In this month of November you will read about how Agora Zaragoza was, how we retook our tasks after coming back to Brussels. You will find also one more contribution, since our new CD Assistant Louise joined us at the end of November. Winter has slowly arrived to Brussels, days are shorter outside but in our office, they seem to be longer. A lot of traveling this month, with many NWMs, external conferences and events to attend. Enough with the introduction, let’s get to the point!
November started with a very motivating and productive European level meeting after AGORA Zaragoza. After that I had some time to be in Brussels attending different meetings with stakeholders, and focusing on developing the long term policy and advocacy strategy of AEGEE-Europe. I also started working with the video makers on the script for the official AEGEE-Europe video, and preparing everything for the new edition of the Europe on Track. I flew to Spain for the anniversary of the Spanish Youth Council in its 30th year of existence, supporting them towards the Government to avoid its closing. Then I had a chance to spend a few days at home in the Canary Islands to rest.
I flew back directly to Brussels and then I flew to Thessaloniki to the Council of Members (COMEM) of the European Youth Forum with our Liaison Officer Marko Grdosic. During COMEM we could approve different new policy papers of the Youth Forum, and had fruitful discussions about future statutory changes in the platform.
Right after I was back, it was the European Youth Week in Brussels, and I represented AEGEE in the Review Conference of the Structured Dialogue (SD) where representatives from the youth sector and from the Youth Ministries agreed on a set of recommendations to improve the SD process. We are very happy because, after one year working hard in advocating for the inclusion of INGYOs (International Youth NGOs) like AEGEE in the Structured Dialogue (before only National Youth Councils were involved), finally we achieved a clear recommendation to the Ministers of the EU about including INGYOs as full actors in the process, coming from all the stakeholders was sent. This is a result of the great work of all the INGYOs pushing, and AEGEE has had a clear leadership in this advocacy process. To end the month, I communicated intensely with the UN Liaison Officers team, preparing all the work plan for the year, and dedicated some time to the last preparations of the Europe on Track results booklet, which you can all enjoy online here.
As you know, the first days of November, I was in Zaragoza for the General Assembly, where I could present some of the initiatives I am especially working on, such as the Policy Strategy for AEGEE, the work on Non Formal Education etc. It was really nice to be able to discuss and share what is going on in the network for a few days. Right after, I spent a few days in Brussels, during which I was mainly preparing for the Y Vote Convention on Youth UnEmployment in Agrigento, where I went as a Trainer. I spent there almost a week, very fruitful and interesting, to come up with recommendations of our members on the topic of employment and how youth organisation can contribute to tackling this issue.
The rest of the month, I have worked hard in the follow-up on some initiatives we are leading, such as the creation of the Franck Bianchieri award, as well as communication with the Association of Franck Bianchieri’s friends, who want to collaborate further with AEGEE. I have spent quite some hours in working with the new team of the Quality Assurance Committee (formerly the Events Committee), and we are still developing the internal structure and guidelines that we will share with the locals as soon as possible.
Apart from this, I also attended the NWM in Santander, spending again three days together with members, sharing initiatives from AEGEE-Europe, discussing also the state of the area and trying to find common solutions. The rest of the weeks, I have worked on my daily tasks and with the internal bodies that I am especially focusing on, such as the policy officers, the Academy etc. Externally, there is a lot of new information regarding the upcoming Erasmus + programme, thus I also tried to keep myself informed, in order to share the latest developments with the locals soon.
November started at Agora Zaragoza, which was extremely busy but also quite successful for me, with 2 of my proposals being adopted and all the financial reports and budgets of AEGEE-Europe approved. Back in the office, I was working on the follow-up of the Agora: dealing with reimbursements, bookkeeping collected membership fees, sorting out non-disclosure agreements signed by newly elected people, and so forth. One of the nicest moments of the follow-up was reading the activity reports of Agora participants supported by Social Responsibility Fund (ASRF), to see how those members were inspired by participation in our main statutory event, and what are their plans for the future now. This gave me personally motivation to continue with ASRF initiative to be able to facilitate many more trips of this kind.
At the same time I was taking care of further search for the host local for the Autumn Agora 2014, and as a result of two more reminders we received two very valid applications, which we’re still evaluating but going to make a final decision on them very soon, so stay tuned!
