I am pleased to introduce you someone that needs no introduction – Olimpia Pârje from AEGEE-Bucureşti, candidate for the presidency of AEGEE-Europe.
Running for President of AEGEE-Europe is not an easy decision, what made you take such a responsibility upon yourself?
Indeed, it was not an easy decision at all. The idea was floating around in my head for a few months already before EBM, after familiarizing myself with the daily tasks and realizing I would really enjoy doing the work of president and could even do it well! But the definitive moment had to be when I was talking to a friend who told me I should not be afraid to take up the challenge if I really wanted it and if I felt ready. So here I am, taking up probably the biggest challenge I’ve ever had.
If you win the elections, tell me three things you would change about AEGEE and three things you would keep?
You can find most of my ideas in my online candidature, but I will name a few of them here. I would work on a proper reform for Antennae Criteria with the Network and the rest of the Comité Directeur. I would also work on our financial sustainability – I would reduce administrative costs and increase support for internal education. Most of all I would work on changing the difficulty with which we as AEGEE define ourselves by proposing a simple sentence to introduce ourselves – “AEGEE is in the business of creating European citizens”.
I would love to keep all the active people we have now in AEGEE for as long as possible. I would keep the structures that work very well such the Commissions and the Academy. The very good changes we have recently adopted such as making the Network Meetings (NWM) mandatory, contribution to the Strategic Plan, the new EBM. And I would keep AEGEE actively involved in the European agenda within our platforms (i.e. European Youth Forum – YFJ ) and within the European public sphere.
Currently you are a member of the Action Agenda Coordination Team (ACT). What made you choose this and how do you think this will affect your candidature?
ACT as we call it now, was the logical choice after my Network Commission (NetCom) term. Being my last year of Master’s I was thinking I could not be too involved in AEGEE anymore for a few months (was I ever wrong!) and wanted to contribute more to the thematic part of AEGEE. As I have been in contact with locals as NetCommie, working with them on behalf of ACT would be an easy transition and would really give me the chance to encourage our locals to contribute more actively to the Strategic Plan. This ACT team is more of a trial run as we are doing many new things and laying down all the necessary steps so that the next team will work smoothly, without the small bumps that we have had with the forming of the team (mostly organisation-wise). We were also working in the back-office of EBM Izmir, providing support and helping with the drafting of the new Action Agenda. Being in ACT, after having been involved in Working Groups and even projects has given me more insight into the thematic part as I have said – and this kind of overview, combined with the network overview I gained from the NetCom, mostly as speaker, has helped me to get a fuller picture of AEGEE itself.
Tell me in three sentences five things people don’t know about you and how that would help you during these elections?
One thing could be how I deal with stress – I have been in quite some stressful situations in my personal life as well, and have had to handle some when tension between people was very high and all it took for things to turn into a serious conflict was one spark. The worst thing that I can do when confronted with stress I believe is that I get a bit cranky and do not enjoy everything as much anymore. But I think I can live with that and I feel prepared for the kind of stress CD life could provide. I have lived abroad for my Erasmus year in Greece so I am also used to socializing and talking to international people and local people in all kinds of circles (even when we do not speak the same language, or English sometimes), so this could come quite in handy meeting all the different kinds of people in conferences and events where I would be representing AEGEE. Also, I have been working full-time for the past four months in a professional NGO as an intern and had really good insight regarding fundraising, project evaluation and other management tips, group dynamics in a small office the size of an apartment and I feel this experience of a relaxed working environment where we would have the occasional discussion about corruption and visa issues and etc., is a great example to start picturing CD office hours.
Describe in five words what you would say if someone were to walk up to you and ask you why Europe needs AEGEE?
Because we are the expression of the true European spirit.
The biggest lesson that AEGEE has taught you?
When to speak up and when to shut up. I have learned to argue my ideas and make my points better but also when to stop a discussion from going in circles or realize when I am wrong. I like to argue a point on all its sides and expect for the other person to do the same and this can go on for quite some time. What I have truly learned is where to stop discussing and understand the others’ points even when conflicting with my personal ideas.
Your life motto is?
It has to be “Carpe Diem”. Not because I am always the “go for it” kind of person, but because it is a reminder of the fact that life is short and we really should live it to the fullest, without regrets.
If AEGEE was something you could carry on a daily basis (example: keys), what would that be?
My wristwatch. Because it is the thing I look at most often, have it with me almost all the time, and it reminds me that I need to get up and do some work if I want results.
Written by Andra Toma, AEGEE-Bucureşti
Photos from Olimpia Pârje’s archives