Erika Bettin in the beginning submitted a candidature for Network Commission but then later changed it to Chair Team. The AEGEEan interviewed her about her time in AEGEE so far and her interest in becoming part of the team managing statutory events.
When and why did you join AEGEE?
I joined AEGEE in 2011. I must say that AEGEE found me. I am a friend of AEGEE-Venezia’s former President and he asked me to join because they needed someone with knowledge of PR. It was the notorious “right place, right time”. After my Erasmus, I was looking for an association capable to make me feel international again, and AEGEE was what I needed.
You first submitted a candidature for Network Commission (NetCom) but then changed for the Chair team. What made you change your mind?
After the two years I spent working on a local level I felt the urge to move to the European level. I applied for NetCom in early August, then I discovered that two other people from Italy expressed interest in the position. We had some discussions about it and we all agreed it was unfair to lose someone very motivated to work on European level. I must say I was somehow relieved to hear that, because the idea to run for the Chair Team was already growing in my mind. I took some time to think and it wasn’t easy. I’m aware that changing candidature was risky, but in the end I chose to follow my heart.
Why are you more motivated for Chair team than Network Commission?
Chair team and Network Commission are two different jobs. Chair team for me is a challenge. It is a challenge because I don’t have much experience on European Level (especially compared with my fellow candidates). It is a challenge because your work is in front of the entire Network, but I love challenges. When I have a goal, I work hard to achieve it and that’s what I intend to do with my candidature and my term, if I’m elected.
You have only attended one Agora and one EBM, do you consider that sufficient for the candidature of chair team?
Attending only an Agora and an EBM may seems insufficient to perform all the tasks the Chair team position require. But I am a fast learner and a hard worker and I have a lot of trust in the knowledge transfer. I spent every free minute to study theCIA, speaking with more experienced people, learning from those that already held the position.
What is an Agora to you?
The Agora is my favourite AEGEE event. It’s a very special place where we gather all together and we can share our experience. It could sound idealistic, but in an Agora we can raise our voice and change things if we believe they should be changed. In a statutory meeting you can see how much people care about our organisation and how much we work for it. For me an Agora is a place to share our stories. I like the fact that you can meet 800 people with different ideas and different backgrounds and learn a lot from them.
What have you learned from the experience of being president of your antenna?
Being president of AEGEE–Venezia was, and still is, everything but easy. At first, when I was asked to become president, I wasn’t happy because the amount of work to do was massive. I struggled a lot to maintain my local and there were a lot of moments of frustration. Being president taught me to be more focused on important goals and pursue them. Definitely I learned not to give up, no matter how bad the situation may seem.
You have not been in AEGEE for long, but what have you gained from the organisation as experience in those two years?
When I think about my time in AEGEE I actually cannot believe it has only been two years. I strongly believe that time doesn’t affect your experience. If you are truly committed you can learn a lot even in a short amount of time. Apart from all the vital information about our organisation, AEGEE changed me. Now I’m more aware of my strong points, I learned to manage my time better and to respect my to – do list. Being president of AEGEE–Venezia was a turning point of my professional life. I applied all the things I learned in class.
How does chair team suit your personality, interests, experiences and field of expertise?
When I told John Eikosidekas from AEGEE-Patra my intention to run for the Chair team he told me: “You have the austerity that goes with it and as much as I know you, you can cope with stress and pressure”. And this is probably my strongest point. Plus, in my daily job I have to perform similar tasks. Both in the webzine and the radio show I host, I’m the one in charge to decide who is going to do what, drafting the agenda of the week, reminding people of their job, help them with any kind of questions. I really like to organize things and be in charge of something, but, most of all, I like having all the tasks performed in the best way possible.
What have you learned while being subcommissioner of Claudio Armandi (NetCom)?
Being subcommissioner is a great experience. After one year working only on my local I wanted to be a little more involved in the Network and when Claudio issued the open call I felt it was my chance. Claudio taught me not to over think, to work hard, to be more down-to-earth and focus on the important things without thinking about the criticism. It has been a good year and I have established excellent relationships with other subcommies. There have been many moments of despair, but Claudio has always supported me.
How would you like to keep good communication between Comité Directeur (CD), chair, Juridical Commission (JC) and other European Level bodies?
I believe team work is the best thing in our organisation and you can reach it only with good interpersonal communication. Regular updates, Skype meetings, speaking to each other on regular basis.
How would you like to change the way visitors are selected and to contribute to the change in the structure of EBM, trying to balance more workshops, plenaries and Action Agenda?
Visitors are the most heterogeneous group of people you can find in AEGEE so it’s very important to try to select them in the most democratic way possible. Selections for this Agora raised some controversy. I am a big fan of motivation letters but in this kind of events, I believe they’re a gamble especially if you have to read 600 of them. I would let the local Agora choose their visitors as it is done for delegates. A local should know their members and decide who is more suitable to attend the Agora. EBM Valletta was my first statutory event and I really enjoyed it, but I find it a little bit unbalanced. Strategic Plan and Action Agenda was discussed only on the last days. My idea is to spread those important things throughout the entire event.
It is certain that Erika has many ideas for improvement of AEGEE’s statutory events and it will be interesting to see who becomes part of the future Chair Team. The AEGEEan wishes Erika good luck with her candidature.
Written by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-Koebenhavn
Photos courtesy of: Gabriele Basile AEGEE-Catania and Francesca Russo AEGEE-Padova