
Olga Rivero Menéndez: I personally think that it was one of the most successful Network Meetings organised in our area in the last years. In terms of organisation it was brilliant: lodging, meals and the venue where the workshops took place were carefully chosen, the organisers were always friendly and helpful and provided amazing coffee breaks – AEGEE-Zaragoza does the best Fundraising I know! Regarding the content, I think we are getting close to the kind of NWM that members from our area want, and that’s really a motivation to keep on working and improving!

GT: How many people from how many locals were there?
Olga: There were approximately 70 members, counting as well the organisers, from 15 locals. There were some locals of the area missing, but I hope that we will be able to count on them next time!

2014 NWM Zaragoza
The organisers of AEGEE-Zaragoza obviously had fun at their Network Meeting.

GT: Was there some focus in the programme on certain topics? Which discussions or workshops got results that surprised you or made you specially happy?
Olga: We didn’t focus on a certain thing, but on all the topics we thought could be interesting and important for the locals in our area. We’ve also been leaving some hours for an Open Space, so if there is some issue that somebody wants to comment, there is time for it. The session that made me happy the most was the one about Erasmus: everyone was so involved and sharing their experiences, and I felt that everybody left the room a with much deeper knowledge than when they came in. And from what other facilitators have said, this was a general sensation through the whole event!

GT: Which role did the 30th Anniversary played? Did some locals say that they would like to do a 30th Anniversary activity?
Olga: We talked about the 30th Anniversary during the open session, when some locals stated their desire of sending their application for being part The Night of the 7 Antennae.

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Antonija Parat represented the CD at NWM Zaragoza

GT: What would you change in the programme for next NWM?
Olga: What we’ve been trying to do in last NWMs is reducing the hours of workshops where just the facilitators talk and participants listen for the benfit of more debating and sharing. I think we still have to work on making debates more efficient and productive, but I think we are really close to making it! And we are also trying to have parallel sessions when a topic is more appropiate for fresh members, so oldies don’t feel like losing their time.

GT: There is also the big Renove event each autumn. Is that similar to a NWM?
Olga: Renove has little to do with NWM. Renove is a big event, its basic purpose being to motivate and activate the newest members that maybe had just gone on an SU that summer. This is achieved by gathering almost 200 AEGEEans from all over the area that want to meet after not seeing each other for some months while doing outdoor activities and, of course, having some sessions that are more basic than the ones that a NWM would include in its programme. Renove and NWM are complementary types of events but, in the end, both of them have the same outcome: they both recharge your AEGEE spirit battery to the fullest!

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Olga at Renove IV. Picture by Ksenia Lupanova

GT: How were trainers, staff and workshop leaders of the NWM? Anyone who impressed you specially?
Olga: I have already talked about the wonderful staff team, so I will focus on talking about the trainers. I wouldn’t be able to say who impressed me more of all of them, because they all actually did. We were so lucky to have facilitators, who have a lot of experience in training and know how to transmit it to the ones learning from them. Even I learnt a lot of things from each session in which I was present! It is such a gift to count on them to make NWM’s quality increase to its maximum.

GT: How was the local organisation of the NWM?
Olga: If I could grade them from 0 to 10, I would give them a 20!

GT: On the Internet there were photos of crazy parties… So the social programme was good?
Olga: Partying in Zaragoza is always a synonym of a crazy night. The social programme was amazing! On Friday it was a bit of a suit up night, everybody got fancy dressed up for the opening ceremony. On Saturday we celebrated a Celebrities party, where people dressed up as famous people! Imagine how fun was that! There were even some Paul Smits…

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Two big events are coming up in the area of Olga: the EPM, organised by AEGEE-Burgos…

GT: How do you enjoy your task as Network Commissioner so far?
Olga: It was after the NWM when I started to work officially as Netcommie, and it has been wonderful so far. Nobody lied when they said it is hard work that takes a lot of hours, but the more you work, the more satisfaction you get from what you’ve been doing. It has been a great first month holding this position!

GT: Which targets did you set yourself for the term?
Olga: We have quite a lot of different goals for the term, but for the first two months the most important one is to make sure that locals feel comfortable with us. We want to gain their trust and make them feel that we are present in their daily life, so if there’s something going wrong they don’t hesitate to share it with us. We want to be a proactive team towards the locals we are in charge, because we think it is the basic step to take before implementing new ideas or developing new strategies.

GT: The antennae from your area call themselves La Nave. Why?
Olga: Glad you asked this question! From what I know, I wasn’t a member yet, the name of La Nave was born some years ago, when the mailing list we use for communicating was called subealanave – which would be translated as “get on board on our spaceship”. The name was a joke that came from the fact that all non-AEGEE people saw us a bit like a sect, like there were some aliens that were looking to get us on board on their spaceship. It gradually developed to calling our Facebook group and our area La Nave – the spaceship – in an informal way. There’s even a kind of building in Santander that looks like a spaceship where every AEGEEan from the area takes pictures when they go there!

2014 Agorasturias
…and the Agora in Oviedo, also known as AgorAsturias!

GT: Aren’t you afraid that a regional identity might develop?
Olga: We actually talked about the regions topic again in the Open Session of the NWM. I really don’t think that our area has the desire of becoming fixed: we just think we all work in a similar way, we enjoy and a get a lot of positive things from the cooperation between us and we normally find it useful to row in the same direction all together. But this doesn’t mean that we want to be a closed and fixed region, as it has been proved before that we are able to adapt to every situation without any kind of problem.

GT: A president of a Spanish antenna said recently: “Olga is caring more about the situation or little problems of the antennae than previous Network Commissioners”. What do you think about that?
Olga: It’s a very nice compliment because that’s what we are striving for the most right now in the team. I hope we can continue this way!


Read more about the Network Meeting in The AEGEEan magazine: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/magazine/2014/12/08/autumn-network-meeting-zaragoza-winds-of-change/