NetCom Times: Subcommissioners across the Network with passion for helping antennae

The Network Commission is a team full of people that several AEGEEans know due to all the communication they have with antennae across Europe. However, the work of the NetCom would not be efficient without teams of subcommissioners and in this interview you get an insight into what it is like being a subcommie for a Network Commissioner.

Carmen Maria

Alvaro Espinosa (AEGEE-Santander, Pauline Létard (AEGEE-Toulouse) and Carmen Maria Benegas (AEGEE-Alicante) are subcommissioners of Pilar Lop. Silvija Peric (AEGEE-Zagreb) helps Antonija Parat, Maria Arends (AEGEE-Groningen) helps Patricia Anthony and Erika Bettin (AEGEE-Venezia) helps Claudio Armandi. All of them share a deep passion for helping the Network and being part of seeing antennae improve.

For most of the subcommies the reason to help the NetCom team was to be more active on the European Level of AEGEE. For example; Pauline worked together with Lucille Rieux, who herself was a subcommie of Luis Alvarado Martinez at this time, in the Speak Up project. The aim was to develop the French part of the Network by doing a bus tour in several big French cities with one message – “young people, get involve and participate”! Unfortunately, the project did not get through but it was a really good experience for Pauline and her first on European level. Network development and Youth participation had been key topics of interest for her since her beginning in AEGEE. Then Lucille who Pauline refers to as somewhat her mentor in AEGEE strongly encouraged her to become a subcommie.

Alvaro, who is part of the same team says “Being a subcommissioner was an opportunity, this is something that never crossed my mind before. However, Pilar, together with the previous team thought that I could fit because they trust me and in my work on the local level. Receiving that kind of confidence from these great and experienced people was the reason I decided to become one of them.” For Silvija this idea was first introduced by her former NetCom – Ana Dragić, but at that time, she had a lot of other obligations and had just started her term as President of AEGEE-Zagreb. However, she continued with the idea stuck in her brain and when Antonija Parat was elected as NetCom, she decided to apply. What she enjoys is working on European level too, because she knew it would increase her knowledge about AEGEE and give her the opportunity to help other locals as well as improving her own local: AEGEE-Zagreb.

For Maria there are too many reasons, as she says it. She talked with newly elected NetCom Patricia Anthony after Agora Rhein-Neckar about the need for a strong team of subcommies in the Nordic area, because of the problems we are facing (especially in Scandinavia, even though AEGEE does not have many locals there) due to Euroscepticism. The idea arose to try to work on this topic together with the locals in the UK, and that is the main reason she wanted to become involved. Apart from that she believes that the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltics are wonderful places in Europe, which are, unfortunately, underrepresented in AEGEE, and Maria truly hopes to be able to make a change. Carmen joined when there was somebody leaving the team and she was ready to continue that person’s work as she loves the Network and helping others. She is a big fan of organisation in terms of administration and procedures inside any organisation and selects that as the main reason why she wanted to join.

As one can imagine the subcommies tasks and functions mainly relate to contact with some of the antennae that the NetCom is responsible for. When asked about what they do, subcommie Pauline answers :“First I worked with the members of the antennae I’m in charge of taking care of. I talk with them on a regular basis, at least once a month when everything goes smoothly and sometimes everyday when they need it. I’m trying to take the pulse of the antenna, to find out in there are any problems or tensions but also find out about the assets and richness that the antennae have to make them share it with the rest of the Network when it’s possible. Every month, I send them a reminder saying that they have to fill in the monthly report. I sometimes have to harass them a bit to get them to do it but it is important as when antennae does not submit the reports on time it delays the work of NetCommie Pilar. Then I’m part of the Tripulacion, Pilar, her other subcommies and I form a team. Together we organise the Network Meetings and the Renove, we prepare the delegates for the Agora, and we inform the members about interesting opportunities…”. In the case of Maria it is similar as she has the responsibility of AEGEE-Durham, AEGEE-London and AEGEE-Sheffield whom she also asks for Activity Reports and at times they work on a PR strategy. Basically she is trying to help out wherever they want her, as she puts it, and of course she also helps with the organisation of NWM in Tartu this autumn.

