The Agora is approaching and that means it is time to elect the Comité Directeur (CD) again. One of the passionate AEGEE members who hope to move to the new CD house in Brussels is Szabina Hellinger from AEGEE-Budapest. The AEGEEan took the time to interview her and to hear about her plans, but first let us introduce Szabina to you.
Besides being a 24-year-old AEGEE-Budapest member, The AEGEEan can inform you that she is spending her time on Erasmus in Bologna (Italy) at the moment. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Studies on the Eötvös Loránd University, and now she is finishing her Masters there in the field of Adult Education, specialising in the lifelong learning process. As if that were not enough, she also has a BA in Italian linguistics and culture.
Because of her studies Szabina has experience with volunteering not only in a retirement home but also with the Hungarian Red Cross, mostly around Christmas accepting the donations for children, and when she arrived to Bologna she joined the Italian Red Cross as well. “I find volunteering my “drug”, because I see how huge successes can be achieved with small actions and how a lot of happiness can be brought, therefore I want to get and give more,” is what Szabina says about her habit of volunteering.
The AEGEEan: Why do you want to become a member of the Comité Directeur?
Szabina: I have a different attitude about it. I would put into the focus not myself, but AEGEE, meaning it is not about being a CD member, but about what I can offer to the association by my work, and the Agora will decide if it is needed or not. True, being in CD interested me since I became active but I did not dare to apply because of my lack of experience. First I thought that it was indispensable to work to get the knowledge and get the experience which is required to be effective for the association. Now after two years I have spent on the European level, I feel I am ready to accomplish the tasks of a CD member.
There are three people from AEGEE-Budapest hoping to go to Bruxelles. What makes your local such a strong local, and what does this “competition” mean in your eyes?
AEGEE-Budapest is a very strong and supportive local and they showed that in Autumn Agora Budapest. Its biggest strength is the family atmosphere, they are really open minded and welcoming to every member without making a difference between newbies, oldies or those who are there only for the Summer Universities (SUs). Since there are a lot of members, they also motivate each other with their enthusiasm – this is also evident by the number of our members active on the European level.
About your second question: it is a really funny coincidence that there are three of us from the same local running for CD. I am more than proud of my antenna because of it, but this “competition” – the way you call it – in my eyes is not different than the one we have with the other candidates, because for me it does not matter where we come from but what we want to achieve, having the same aims, and most importantly, where we want to go.
You have been involved with Project Teams and Working Groups in many ways, but can you please explain your history with them a bit?
On my first professional event in AEGEE (which was the Summer University Project School 2010) I got to learn about WGs and Projects. After going home I started checking out if there is something related to education, since this is one of my biggest interests. I found the Education Working Group (EWG) and I wrote to the former speaker (Jorge Miguel) a shy e-mail with my motivation and interests, and I got a warm welcome as an answer. After this I was the EWG’s HR responsible for half a year, and I represented it on the Autumn Agora Skopje 2011. I am really grateful for the EWG because it gave me many possibilities for work related to my studies, but mostly to unleash my potential.
During my work in the WG I met Diana Yolova, speaker of the Higher Education Days Project, who was talking to me about the project and made me really motivated in it, so I joined. Since that I am the PR responsible, and I represented it on the Spring Agora Enschede 2012, Autumn Agora Budapest 2012, and I will be the envoy of this PT at the Spring Agora Rhein-Neckar 2013 too. Currently we are focusing to the recognition of the non formal education and researching about the Bologna process (leaded by Avgustina Vasilieva).
How do you believe the cooperation can be strengthened between European level bodies?
There are some Working Groups and Projects which have similar topics, just from a different point of view, with or small differences; I would like to encourage them to organise a common event, research or program to help each other, giving each other new ideas or point of view, improving each other and themselves. Moreover I would like to encourage bodies and members to start new Working Groups or Projects according their interests.
The second step of this would happen through the members, because if we want to achieve our goals we need to catch them at most basic level, one by one, since they are the association’s future. The Fair is a perfect forum for it, but it does not reach those members who are not participating in the Agora or EBM. I would encourage the locals to promote the projects and WGs, and at the same time bring the European level closer to the members through the bodies.
There are many WGs and PTs who have trouble with activating members. What is your opinion about this and how would you help them?
Motivation is one of the biggest problems not just for PTs, or WGs, but all the bodies, meaning not just getting new members but keeping the old ones active. To catch new members, the Fair is a great opportunity, improving their PR materials, but as I mentioned above I would also reach out to those members who are not participating. I would also strongly collaborate with the Network Commission since they have the strongest relation with the locals.
Second step would be helping in their internal HR. I would strongly collaborate with the board of a WG and PT highlight the HR responsible, encouraging them to hold personal meetings as much as possible, like on Statutory Events, or in the CD house, because Skype meetings are useful for working, but not so much for teambuilding.
You have been the Fair Manager once yourself, and mention strengthening AEGEE fair in your program. How do you think this should be done?
Obviously I would cooperate with the Fair Manager(s) as much as possible, with the Speakers too, since this is the main forum where all the bodies can represent themselves in the same time, as mentioned above. I would cooperate with the bodies asking about their needs not just in a material way but also in the sense support. I would hold a meeting before the Fair where their needs could be discussed and I would have a feedback session after it discussing their difficulties, successes, and most importantly their recommendations for improvement.
In case you are elected, you will probably be working with members who have been working together for a year already. What is your opinion about this?
First of all I admire their work and I am sure I could learn a lot of them. It would be a huge opportunity for me to receive and benefit from their experience and knowledge. But we cannot create, improve and develop without adding anything new. Even a small change can grow into an innovation and every year is a new possibility to prove it. In case I am elected I think we could have a strong collaboration and I could provide CD with some fresh ideas.
Written by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-København