Meanwhile, together with Madalena I was preparing the round table in the European Parliament about the role of the International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations (INGYOs) in the Structured Dialogue on Youth Process of the European Union (SD), which was taking place right before the general evaluation event of SD process, and therefore was aimed on finalisation of the list of recommendations for recognition and further inclusion of INGYOs in the process.
In the end of the month I also started preparation of EBM together with the Chair team, Lucille, Miguel and our newly elected content managers. In parallel I was finishing my preparations for the Network Meeting in Wien, which took place the very last days of the month and gave me lots of inspiration and new ideas, with its very international team and very interesting discussions about HR, new Strategic Plan, quality of events and the new perspective project coming from that part of the Network soon.
The last week of the month though was quite challenging for me in the emotional sense, since my thoughts all the time were coming back to the situation that my country – Ukraine – faced on 21st of November and the days after. From preparing the reaction-support of AEGEE-Europe together with Alla Resheten and Armenak Minasyants, to following any kind of news on the daily basis, I was and I am more than ever in the spirit with all those Ukrainian citizens who went on the main streets of the biggest cities of Ukraine to support their right to choose, their right to decide what future they want for their country . I’m deeply concerned with the last reactions of the government, and hope that some time soon the demands of the citizens finally will be met and democracy will govern again.
The Agora proved challenging and exhausting, but rewarding, with all of our proposals and suggestions accepted and lots of valuable feedback from the Network. Thank you for that! We spent two more days in Zaragoza at the European Level meeting, where lots of ambitious plans were drafted. After coming back to Brussels, I used the remaining days for recovering and catching up with emails.
On Sunday, I started travelling again to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, for a meeting of UNetBA, a project which fosters exchange between Universities of Europe and Northern Africa, where AEGEE has the role of communication to students. During two days, we discussed the details of the project and set a strategy. After coming back, I was working on the preparation of the Leadership Training, which will take place in Brussels in January, working a bit on the follow-up of the Agora and giving feedback to Pavel for the AEGEE Communication Strategy. We had a Skype Meeting with most of the Liaison Officers, refining the strategy for this year and agreeing on goals. I also attended the first meeting of an interesting new initiative of the European Movement International (EMI), where we are members, which will call for a change of the treaties of the European Union. Already more than 30 organisations, members and non-members of the EMI, are participating in this initiative, which will kick off before the European Elections 2014.
On 24th of November, a new addition to the team joined and we welcomed Louise as our assistant for Fundraising and the Y Vote bus tours. The month finished with the EMI Members’ Council, their own “Agora”, which I attended in Den Haag, together with Paul from the Pool of Representatives.
November was the last month of the endless travelling after the quite similar month of October. The month has started at the Agora in Zaragoza, Spain, after which the two-day-long European level meeting I was personally involved in organizing. With 34 participants, covering all the European level bodies, it was almost like a small post-event. Fortunately, not only the meeting was extremely efficient, but after finalizing the minutes with the help of many people (Ana Potocnik, Antonija Parat, Pauline Letard, Roland Papp, Erika Bettin, Lea Charlet, Kathrin Renner, Jorge Miguel Vielva and John Eikosidekas), the discussion continued being vivid online. I also would like to say millions of thanks to Sara Alcolea from AEGEE-Zaragoza, for her precious help with the logistics!
After the Agora, I headed South to work on the YVote convention in Agrigento which focused on the youth (un)employment in the context of the upcoming European Parliamentary elections in 2014. The last event abroad this month was NWM Poznan, where I held sessions on the internal organizational matters (such as the new Strategic Plan and the third Action Agenda, the updated Identity) and I also moderated the open session on recruitment and retention processes in each local; and on European matters, especially on advocacy and policy strategy of AEGEE in the European context.
In between these events, the work has started with the new Speaker team of the Network Commission and the Human Resources Committee, and there was always a lot to discuss! Moreover, we have NetCom Meeting in Brussels in the first weekend of December, so the preparation has been taken quite a lot of time.
PAVEL ZBORNIK – European Institutions and Communications Director
November was for me a month of strategies of which I’m working right now on, namely the Communication Strategy of AEGEE-Europe, which will try to cover all means of communication in and outside our organisation. Another big document/strategy which I prepared (with contributions coming from the European Level meeting after Zaragoza Agora), and it is now being discussed on the European level, is the communication strategy for statutory events, which will be hopefully implemented already for the EBM.
Then I was working on OMS (Online Membership System) documentation, at this point I can announce that the design of the system has been updated and a detailed description will follow, to be ready to discuss it with ITC and later with all the network.