Alvaro Espinosa

Pauline continues the interview with telling us about the differences between the antennae she is responsible for. “In my opinion, an antenna relies mostly on people and on a good team. So the difference is in who is part of this team, who animate and dynamise the antenna. There are little tiny teams that sometimes rely on two or three or more person-teams with around 10 really active people. I’m responsible for AEGEE-Paris, AEGEE-Lyon, AEGEE-Brussels/Bruxelles and the two contacts in Lille and Nantes. They mainly have the same profile of antenna but of course the situation in each city is different. For example, AEGEE-Paris is really famous in the Network and in France too  (more than the other French speaking locals anyway) but as Paris is a very expensive city with a lot of student associations, it’s a bit challenging for them. In my opinion, this year they are all facing the same challenge: their experienced and most active members left or are leaving soon. That’s why together with Léa Charlet (AEGEE-Paris), Louise Pahisa (AEGEE-Paris), Marine Betrancourt (AEGEE-Lyon), Inana Namet(Former member of AEGEE-Toulouse and now AEGEE-Paris), Lisa Fanget (AEGEE-Paris) and AEGEE-Paris’s team, we organize a Regional Training Course in Paris. The objective was to make the newly elected boards meet and train them.”

Alvaro sees huge differences between the antennae: “AEGEE-Santander, for instance, was a challenge. They faced some problems and solved them, they also grew a lot, changed their statutes, created a new online database, a new website. Their members are incredible and the communication with them was really fluent so, at the end, it was a pleasure to work together. Then, we have AEGEE-Zaragoza which was just on another level with all the “Agora stuff”. Finally, AEGEE-Bilbao which in my opinion has also grown the last year thanks to the work of their members and the collaboration with their AEGEE neighbors.”

However, there are some other tasks for subcommies around the Network. For example Pauline is also coordinating the organisation of board meetings in the French speaking locals and the RTC.

Maria Arends (to the right) together with Antonija Parat

The AEGEEan: What do you like the most about being a subcommie?

Pauline: Meeting amazing people who have taught me so much!

Silvija: Working in an intercultural team with great people, having the opportunity to learn and grow more and to help others with my experience and knowledge.

Carmen: Mainly working in a team and getting in touch with different people which is making me learn a lot from others. I also like helping antennae with their problems; if they are solved, that’s the best reward.

Erika: The Rainbow (responsible for Italian speaking antennae) subcommie team is great. We created a very good group spirit. Plus, I learned a lot in this year and more important I helped and I was helped.

Maria: Keeping in touch with the locals, seeing how they work and what we can improve is one of the task related things that I really enjoy. Apart from this, of course, the team is amazing! With Patricia and the three other subcommies, I think we really have an amazing and good working team.

Erika Bettin (to the left)

What challenges do you face as a subcommie?

Pauline: Keeping myself updated, there are a lot of informations circulating in AEGEE, you want the antennae to know about it but you don’t want to spam them.

Carmen: Some locals are complicated to run, mainly because they have not many active members and that is always a problem when it comes to fulfilling antenna criteria, filling out questionnaires, respect deadlines and this kind of administrative stuff. As a subcommie, I try to be properly informed and help them understand the procedures and encourage them to cooperate with other antennae that might be able to help or give advice as well.

Silvija: helping other locals in my Network to become stronger, overcome all challenges they are facing and at the same time being updated and knowing everything about what is going on in AEGEE in order to help them

Erika: I was lucky with locals and there weren’t big challenges to face. Before Agora Rhein- Neckar, NetCommie Claudio Armandi and I tried to do everything possible to save AEGEE-Trieste, but there were no signals from them. It is always sad when a local is deleted.

Silvija Peric (to the right)

What has been your favorite moment as a subcommie?

Pauline: Network Meeting Paris : Back on tracks! The first time I met Léa was in Paris and she is a bit like my sister in AEGEE, we joined AEGEE at the same time and we work together a lot. On top of this, it had been a while since we had a NWM in France, so this event was symbolic for us, it was the result of a strong solidarity between the French speaking locals, but also the success of AEGEE-Paris’ amazing team and also of the Tripulacion!

Silvija: My favorite moment was meeting other people in my team and working with them because they have a lot of great ideas and a lot of positive spirit.

Why would you encourage others to become a subcommie?

Pauline: Because you learn so much, because you give so much to the Network and to the antennae too, because it’s an amazing experience!

Silvija: It is the best place to start working on a European level and get to know things better, also, helping others is something priceless and on top of it all you will meet fantastic people and get a lot of experience.

Erika: Being subcommie is such a beautiful experience. You meet a lot of wonderful people. You share your experiences, your doubts, your fears, and it’s a good way to have a “first taste” of European Level.

Carmen: I would encourage people if they are interested in the organisational and internal aspects of AEGEE. If you have experience in your antenna and feel motivated, you can do it. The best thing is that you will learn a lot from working with that many different people.

As for whether we will see any of the subcommies as a Network Commissioner in the future depends on many things, but one thing is for sure: they all enjoy their work together with the Network Commission a lot!

Written by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-Koebenhavn