She is a well-known face in AEGEE, she was the driving force behind three statutory events, and she is known for her quote “I love typing!” Despite the fact that she had to overcome some difficulties during her term, she kept working hard and stayed positive, which shows her great dedication to AEGEE. This month Sygrit Andringa (AEGEE-Groningen), former Secretary of the Agora/European Boards’ Meeting (EBM), looks back on her term and shares her experiences.
The AEGEEan: What was your motivation to run for the position of Secretary of the Agora in Struga?
Sygrit: After enjoying AEGEE for quite a while, travelling all over Europe, being a board member of AEGEE-Groningen and different local committees I felt it was time to give back to AEGEE. In Struga I was Yvonne Antonovic’s assistant secretary, but she had already convinced me, or let us say begged politely before to run for Secretary of the Agora/EBM. Since I liked typing, I liked the Agora and I thought it would be interesting to see it from another point of view and contribute a bit to the organisational aspect of AEGEE, I decided to do so.
The only thing people see is you are typing a lot on stage during the Agora. Tell us a bit about the work of the Secretary of the Agora. What were your tasks?
Officially it is mainly typing at the Agora of course, but in practice it is a lot more. As a Chair Team member you help with the preparation phase. In my term I got the chance to contribute quite a lot to the team and to do a lot of different tasks. Furthermore, as Secretary of the Agora you make sure that the minutes are delivered, and you make sure that you have enough secretary assistants. Also, you are usually the AEGEE fair responsible on behalf of the Chair Team. And of course at the Agora itself you are cooperating with other members of the team. You are trying to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible, in cooperation with the Juridical Commission (JC), the Comité Directeur (CD) and the local organizers. And after the ‘fun’ part of the Agora begins, you need to work out the minutes. It is not something I particularly like, but all the other work and experiences from the Chair Team make up for it.
Can you tell us a bit about the teamwork in the Chair Team, and about your motivation to run for the position of the Secretary again at Agora Enschede?
All teams gave me a lot of great, fun, memorable moments, but of course, as in most teams, also some moments that were not so fun. But it was all worth it in the end! I decided to run again because I felt my work was not done yet. After the first term you feel that you know how things work, but then it feels strange to end it already, also because the rest of the team was elected for the whole year, and I was elected for half of the year. I did not want to leave them yet and felt I could contribute to the team a lot and that they needed me. I do of course wish we could have continued with the first team, but due to some issues this was not really possible. However I am very happy I got to finish this term in a great way in the end with the interim-Chair Team Mariella Rapa, Thomas Leszke and Alberto Cuesta Noriega!
After Agora Enschede, at some point you were the only official member left in the Chair Team. How did you manage to get all the work done?
Yes, at times I was the only official member in the team. Sometimes it was quite a challenge to get the work done, but I did my best. What kept me going is that I wanted this Agora to take place, no matter what happened, and prepare it the best way possible. I got the chance to do things and tasks I otherwise as a Secretary never would have been able to do. There were times where I did the tasks of the Secretary, Chair person and IT at the same time, but I am glad I did not have to chair, which is the only thing I would not have liked to do. So thankfully Mariella and Thomas did that, and Alberto was there to make sure the IT aspect of the Agora went smoothly. I was more or less guiding the team, since I was the person that was there all the time and was most up-to-date on what was going on. It felt strange sometimes, but it was also something I actually liked to do.
How do you look back on your time as Secretary of the Agora?
Very positive overall. Of course, there were some troubles. You work hard and cannot enjoy the Agora in the way the others do, which can be frustrating – not being able to see your friends, meet people or party as much as the others do, but you get so much in return and you get to see the Agora and EBM from the other side. I will surely remember the amazing Chair meeting and Local Training Course (LTC) in Cagliari with Ermanno Napolitano, Mariella Rapa and Alma Mozgovaja. Dancing and singing in the plenary room with the Chair Team in between sessions at the EBM in Izmir. The lovely pink rooms we had in Izmir and Enschede. Who run the world? Girls! The funny jokes from all team members, Ilija Bojchovikj (the IT-assistant)’s obsession with Dutch cows, organisers taking great care of us and bringing us food and drinks. Being elected at the Agora in Struga, the pre-event before Izmir with the whole Chair Team Ermanno, Ilija, Yvonne and Mariella. Having some free time during Agora Budapest somehow.
But also the moments when my hands were too swollen to type. The emails that never stopped coming. The nights where we were working in the middle of the night trying to fix the agenda again, counting votes until very late, while the others were partying. But still we did our best to party hard and enjoy the Agora, and I think we succeeded quite well. Working together with everyone and then seeing that together you made it happen, seeing happy participants and organizers. And one of the things we really loved as Chair Team was watching the whole plenary dancing and jumping up and down.
So all in all it was a great experience. I will miss not being able to see the Agora from the stage but I am also glad that when I finish the minutes, I will be able to sit in the audience and can finally speak again. And of course it felt great to get a standing ovation at the end of Agora Budapest! Thanks guys! And thank you Chair Team members Yvonne Antonovic, Ilija Bojchovikj, Mariella Rapa, Alma Mozgovaja, Robert Martínez-Carrasco, Alberto, Thomas Leszke and Lucille Rieux, and JC-ans Ermanno Napolitano, Atanas Nachkov and Denise Zonnebeld, JC Subcommies, Marleen Dijkhoff, Alla Resheten, organizers and all the others for the great moments and the opportunity to work together!
Written by Marije Arentze, AEGEE-Leiden
Photos are kindly provided by Sygrit Andringa, AEGEE-Groningen and Dasha Onokhova, AEGEE-Moskva