New Policy Officer Pablo Hernández: “Education is the key to progress”

Pablo Hernández joined AEGEE-Alicante in 2010 due to his wish to travel abroad. The year prior to that, he traveled to Iceland for a big event being organised in the North and from that moment he realized how amazing it is to share experiences with people from different cultures. His first Summer University was in Leiden 2010 and today he can call himself policy officer on Youth Participation.

The AEGEEan interviewed Pablo about his time in AEGEE so far in which he has been president of his antenna AEGEE-Alicante and very active on the European Level of AEGEE as well.

The AEGEEan: What have you been doing in AEGEE?

Pablo: It took me more than one year to get active in AEGEE, but from that moment I have not stopped. I became a board member only three months after meeting my local. I took important responsibilities assisting the secretariat. After the Spring Agora Alicante 2011, there were experienced people who made it easier in these first steps. The following year, I became president of AEGEE-Alicante and I also took active part in the organisation of some events such as the 10th Anniversary of the antenna, Tabarca’s diving event or the Summer University.

At the European level, I have been member of the Education Working Group (EWG) and the Europe in Exchange (EiE) project where I am coordinator of an action. I will be also collaborating with AEGEE-Thessaloniki this year taking advantage that I have moved there!

Why did you apply to become Policy officer on Youth Participation?

One of the most important topics in AEGEE is to develop an active citizenship and encouraging people to take part in the social live, including political affairs. I believe that we have to fight for an improvement of the current situation and react against the actions taken to limit these rights. I am really motivated and aware of the situation so I want to contribute to the improvement of this aspects.

So what will you be doing as a Policy officer on this topic?

As Policy officer, I want to continue reinforcing and implementing the work done by former Policy Officer Felipe González Santos. If we work in the same direction, we will be able to go deeper and obtain better outcomes. This will allow us to have a stronger position in the different discussions that will take place concerning Youth Participation topics. As a policy officer I want also to let the Network know what is our work, why we are important for them and that we work for the interest of every member, so I will try to spread results, get closer to each hot situation and be the bridge between youth participation problems from the members/locals and the political position of AEGEE-Europe.

What do you do when you are not working on AEGEE matters?

Now I am doing my Erasmus in Greece and I try to take advantage of every second of this great chance. I like going out with friends to a café and spend 2-3 hours following the “χαλαρά” spirit (“take it easy” in Greek). About my studies, I am about to graduate law, so I will be studying hard and I will combine it with Greek language lectures.

You have been part of the Education Working Group for a while also. What makes you interested in this particular topic?

I believe that education is the key to progress. In AEGEE we are all part of the same thing, Europe, but we have very different backgrounds and cultures, so what makes us understand each other is education. This association is a great promoter of the non-formal education as we both teach and learn, break stereotypes and open people’s mind without books or strict lessons.

The Europe in Exchange (EiE) project had a little bit of a slow beginning, but is speeding up at the moment with lots of promotion. How do you see the future of the project and what is your part in it?

The first steps in the project were to build it up with solid structures. We have finished this phase and now it is the time to implement our actions. We need a strong collaboration from members and antennae, so I encourage everybody to come and contact us.

In EiE I am responsible for the coordination of an action that strives to increase the exchange agreements among universities, as AEGEE is a good platform to put in contact two different universities.

You have been president of your antenna, AEGEE-Alicante. What did that experience give to you?

Being president in AEGEE-Alicante has been the best experience of my life. I has been a challenge from the beginning because we do many different things at the same time and the coordination sometimes is very demanding. It couldn’t be possible without the help of my mates.

I learnt about team building, distribution of roles and responsibilities, leadership and, of course, to deal with difficult situations.

There are many people active in AEGEE-Alicante, how do you motivate them in AEGEE-Alicante?

First of all, our team is not only a group of people that organize activities but it is also a group of friends. It is very easy to work in an atmosphere in which everybody is walking in the same direction.

And secondly, we engage a lot of people in organizing some events during the year. After that, usually, they get motivated and they request more, so we inform them about the different possibilities that they have within the whole AEGEE. We mostly use our website as a platform to inform people, there are always a lot of articles explaining what we do and which are our different activities. It is in Spanish, but you can have a look:

How do you encourage them to join the European Level?

This should be a natural thing. We provide all the information that they need and we explain a lot of different experiences about it in order to motivate them not only in local affairs but also in European activities. For a long time we have had strong representatives in the different bodies to whom the members can ask many questions.

You have been working on having collaboration between AEGEE-Alicante and ESN (Erasmus Student Network) in Alicante. Why do you think it is important for different associations to collaborate?

The relation between AEGEE-Alicante and ESN-Alicante was not good. There were strong differences. I personally met the current president of ESN-Alicante and I explained to him what we do and why a collaboration between the two of us is a positive thing and now we have some common projects.

This collaboration makes both of us stronger in the University, and we can organize a huge variety of activities such cinema forums or tandems courses.

You are currently doing your Erasmus in Thessaloniki, what made you choose Greece?

I chose Thessaloniki mainly because some time ago I went to the Summer University in Athina (2011). I can say that the event was very good, and it really made me fall in love with the Greek culture and meeting a lot of Greek people. They always want to enjoy social life, not taking so much care about money, styles or other secondary things. That is exactly what I am looking for now.

You also recently took part in the Network Meeting (NWM) Thessaloniki, what was that experience like?

It was the first event they organised in a long time and it was a complete success. The trainers did a great job. The idea was planting the seed for the development of these antennae and starting to work. Now they have a better communication systems and also a more solid structure. There is a lot of work to do here, but if they keep on this line, they will improve soon.

You will also take part in NWM Eskesehir, what is it that you like about taking part in NWMs?

I want to take advantage of living close to Turkey (10 hours by bus to Istanbul). To see and to meet the people who are running the Turkish antennae and to know what they are working on. Sometimes we only focus in the organisation of locals near us and it will be a great opportunity to break this wall and see other working formats.


Wrtiten by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-København