The Lithuanian train to the NetCom

Fast and precise, many carriages of experience, and a will to provide a good service – in other words, “To serve and protect”. The train metaphor matches the personality of Karolina Mazetyte from Kaunas, candidate for the Network Commission, who will introduce herself and her programme in the following interview for The AEGEEan.

Karolina, can you tell something about yourself? What do you like to do apart from AEGEE?

The words that I think describe me the best are communicative, ambitious, lively, and optimistic. Currently I am getting my Bachelor’s degree in Political Sciences and trying to write my thesis on the role of social networks in the Egyptian revolution. I love everything that is related to art, because it makes your life extraordinary. I am especially passionate about photography and I hope to organize a photo exhibition one day!

For being in AEGEE for just a bit more than one year, you have an excellent curriculum! How did you collect so much experience so fast?

Thanks! Well, for me, it is not about time, but it is what you do with your time. You should remember to count and take as much experience as possible every month. My favourite saying is “Take everything and give back everything what you can now, don’t wait for tomorrow”. I applied it in AEGEE, being a president of my local, attending thematic events like the EuroArab Project in Krakow, being a board member of the Environmental Working Group, being a Subcommissioner in the Network Commission (NetCom) and going to such events like the Planning Meeting in Poznań, which are all unique opportunities to get to know a lot about AEGEE in a short time.

Which was the biggest lesson you learnt in this term as Koen’s Subcommissioner?

I think the biggest lessons relate to how the Network Commission works, both internally and externally, and helping the locals. Going with Koen on a NetCom trip towards some of the Northern locals and researching this part of the Network has taught me a lot about the issues in the Northern region. My involvement in Network Meeting (NWM) Tallinn gave me a valuable experience on how to structure and organise a NWM.

The programme in your candidature is very well-structured, but also very ambitious… made up of 13 points. What are your priorities?

My priorities will be focusing on thematic events, mainly by strengthening ties with projects, Working Groups, and externals; therefore strengthening this part of the Network. As motivation and attracting new members are the biggest problems in the region, I would like to focus on motivational events in order to activate members throughout the Northern area, and close cooperation between locals to share best practices and materials in order to make a region-specific Public Relations (PR) strategy.

Classic question: Quantity or quality? Will you focus on increasing the number of antennae or strengthen the existing ones?

For sure we should focus on quality. The aim of AEGEE is not to have as many locals or people as possible. We strive for European integration, democracy, mobility, a better education, and most of all, a better Europe.

It is important what every antenna can give to AEGEE, so my first goal would be to further strengthen the locals in the Northern area. Only when we are strong and have clear goals, we can expand. History teaches us that without this as precondition, it might be possible to start new contacts, but many of them will die sooner or later.

From my experience as a Subcommissioner I do know there are places that have the possibility to start a new antenna, and of course, I would further research these possibilities. If I am assured of the quality and continuity of a new possible contact, then of course I would do everything in my power to help them become part of our AEGEE family.

Which projects do you have in mind for Scandinavia?

I want to work closely together with the Action Agenda Coordination Team in order to work on the thematic field. I am aware that in the end neither of us will decide for the locals which projects they should work on, but locals themselves need to decide what project suits them best and how they want to contribute to AEGEE. Pushing a project will only lead to a local not fully interested or convinced in organising an event. That is why I see myself in more of a guiding role, explaining to them what possibilities there are and how they can cooperate with projects, Working Groups, or external partners.

Another candidate from the Northern Region proposed and organized Skype meetings to boost the cooperation in the area. Did you attend them? What is your feedback to this initiative?

I attended the meetings and I like the initiative a lot, but this is only a part of the many initiatives that are being taken in the Northern region. NetCom already felt the need of further integration of this particular area some years ago, that is why Scandinavia is currently a focus area.

As Koen’s Subcommissioner, I have been closely working with him a lot behind the scenes on researching the current problems in this part of the network, preparing bits of the NWM Tallinn and even going with him on a NetCom trip to some of the Northern locals to be in direct contact with them and talking directly about the issues person to person. We are now at a point where we found out what is needed to strengthen this part of the network. In my opinion, actual cooperation is only a slight part of it, as the main issues are lack of motivation and promotion in order to attract new people and activate them. So now we need to make the steps to go from talking to finally acting, and work together to solve these issues!

How do you plan to combine your responsibilities as a Network Commissioner with sustaining the development of Kaunas to full antenna?

Kaunas will already upgrade to Contact Antenna in Enschede, so the first steps are already taken to develop it. I am not alone there. Many new members are very enthusiastic and would love to get started, so I will need just to keep the overview. Furthermore, the things I want to achieve for the Northern area are applicable for Kaunas as well. Also, Kaunas will benefit for my plans about thematic events, motivational events for the Northern area, and Regional Training Courses (RTCs). I am absolutely confident that I will have enough time and energy for both tasks!

Are there already some people that you would like with you in this journey as your Subcommissioners?

I did not think about this yet, as I wanted to focus on my current work as a Subcommissioner, write my programme, and get elected. Of course, I would be open to anyone who would like to help out, as there is a lot of work to do in this area! Koen, the current Network Commissioner, already said he would like to continue helping me with the Scandinavian focus area if I am elected. But right now I hope people are more interested in reading the programme of each candidate, because that matters much more to the future of the network than the possible team of Subcommissioners that will be formed later on anyway.

Direct as a train, again. The AEGEEan wishes Karolina to arrive to the stations she strives for!

Written by Martina Zanero, AEGEE-Torino