The AEGEEan journalist Liliya Buyukliyska was again in front of the familiar door at Rue du Noyer 55. The house is described as with AEGEE spirit everywhere – from the stickers to the charm of the office. During the dinner talks about musical festivals and shower troubles it is visible that those people are more than a family and enjoy it to the biggest extent possible. In the interview The AEGEEan discovered why the seven CD members have the motivation to continue one more year.
The AEGEEan: Describe each other! How do you see other members of the team?
Anna Gots is lovely, money, hardworking, dreamer, singing outloud, administration. Miguel Gallardo Albajar addings that ‘you easily see when she is not in the office, cause you always miss the music when she is not there’
Miguel Gallardo Albajar according to the others is: comfort, a team player, le chef, hugs, idealist, broken bones, and a supporter.
Luis Alvardo Martinez: no belt, never-ending e-mails, never-ending ideas of projects, bloody tiger, leader, pushy, and “one of us”.
Beata Matuszka: broken bones, lady, working at night, coffee, Irish, and focused.
Kathrin Renner: clumsy, dangerous, idealist, grammar nazi, perfectionist, fan, party, pumpkin, good roommate, and seller.
Pavel Zbornik: humble, IT, builder, money, structures, super-duper skilled and smart, engineer, BEER, and swiss-army knife.
Lucille Rieux: Feta, guitar, ‘Close the door’, people, eyes, organised, keep in mind, hardworking, French, Cheese, and dry tomatoes.
Was it the EBM where you decided to re-candidate and did you make the decision individually or together?
Lucille: We were thinking about it long time before that. We were sharing the idea since we are always together in the office.
Kathrin: We took the decision individually but all of us depending of what the other has decided.
Miguel: I don’t think that any of us would have done it if we were the only ones to consider it. But once we saw what the others want to do it was much easier to decide.
So for each of you it was playing a role that you are going to do it together?
For four of you there is still the question what is going to happen. Are you all going to enjoy the next year irrespective of whom you are going to spend it with or it’s more connected to the group spirit? Is the team already built up?
Miguel: When we were candidating we knew that there was this possibility and we played with that. We were taking into account that it’s democracy. So if it’s not all of us but one or two extra people we would do as much as possible to make him/her part of the team, of course.
Is your re-candidating somehow connected to the AEGEE-Identity project?
Lucille: Well, it’s not directly but it’s true that if we stay it will be good to make the follow up. But it’s one initiative among many.
Miguel: We made our activity plan that was maybe too ambitious – for some, we just put too many things in it but for others – they were not possible to achieve in one year. Some of you need a lot of time.
And after all this time in the CD, did you find what is the AEGEE identity like for you?
Luis: It is in our activity plan that we launch at the beginning of September we did the identity process
that we ask the Network to complete themselves. So we already stated the ideal AEGEE that we want to see for ourselves. We want to see a platform that inspires young people, training and developing them. And also cultural exchange but seen mostly not as a main focus but rather as a tool or a side effect. So a platform which uses all its potentials.
Kathrin: And a platform, which creates European citizens.
And if you are going to be re-elected is it going to have some position or task changes?
Luis: We have discussed this. The positions would stay the same as well as most of the tasks but we will have a task re-distribution in order to keep us motivated and to change some tasks and try some new things.
Lucille: Well, soon we would have new employed people in the house for the first time. So, we are going to re-distribute some of the secretariat tasks. Some are from the LLL Project but some others are administrative tasks. Also with Anna – she is already helping a lot with administration work, so basically we already share. Actually in this team even if each of us has assigned task we do a lot of things together as a team and there are a lot of common initiatives over which we work all together. So it’s not just doing one thing and that’s what I like a lot this year.
Luis: Yeah, It’s not really many-many individual tasks but we have a lot of team tasks.
What is your biggest achievement in AEGEE? Some of you had this question last year but for sure now the answer has changed.
Anna: Well, our common biggest achievement is moving the house, for sure. Besides our PC works, staying in front of the computer and setting all the meetings, this was actually a very big achievement.
Miguel: We are also now, for the first time, involved in many Life-Long learning programmes that we knew AEGEE before was not involved in. For some of them we have been small partners but we get now our big role. We have applied for things that we have never applied for before as AEGEE.
Luis: Our biggest achievement as CD this year was to go for something better. We have seen that this organisation was stuck or not stuck but staying in its comfort zone for many-many years as doing the same thing every year and a bit scared to try new things out. And this year, we have tried a lot of things – new things. And a lot of them went well, so it is visible for the Network. We have tried new things, apply for new funding, offer new house, organise new projects. Of course, when you expand your comfort zone and try to do different things, the organisation moves. Breaking up this bubble, which we were in before and also making the Network join our initiatives and contributing. I think that’s one of the biggest successes.
Beata: Actually you could not say one big thing. I remember when this question was asked to me last year it was easier to answer at that time. But now we have expanded our limits, we tried new things, challenging ourselves every day…So, you could not really pick one as the biggest, because everything is a big achievement here. The biggest actually is us enjoying what we are doing and always trying to pass this energy and motivation on to the whole network and to move the network itself.
