Theijs van Welij has been to 14 Agoras. The former president of AEGEE-Europe and current chairman of the Foundation AEGEE Trust Fund has only positive words of the organisation of the Agora in Alicante. The Golden Oldie asked the Les Anciens member about his impressions of the Agora and the new and old CD.

Golden Oldie: Theijs, you were in Alicante. How many Agoras have you been to, including Alicante?

Theijs Van Welij: All from Bucuresti in spring 2003 until Alicante, except Zaragoza in autumn 2003 and Magusa and Kyiv in 2009. That would be 14. Perhaps I missed some more. In Ljubljana, Leiden and Aachen I dropped in for the European night, while in the past year I’ve been attending Agorae to give presentations about the Foundation AEGEE Trust Fund (FATF).

Golden Oldie: What are your strongest impressions of this Agora?

Theijs Van Welij: It reminded me of Agora Eskisehir: active participation of delegates and everything smoothly organised. The cherry on the cake: highly qualified candidates for commissions and the Comité Directeur, resulting in exciting elections.

Golden Oldie: Theijs, you were president of AEGEE-Europe and therefore can evaluate the work of CDs. What do you think of the work of Manos’ team?

Theijs Van Welij: I appreciate that Manos and his team have an eye for delivery of their planned objectives by evaluating their activity plan in public. On the other hand you discover that the Web2.0 generation is not aware of the past, resulting in not thoroughly checked proposals and decisions. The thing that worries me most is that the CD is eliminating the representation of European bodies at the voting, by transforming Working Groups in subordinated Committees. Like the CD is becoming a politburo, that isn’t pleased with a different European sound other than its own. I heard stories of Working Group members that in the coulisses Working Groups were urged to remain silent when controversial proposals were being discussed in the plenary.

Golden Oldie: The elections were very competitive. What do you think about the candidatures, content-wise?

Theijs Van Welij: A lot more qualified candidates than available places, and most answers on questions reflected the combination of people who know what they talk about in combination with AEGEE spirit.

Golden Oldie: What’s your impression of the newly elected CD?

Theijs Van Welij: A current CD member said: they are even more competent than us. Personally I’m happy these people have three months to get to know each other and work on a common plan, before their term starts in the late summer.

Golden Oldie: The newly elected president-in-waiting, Alfredo Sellitti, wants to focus more on external relations. What do you think of that? Has AEGEE there a deficit?

Theijs Van Welij: Why is the headoffice in Brussels? Exactly to do the advocacy work! Many projects have published recently wonderful results booklets, with outcomes useful for EU and national policies. Manos does a great job, Alfredo will be able to jump in the political dimension. As former CD member Dan Luca once said: Presidents speak with Presidents. And there are those Brussels-based AEGEE alumni that help the Comité Directeur to knock at the right door in the institutions.

Golden Oldie: It’s the first CD ever without anyone from Germany or Netherlands… What do you think of the geographical distribution of CD members?

Theijs Van Welij: The Mediterranean blood is perfect to work on relations, the diplomatic side of CD work. The Baltic presence is a nice balance to throw ice in heated discussions.

Golden Oldie: The Spanish locals and candidates proved to be very strong. Did you expect that? And what do you think about the fact that Spain is now the force number one in Europe?

Theijs Van Welij: Spain has been at the background, it’s nice they are back at European level. Spanish employers don’t appreciate voluntary work, for AEGEEans it’s an escape from the economic crises and get substantial intercultural working experience. It is a personal investment in the future of themselves and AEGEE.

Golden Oldie: There were also lots of proposals. How happy are you with the voting results? What would you have wished differently?

Theijs Van Welij: History repeats. Things voted upon now where already introduced in the past, but abolished some years ago. We should avoid AEGEE is becoming too bureaucratic.

Golden Oldie: The visual identity proposal with a new logo at its core failed for the second time. What do you think of that?

Theijs Van Welij: It’s a matter of strategy. Enough people gave input, it’s up to the proposer to learn or reject the feedback with which one can obtain enough support.

Golden Oldie: What was your impression of the local organisation – organisers, venue, logistics, lodging, food, parties?

Theijs Van Welij: Simply excellent! I wished the Agora where we celebrated the 25th anniversary had put that much effort in the organisation.

Golden Oldie: You were presenting the FATF. What kind of feedback did you get about that? Is there high demand for FATF money?

Theijs Van Welij: People appreciate the fundraising experience FATFies have. That’s why I gave additionally a workshop, as last the European School 2 lacked such topics. With educated people, there is no high demand for FATF money. So I wish Mirek, the Academy and AEGEE-Zaragoza success with the organisation of a Fundraising European School next September.