Key to Europe – bosses at glance

The AEGEEan met Erika and Svenja, the two Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Key to Europe. Funny and professional, these girls answered all our questions to let us know something more about them. Hello Kitty and fairy tales, dynamic and crazy: discover how they enjoy writing and what their plans in life are.

The AEGEEan – Name, Surname, Local and your favourite quote

Svenja: Svenja van der Tol, AEGEE-Nijmegen, Per aspera ad astra (through difficulties to the stars ed. ) or “Hello Kitty isn’t a bunny?” Depends on how intellectual you want to portray me.

Erika: Miss Erika Bettin from AEGEE-Venezia. I have tons of quotes I use as a mantra, but my life style can be summarized as “I keep on making bad decisions, hoping for a positive outcome“.

The AEGEEan – You’re going to lead the next edition of K2E together. Where did the idea to work together come from?

Erika: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. Me and Svenja started talking about the way we saw journalism and life and we instantly got along. When I saw the open call I thought it would be amazing to apply, so I shared this idea with her and we said: “Let’s do this!” Key to Europe is amazing but at the same time massive and it’s beautiful to take this journey with someone as crazy as you are.

Svenja: What would the Italian pasta be without a good sprinkle of Dutch cheese? Well, there’s your answer. The first time Eri and I started talking we immediately knew we wanted to a) marry each other, and b) work together. Coincidentally the open call for the Key to Europe came around the same time, so we decided to join our forces and make the power team work.

(Considering this answer too boring, Svenja provided us a fairy tale about it ed.)  “Once upon a time, an Italian and Dutch girl met each other in The AEGEEan Palace, where both happened to be working as Editor Princesses. The two started talking about a Royal Article, and soon they found out that not only were there many similarities to be found among them, but they also completed each other in their work. If the Network Princess got caught again staring at the wide, wide AEGEE pool of ideas, it was the People Princess who put her feet back on the ground, and if the People Princess felt a bit down, there was always the Network Princess to cheer her up. Coincidentally, around the time that the two decided to name themselves the Power Team, Queen Kathrin of the magical Comité Directeur sent out her white horses to find a new Queen-in-Chief for her castle, also known as Key to Europe. The two princesses, both being passionate about writing, decided to apply to make great things happen, and they lived happily ever after in Key to Europe.”

The AEGEEan – Do you already have experience in a similar position?

Svenja: Technically, I was Editor-in-Chief of my high school magazine (because nobody else wanted to start it up, honestly), but I don’t think it was as serious (or wide spread) as the Key to Europe. Next to this, I have been the coordinator of a team of reviewers before at a thriller book website, which included setting deadlines, searching for new members, kicking asses and writing articles about anything related to books (interviews, newsletters, etc.)

Erika: I started more or less ten years ago when I was Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper. Then I decided to get more serious in journalism so, a part of majoring in Communication studies, I worked for a local newspaper and TV channel. In 2012 I started working for the University of Padua as journalist and author/speaker in the local University student radio. Usually I’m coordinating the work assigning tasks, deciding the topics, setting deadlines and reminding people: “You do this, and by saying do I mean it should have been done yesterday”.

The AEGEEan – What’s your idea of K2E?

Erika:  Key to Europe is where the Network shows its best achievement to both members and externals. I want this Key to Europe to be something in which each member can identify himself and his work, but at the same time something where you can learn something new about the projects and the external relations that AEGEE has. In a few words: I’d like to see members browse it and exclaim “That’s what motivates me!

Svenja: Key to Europe is the best way to represent AEGEE, both towards our own members to know what exactly happened in this giant network of awesomeness and also towards externals who have no clue what AEGEE is and can learn more about it through the Key to Europe. Therefore, I highly appreciate that we will have a part about what AEGEE actually is, but also different parts about the last year specifically. To me, it’s a combination of a yearbook, AEGEE for Dummies guide and a lot of awesomeness (hopefully).

The AEGEEan – How many people do you count to involve?

Svenja: Ideally, I would of course like to involve all AEGEEans (fresh members or golden oldies), but this wouldn’t be a realistic number to work with as a team. For the team, therefore, I’d say “as much as needed to deliver a great job”.

Erika: We received a lot of great applications and formed a team of 15 people. I must say that I’m pretty happy with the team since we got both experienced people and fresh blood. But the publication is something that should include the entire Network and we’d like to involve as much people possible. So… brace yourself, more mails are about to come.

The AEGEEan- As a couple, who’s going to be the tough one between you?

Svenja: Eri, definitely, and I am glad she is. I’m too scared people will hate me to really yell at them, so I try to get them to do the work with a lot of compliments, positive spirit and… begging. Eri will save both of us a lot of time by just saying things the way they are.

Erika: I have the sneaky feeling that Svenja is going to answer my name. I’m without a doubt the toughest. She is spreading #svenjaoptimism and I’m the one setting deadlines. This is actually good, because we complete and balance each other.

The AEGEEan – Besides the AEGEEan, are you used to write? (For a newspaper, a blog, a diary, flying papers, messages in the bottle, etc).

Erika: I started writing when I was four because my grandpa thought me and I’ve never stopped since then. I was involved in the high school newspaper, logbook for the scout trips, writing plays,  ghost writing for a website, satirical blog with a couple of friends and author/speaker for the student radio station. One of my favourite sounds ever is the one that the keyboard makes when you type during the night.  It could seem strange to people that don’t know me very well, but I’m more comfortable in writing. Everything I’m thinking just streams down in a very orderly way and not as messy and confuse as when I’m speaking.

