Landing in a city you do not know, exploring the cultural and administrative habits of a foreign country and
all this time – searching for new friends. It is not a rare case when in such a situation AEGEE has come in extremely handy with helping people integrate faster and better in a new environment once they have started their education abroad. But sometimes those people get even more thirsty for AEGEE emotions and even though they don’t (in some cases) speak the local language, they prove that we could be united in our diversity. Those are the non-native board members that once more show us that in AEGEE dreams don’t have limits and you just have to decide you want something! Examples turned out to be so many so I just caught some of them to find out what an added value this experience is bringing to them.
Beata Owsiana is from Poland and joined AEGEE in 2010 during her Erasmus in Brussels. She liked the opportunity to go to Summer University and grabbed her chance. ‘Once I had decided to move to Brussels in order to continue with my Master studies I decided to become more active’ – she adds. – ‘Since I study HR Management I decided to join the newly created at that time HRC and few months later AEGEE Brussels/Bruxelles was looking for motivated people to join the board, so I presented my candidature as HR Responsible.’ Now Beata is already the President of her antenna and the driving motor of many local activities. In terms of difficulties due to her nationality she confidently responses: ‘Brussels is really a multicultural city and even previous boards showed it. There have already been several presidents from out of Belgium and most of the core team consists of great people with different cultures of grown-ups who came to Brussels to study, work, or do an internship, etc. and built the network of new acquaintances. AEGEE is good for that. Sometimes it seems to be hard to get along together since we have different characters and moreover we are a multinational team with different backgrounds but still goal is the same: AEGEE expansion :). But as always in AEGEE – it is not only us who are giving to the network, because very often – efforts pays back. Beata also confirms it when I ask her what she likes most of being in AEGEE while studying abroad:
Beata: AEGEE has given me a loooot! I came here without knowing anyone. I remember when I came to my first AEGEE party in Brussels where I knew only one girl from Facebook who came at the end of that party. I felt super alone there for like half an hour but then it turned to my best evening of my Erasmus ever! I became a part of a big family. Family on which you can always count and that is extremely precious, especially when you are abroad, far away from your family and best friends and some “strangers” offer you a huge amount of help/support/love just because you are part of the same network. AEGEE is an amazing label!
I hear the same inspiring motivation from the Belgian Eva Billen who is currently secretary of AEGEE-Maastricht. ‘The thing I like most about being in AEGEE in general is that it does not matter where you are, if you are studying abroad or still in your own hometown. For sure you will meet new people with new insights and you will go on an amazing adventure together.
The thing I like most about being in the board, is that I have learned how to work closely with a group of people. I have grown more confident, not just as a person, but as part of a team that strives towards a common goal’.
The Spaniard Jero Galiana shares us a little different experience for his participation inthe board of AEGEE-Munchen. ‘When I started the communication language in the antenna it was mostly German. Back then the majority of the active members were Germans as well as almost all board members. My German back then was not so good, therefore it was needed to communicate in English. Well, next two years many non-German speaking members have joined the antenna so we have created a big international atmosphere.’ The same experience was shared by Ekaterina Malysheva, who after four years in AEGEE-Moskva she joined AEGEE-Valencia. ‘I am learning Spanish – She told us – but the guys and I prefer to talk in English, it’s an international language and the main language of AEGEE’ . Obviously both Ekaterina and Jero managed to find their way to become board members. Jero even became Vice-President in 2011, now holding the position of regular board assistant.
When I ask them what they like about being board members Ekaterina answers immediately: ‘To be a board member gives you a unique opportunity to see the antenna from inside, to take part in important decisions and organize the events, to belong to the close group of friends who share your ideas and interest. And it is double interesting if you have this experience abroad. It gives you a new experience and a lot of fun!’ . For Jero the viewpoint already changed since he is not a student anymore but still he emphasizes: ‘AEGEE gave me so much and became an addiction to me. It is not something you can just leave.’
It is surely still an addition to us so let’s keep re-creating Europe in the way we would like to see it and keep remembering that everything is possible.
Written by Liliya Buyukliyska, AEGEE-Sofia