Kathrin: For me, first of all it’s the EBM and we actually asked our members what they wanted to see and we had recommendations that came directly from our members which we haven’t seen in the past. The impact management – now is still in the early stage
but it is going to bring a big change. And also the fact that we are running again for office is also a pretty big achievement, because it shows that even after half a year , we know all the problems but also all the benefits and potentials, we are still motivated and inspired to do another year and it’s also a pretty big achievement.
Pavel (even though he needed some encouragement – it must be put down to the fact that he is humble): Well, the moving of the house’s infrastructure was challenging for sure (never remind him of the 1 km-long cables he had to move). So finally with the help of the rest of the team, we found out that maybe, the fact that he has applied for 700 000 euro could be his biggest achievement. Even though the new website, the SU 25 booklet, new blog, etc. could be also among the many successful stories on the list. But still for Pavel – improving the communication channels like making people more informed what is happening in AEGEE. I think this is my achievement. We are trying to broadcast the information directly to the members. Increasing the visibility of AEGEE is seen!
Lucille: This year, one of the things that changes is the image of AEGEE externally in the sense that we are doing a lot of work in Brussels. We are not only realizing some meetings and attending conferences but we try to do some projects here in Brussels, so we get more visibility as an organisation, to be taken more seriously. It existed in the past – we are not finding a new activity – but it was a little lost and we are bringing it back.
Miguel, Kathrin, Beata and Pavel – what if from September, your address is not rue Noyer 55 any more? What’s next in that case?
Miguel: If I am not re-elected I have already planned to stay in Brussels. I like a lot living in the city. Even before the
re-candidating idea came, I was already thinking about staying here but don’t have a clear plan yet. Probably it would be something different from my studies – environmental but at the same time not too different – policy or working in some organisation. But I hope I could work in THIS organisation.
Beata: I still have to finish my masters, I need to write my thesis. So if I am not going to be here from September I am going home, thinking over my whole life and what I actually want to be. Actually, after all this AEGEE experience, I think I want to be professional trainer, a coach. If I don’t stay here, I would challenge myself as much as I can, expand my comfort zone and try new things. I just can’t imagine my life without AEGEE.
Kathrin: I think I would stay in Brussels. It would be very hard to let it go so I would try to stay. I would probably look for a job here, in Berlin or somewhere else and start working. Maybe do a masters aside and start a life basically. But, of course, I hope I would stay here.
Pavel: For me – I have no clue. CD is a kind of a procrastination of my decision in which direction I would go, which kind of work, what specialisation I would choose, which country, which continent. I don’t know.
Is one more year a big sacrifice?
Luis: It is a very-very big sacrifice. Previous CDs always had a lot of problem with private life, managing to live in a city like Brussels, since we are not getting so much money. We are still volunteers. We work as professionals but we don’t get money as professionals or all the benefits they have. We don’t have too much private life, we work on the weekends, we don’t have holidays. It is a very big sacrifice in life and the only possible way you could survive the city and think of re-candidating is to have an amazing team and the team relations are very good. That’s why we have taken this decision – because the atmosphere in the house is extremely good. When you have people who support you, people who bring you up when you are down – I think is the only way you could survive this.
Lucille: And also the thing which help a lot is that we have a common vision, we share a lot of ideas. Sometimes, we might have different views but we have a common vision for AEGEE…
Anna: ….keep inspiring each other, challenging each other…
Miguel: …….learning from each other.
Anna: You could always see how you could grow, how you could learn more and more.
Miguel: Actually, this extra year – each of us was thinking – we were already given one year, this
extra year – I can afford it. But you don’t say the same when you are at a university or you are working. At least for one year, I am sure for sure, I could learn here more than during all the years at the university, anyway.
Pavel: From my perspective it is really a sacrifice, because I could have had a really decent life and a well-paid job. But on the other hand – I do what I like. Why should I change it? So finally – it is not a sacrifice from my point of view – it is one more year to enjoy.
Beata: I was taking into account that actually I work full-time and I extremely love every single moment of my stay here. So…why would I give it up if I really enjoy being with these people, if I really enjoy doing my work?! When I came here, I was not thinking about one more year. But then, we started talking about it – it is really amazing to work all together and do all these initiatives making the life of 13,000 members better. So these things are amazing.
Anna: It is a question of priorities. Apart from having a common vision and ideas we have also a similar vision of priorities. We all could have one of these jobs with a lot of money, nice house or free time. But we all want a job which would bring us more experience, a job that gathers people with the same vision and who we like.
Miguel: You can always go to one of the events in the Network and get your batteries charged, because there, you see that all we do has an impact on all these people and also for me, there is something very important – I don’t think that in any other job you could have so much impact. Maybe with another job you could reach a lot of people but as CD the impact we have over each of the members of AEGEE is really big. Thinking of the CD – I think this is what I want to do.
And now – rephrasing Luis’ last year interview – tell us the ‘Five lessons I have learned since being in Brussels’
Written by Liliya Buyukliyska, AEGEE-Sofia