Two girls from The AEGEEan have been chosen as fair managers for Autumn Agora Zaragoza. One being Anna Gumbau (AEGEE-Barcelona), the editor of the Working Groups/Project Teams section and the second being Dasha Onohova (AEGEE-Moskva), who is famous for the pictures she takes at the statutory events. The two girls also Work together in the Culture Working Group (CWG), but there is much more to their AEGEE story and The AEGEEan shares it with you here.
You have been doing many thing in AEGEE, but how did you actually join the organisation and when?
Anna Gumbau: It was in late 2011 when I first heard about AEGEE, while looking for a chance to practice English, travel around Europe, meet people with similar interests and gain skills. It seemed just perfect for me. And it was quite funny since I joined AEGEE-Tarragona while I was actually from Barcelona, so I was not active on local level at all. But then I came back from my first Travel Summer University (TSU) so excited and full of AEGEE spirit that I got in touch with AEGEE-Barcelona and attended my first meeting. That day was our former president’s birthday party and I was invited straightaway. The feelings were amazing! It’s a story that started not so long ago, but I hope it will last for many years.
Dasha: I joined AEGEE in June 2011. One of my friends told me about AEGEE, and I joined. I was an organiser of our Travel Summer University (TSU) vol 3 and there is no way back anymore! It has been the best time of my life, since I joined AEGEE.
What are your favourite memories so far?
Anna: The first meeting with the AEGEE-Barcelona members will remain special for the good atmosphere I could feel from the beginning. I have been a member of several other organizations, but at that moment I realised I had found my place. Of course, being the Summer University Coordinator with the wonderful people from AEGEE-Las Palmas has been one of my most vivid memories and a time I learnt a lot, also about myself, my strong and weak points. And every event I have attended so far has given me the spark and the motivation to keep carrying on, so each of them is memorable in its own special way.
Dasha: For me, my favorite memory is still my first event with AEGEE, the TSU vol 3! We will see what other favorite moments I will get soon.
Why did you apply to become fair manager?
Anna: I always say that my journey on the European Level started at the AEGEE Fair in Budapest. I attended the Agora as a visitor, I had just become active in AEGEE-Barcelona and had no idea about most of the bodies on the European Level (EL). But I came back to Barcelona with lots of ideas and motivation to take a new step in AEGEE, and that was thanks to the Fair. It was exactly one year ago, and now I want to give back to the AEGEE Fair what it gave to me at that time, which is something that changed my views upside down. Besides, I also have a deep emotional link with Zaragoza, since my mom’s family came from the region of Aragón. There was no better time and place to be Fair Manager! I first thought about it in July, during the European Structured Dialogue event in the same city of Zaragoza, which I attended as Communications Responsible. Then, when the open call was issued, I got in touch with Olga Rivero, the Fair Manager in Agora Rhein-Neckar, who gave me lots of good advice even though we hadn’t ever met before! All summed up, nothing could stop me from applying.
Dasha: Because it’s a great opportunity to get new skills and it is something I can do to make something good for my lovely AEGEE organisation!
What do you think about working in a team of two fair managers?
Anna: To tell the truth, I had spoken to Dasha the day after the application deadline, and when I found out she had applied too I feared at first that I wouldn’t be selected. But then I thought there could be a chance that both of us could work together as a team. It helps for sure when it comes to task division, and that’s what we actually decided: I’ll be in charge of the direct communication with the EL bodies, whereas she’ll be in charge of the visual part of the Fair. I must say that fortunately we are not alone in this: we have received incredible support and advice from Kathrin Renner (CD appointed member), Madalena Sousa (Research & Administrative Officer) and Elena Antova (Secretary of the Agora), who are giving us lots of feedback. I can’t be thankful enough also to Olga Rivero, who is helping us as the direct contact between the Fair Team and the ZarAgora organizers.
Dasha: It is a good question! Before the announcement of who was going to be the fair manager, we talked with Anna Gots from the CD and she gave the idea of having the possibility of the two of us working together. We crossed our fingers, and it happened. She is so amazing and I am happy to work with her! We already know each other and have gotten the opportunity before to work together thanks to the European Level of AEGEE!
You have already been working together in the CWG, does that help in the preparations for Agora Zaragoza?