Svenja: Yes, when I was young I already wrote stories about my dad being a giraffe with a laptop, and later on I wrote about more serious topics (sometimes). I have written reviews about thriller books and movies, but also wrote about different topics (including, of course, travel stories) on my own blog that I sadly didn’t keep up with because I still enjoy reading my teenage rants. Next to this, I have written for the local magazine of AEGEE-Nijmegen and of course The AEGEEan, where I’m an Editor and Proofreader. Last but not least, I have published an article in a national newspaper before which I am very proud of but I can’t impress AEGEEans with because most of them don’t know Dutch.

The AEGEEan – What is the funniest article you ever wrote?

Erika: Normally I tend to be very technical when I’m writing articles, so I lose a little bit of my normal sarcasm.
Recently I was asked to write an article about people who gives flyers. It was such a boring topic that I transformed it into a guide to recognize and avoid them. The secret for me is having fun while writing and the article will just be funny.

Svenja: For my Journalism minor, I once had to write a fictional biography. Where my classmates took the chance to win a Nobel Prize or become the next Scarlett Johansson, I decided to become a Brazilian serial killer. Although I surely do not hope to ever end up like that (and I don’t think it’s possible since I’m not Brazilian), I did enjoy writing about it a lot.

The AEGEEan- How did you join AEGEE? When?

Svenja: I joined by filling out an application form, in March 2012. I actually joined the introduction period in 2011 already because I wanted to experience the student life and I liked the fact that they promoted travelling. Because I was still living in Leiden at that time, I couldn’t attend the activities so I didn’t become a member until I had a room in Nijmegen. A few months after my application I was elected secretary of the new board, and I fell in love with AEGEE during my board year.

Erika: I joined officially in November 2011, but I already knew the activities of AEGEE-Venezia for some times. It wasn’t love at first sight, I must admit, and it was more a favour done to my friend’s boyfriend. After watching Agora Enschede in streaming and attending a Summer University in Patra, the story changed.

The AEGEEan – Do you have hobbies? Life besides AEGEE?

Erika: I do love AEGEE but I have to take some free time from the lovely madness it brings. I honestly don’t have much free time because I often work during nights, but I just adore going to the cinema. It’s the only moment where I turn off my mobile phone. And If I’m particularly sad, tired, nervous or angry I just love to take long walks with some good music on in my favourite place: a villa near where I live.

Svenja: There is a life besides AEGEE? At the moment I am actually a board member at an umbrella corporation for international student organisations in Nijmegen (also involving AEGEE), so I try to divide my time between this, AEGEE, university, friends and my bed. If I have some free time left, I also like to practice Zumba (although not as often as I’d like), given by my former boardie, and to read good books.

The AEGEEan- Tell us a funny story about yourself.

Svenja: There’s too many to really pick one to highlight, but to give you a hint: I have been forbidden to consume sugar by certain friends because I start acting like a lunatic, my nickname is Jigglypuff, I have a tendency to fall down stairs at the most awkward moments and I do not have any knowledge about geography at all. If you want to know more, you should just come and talk to me during an AEGEE event.

Erika: Let’s start with the basics: I’m disgraceful. I’ve the rare gift to do and say the worst thing in every situation. And, apparently, I don’t have any sort of balance and I always fall, even while standing.

Lately the level of my dumbness reached a new high with the “airport affair”. I just arrived in Kyiv and my mother asked me “How was your flight?” and I replied to her “I’ve just landed. Fun fact, there is a police man in the aircraft”. Everything was normal until my mother called me quite angry because the T-9 of my phone decided to write ARRESTED instead of LANDED, words that in Italian are quite similar. Everybody is still laughing about that, my mother excluded.

The AEGEEan – Usually such position brings more visibility within the Network. So tell us: are you in a relationship?

Erika: Yes, there is someone very special in my life and his name is Cleto, my laptop. He knows all my secrets and we spend probably 20 hours together per day. I will actually choose him over some humans I know.

Svenja: Yes, my bed and I have been together for almost twenty two years now and I think we will marry.

The AEGEEan – If you could make one wish true, which one would it be?

Svenja: To make a living out of writing and travelling, by being a travel journalist or local reporter for the news. While having that awesome job, I want to go back to Brazil and drink a lot of guarana.

Erika: Being able to fly. Being up in the air for me means starting to breathe again and since the human beings are not designed to do so, the closest thing is to become a commercial pilot. And of course I wish for peace in the world.

The AEGEEan – When you are involved in something, what is the most important to reach your goal?

Erika: I can think only of one word: commitment. I came to understand that you can’t reach what you want with only good intention and the words “I will”, but you have to be truly engaged and devote to the cause.

Svenja: A team that is just as motivated as me to work for it, dreams to achieve something great and a lot of sugar since I like to work while normal people sleep.

The AEGEEan- What’s your favourite newspaper / blog / source of information? Why?

Svenja: The only printed newspaper I read is a Dutch one, namely NRC Next, because it gives me the information I want. For the more internationally oriented news, I like BBC News and sites with weird-but-true facts (don’t ask).

Erika: Every morning I have a routine: opening probably twenty tabs with newspapers from all over the world. I like to check what is happening and if something catches my attention I read it. Moreover, I have an application for my phone that gives me constant updates on what is happening worldwide. Not to mention the fact that Facebook is a precious source of citizen journalism.

The AEGEEan – Anything else you would like to add?

Erika: Let’s do a little bit of promotion! Like the Key to Europe fanpage. We know we already spammed a lot, but we promise it will be worth it.

Written by Alfredo Sellitti, AEGEE-Salerno