Concerning the network, I prepared a survey for locals to get information about the realities of their cities, which later on will be used to make an analysis of what is the environment which is more favourabel to have a healthy AEGEE local, which will be a very useful input for creating a Network Development Strategy. Lastly I attended a conference about Erasmus+ and the new points related to Higher Education, and at the end of the month I traveled to Turkey to the NWM in Eskisehir.
MIGUEL GALLARDO ALBAJAR – Projects Director
November started with the Agora and all its meetings, plenaries, workshops and for me, the most relevant part was approving a Strategic Plan for 2014-17 that I firmly believe will serve as a guide and inspiration for the Network in the next years. Thanks to all who worked on it, gave feedback and supported it by voting. Then we had a short but intense European Level Meeting still in Zaragoza where the active members of AEGEE-Europe bodies shared ideas and created new initiatives that hopefully will become a reality soon.
I traveled to Paris for a weekend to attend a rugby match between France and New Zeland, and the following Monday I joined the Youth Summit on Employment, held parallel to the Intergovernmental meeting on the same field. Unfortunately, I cannot share big advances on the topic, but we will continue working on the topic inside AEGEE and within the European Youth Forum.
I spent quite a lot of time during this month dealing with the visa preparations for my trip to NWM Rostov-na-Donu. As a member from a Schengen country, it is not something I have to deal with personally but this served me as a reminder of how necessary it is to work on the Visa Issue in AEGEE. This is one of the topics we discussed in the NWM, apart from the sessions that were common to all NWMs. It was for me a good experience, seeing the reality of a small local so far from nearby AEGEEans, but at the same time so full of AEGEE spirit. And for a passionate traveler like me, the whole trip to Rostov-na-Donu, with a personalised city tour to Moscow and endless hours in a Russian train where we could discuss new projects was a special experience, far from the hop on-hop off plane trips we are used to by now. Thanks to Ksenia and Dasha for making it so special. And for planting the seed of the Transiberian Dream in my mind.
MADALENA SOUSA – Research and Administrative Officer
This was a month more focused on administrative things regarding the Project I have been working on: “Certification of the Qualifications of the Youth Workers in NGOs – road to greater recognition of the Youth Work” . I was launching the Call for Stakeholders in order to create the pan-European Database, which is one of the outcomes that this project intends to have, and it aims to the development of a database and network consisting of contact details and basic information about youth Stakeholders throughout Europe, as well as youth workers, to meet the existing demand and supply of work in all participating countries and beyond, and to allow youth workers to find employment or volunteer work in case of a need.
I was giving some content feedback on some processes that AEGEE-Europe is following regarding Education on European Level. Specifically on EUCIS-LLL position and Compendium of Good Practices: “Opening up Education for a new learning ecosystem”, and on the policy paper of the European Youth Forum on “Quality Education” that was later approved in their COMEM. As I am giving support to the internal process in the field of Education, I have followed the developments regarding the Summer University project and contributing on the management and re-thinking the education field inside AEGEE.
Another challenge and opportunity was presented to me and I gladly accepted: working and collaborating with the Project Erasmus Voting Assessment. If you are interested in knowing more about the project please have a look at our website or follow the development of the project and its initiatives through our Facebook page.
My first week with the Comité Directeur was actually quite busy as I had to take care of many things, starting with my first trip to Ikea to get my bed with Kathrin, that turned out to be much more difficult than we would have thought…
Apart from that challenging experience, with Kathrin and Luis I took care of logistical arrangements for the Y Vote Bus tours in Croatia, the United Kingdom and Spain by contacting potentially interested people within AEGEE as well as external bodies, revising the journeys, starting to contact bus companies, etc. I also got involved in the organization of the Leadership Training that will take place in January, the most challenging part of which being finding a suitable room for the training in Brussels, but we managed!
In addition, I helped with the organization of a study trip to Toulouse for the Erasmus Voting Assessment Project (EVA), which aims at measuring how having been an Erasmus student influences – or not – the voting behavior of young people. I therefore contacted universities in Toulouse and AEGEE-Toulouse to reach the Erasmus students from the “Pink City”, and since this project is organized in collaboration with ESN and Generation Europe Project, we also contacted their representatives in Toulouse so we could get better visibility in the city. At the moment I am writing this, we are still unsure about the outcome of this, but we’ll know pretty soon!