Anna: Sure! I knew Dasha as the PR Responsible of the Culture Working Group and I always saw her as a very creative and artistic person. I already feel it, since I can notice her personal touch in her visual conception of the Fair. It’s something I have never been good at, so I am really thankful to be together in the same boat!
You are both active on the European Level of AEGEE, why?
Anna: Because from the very start I’ve found lots of inspiration in the different bodies I’ve taken part. One of the people who has encouraged me the most was Guillermo García Tabarés, at the beginning of his term as speaker of the CWG. The motivation that drives me to keep taking steps in AEGEE is to *learn* every day, and I have found a place where I am developing and improving myself, where I can feel useful and test my skills, where I have met awesome people and lived memorable experiences. Just as an example: I was recently reading my first articles in The AEGEEan and I’m amazed of the difference in the quality of the writing that one year can make!
Dasha: For me AEGEE is a big field, where you can plant and grow everything! It can be all your ideas, your projects, basically whatever helps in making our future better! And AEGEE already has a lot of Projects, where you can grow personally! I always try to improve myself and the world around me. For example I am a board member in CWG, where I am the PR responsible. In my time in the CWG, I have met a lot of people in AEGEE, worked with them, and we have created great projects all together. We have been focusing on how to improve the cultural level and involve people in AEGEE. I am not just doing the PR of the CWG on social platforms, but also I am part of the teams of some of the projects of the CWG. I also attend a team of some projects of CWG. One of them is the “Culture European Night Awards”, which aims to improve the “Culture European Night” on the local level of AEGEE. The local with the most cultural European Night (EN) will get a special prize at every Agora during the Cultural EN (CEN). To get more information and how to participate in the project, go here!
Would you encourage others to take the step to EL as well? And why?
Anna: Definitely! In fact, one of the tasks I would like to carry as the HR Responsible of AEGEE- Barcelona is to introduce the members of our local to the European Level of AEGEE. Very few of us are currently active, and there are lots of opportunities each one of us can benefit from. In this sense, my biggest hope as a Fair Manager is to create an atmosphere full of inspiration and AEGEE spirit, and that at least one member can come back to his/her city with the enthusiasm to do lots of things, which is what happened to me one year ago. Therefore I encourage everyone to take part in the AEGEE Fair, and to make it memorable!
Dasha: YES! I definitely encourage everyone to participate in WGs and Projects of AEGEE! You will learn a lot there, about how to work in a team, you will find new friends, who will support you in your ideas and together you can change the world!
What have you been doing since being announced as Fair Managers?
Anna: We had our first Skype meeting to define our “concept” for the AEGEE Fair and were given the knowledge transfer by Olga and Anna Gots, who were the CD members in charge of the Fair. We also got the map of the venue, so we started working on the possible distribution, the visual concept, and I have sent already the open call to the mailing list.
Dasha: We already had our first Skype meeting, exchanged lots of e-mails with ideas and have already sent the open call to the Network! But our term just started, and we have much more work to do! For example involve people in the AEGEE FAIR, make booklets, as well as other preparations for the fair! I work in an amazing team, and I think this AEGEE FAIR will be great!
The AEGEE fair usually requires the European Level bodies to be very creative. What creative things to do you as fair managers plan to do?
Anna: We are mostly keeping up with the work of our predecessors but trying to introduce some improvements. However, we plan to make it visually attractive and inspiring, probably by introducing the idea of some AEGEE museum. We took the first step, which was to define the overall concept of the Fair… we’ll see later how we’ll transform it! However, Dasha is the creative soul of the team, and there are many ideas we discussed and we both would like to see happen.
Dasha: We already have some ideas, such as collaboration with the CWG like “AEGEE Museum” (a museum that shows the talent of our Network of their art pieces: sculpture, painting (any kind)…) and a big “SUSHKA” (which is some kind of photo exhibition on rope). I would like to encourage all AEGEE members to take part in “SUSHKA” (bring with you 1-3 photos from any AEGEE event and hang them on the rope on the Fair) and “AEGEE Museum” (if you have talent, show your art to everybody, we have a special place for you at the fair)! The rest of the ideas are a secret but keep calm and look forward to the news!
With the fair safe in the hands of these two girls and all the other helpers it is for sure that there is now one more thing to look forward to for the Agora Zaragoza next month!
Written by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-København