Laia Garcia Montufo, AEGEE-Tarragona, on her involvement in several youth platforms

By | August 17, 2014 at 2:08 pm | People | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The last Member of the Month of July left many exceptional nominations and AEGEE members that stood out – one of them, Laia Garcia Montufo, is currently President of AEGEE-Tarragona, member of the Pool of Representatives and Liaison Officer towards the United Nations.

Laia has been nominated due to her involvement in several youth platforms. Moreover, she is now fully absorbed in the Travel Summer University organised by AEGEE-Tarragona and AEGEE-Valencia, which is due to start on the 15th of August. And still, she is currently working on her thesis, as she has studied Architecture and Urban Planning with a minor in Sustainable Development.

Presenting a message from the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon at the   Autumn Agora Zaragoza

Like many other members in our Network, Laia joined AEGEE right after her post-Erasmus blues. “Erasmus is a lifestyle, which I suppose many AEGEEans know. During my exchanges I got to know a lot of people around the world, I made friends, I travelled and I learnt how to live on my own or with other nations in a foreign country”. But Erasmus also has a difficult side, as she says: “After returning, I was missing the international vibe so much that life back home seemed utterly boring. Soon I realized that in my city there were also a lot of Erasmus students, so I started looking for them and I found out about the existence of a group who helped foreign students. Of course, I joined it right away!”.

And it was not long until she got in touch with the European level of AEGEE. It was back in May 2012, at the final conference of the ‘Where Does Europe End?’ project in Utrecht. According to her, it might be the best event she has ever been to: “I remember thinking to myself: I am skipping a full week of classes before the finals… but after a while I just understood there are times when the benefits of skipping class are greater than the negatives as I was actually learning more than at the university! These trainers taught me how powerful Non Formal Education (NFE) can be and that learning experience triggered in me a strong desire to become active at European level”.

The Spanish Youth Council (CJE) and its situation

Laia has been very involved in the past year with the Spanish Youth Council (CJE in its acronym, from Consejo de la Juventud de España), mostly in the Structured Dialogue process, an instrument to ensure that the opinion of young people is taken into account when defining youth-related policies of the European Union by bringing together young people and the policy makers across the EU. She was involved at the national consultation in Palencia last January, and she was also chosen as Spanish National Youth Delegate to attend the EU Youth Conference in Thessaloniki in March.

On holidays!

“Unfortunately, the Senate has just given green light to its closing as it has definitively approved the text of the draft law concerning the Rationalization of Public Sector, which regulates the closing of the Spanish Youth Council with the support of the comfortable majority of the People’s Party and the abstention or the vote against from the rest of the opposition groups”. Laia explains about the situation concerning the CJE, which was threatened of being closed by the Spanish government. However, she adds, “at the very last moment, two amendments proposed by the People’s Party and endorsed by the rest of the parliamentary groups were passed, where two important points concerning the regulation of the CJE were modified, so the framework improved with regard to the initial proposal”.

She adds that, luckily, none of the more than 60 organisations that are involved in the CJE have given up: “A new framework must be found, but until the creation of the new organism that replaces the CJE, we must be careful not to have a period of time without a platform that canalizes the youth participation.”

The World Youth Conference in Sri Lanka

Moreover, last May Laia took part at the World Youth Conference in Sri Lanka, where young people from over 170 countries gathered together with Ministers of Youth from around the world, high-level officials from the UN and other civil society organisations and the private sector, around the topic of the next development agenda beyond the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire in 2015. The outcome of the conference was the Colombo Declaration on Youth.

According to Laia, for the first time youth representatives were included as equal stakeholders: “In my opinion, WCY 2014 was unique with regard to the degree of youth influence over official negotiations. Rather than youth meetings in advance of negotiations and producing separate outcome documents, this conference produced a “joint declaration” endorsed by both youth and governments. It was definitely a compromise between these two ends: but an important one at that, because now we have a commitment from governments to implement the recommendations enshrined in this declaration”.

She adds that, as a result, “the declaration has strong language on youth engagement: for example it calls for the establishment of a permanent youth department within the United Nations with representations in member countries to support and follow up local youth programs and also calls on the Secretary-General of the United Nations to establish a permanent forum on youth, for youth and governments to facilitate a sustained dialogue including on the Post- 2015 Development Agenda”.

3rd Council of Members of the Great Silk Way

The Great Silk Way organisation

If all of her activities and involvement have not been impressive enough, Laia recently became representative of the Great Silk Way International Youth Union, an organisation established in 2012 in Azerbaijan which connects more than 30 youth-led organisations from Asia, Europe and North Africa based on and designed for strengthening intercultural dialogue, cross-border cooperation and increasing role of youth in these issues on a global level.

She was elected as the focal point of GSW in Spain. These focal points are youth organizations or active young individuals “who coordinate the activities of GSW in that particular country. This means we ensure participation of local young people in international projects organized by GSW, make sure to disseminate information on opportunities (youth exchanges, volunteering, internships etc.) that can be useful for young people”, Laia explains. “In addition to this, the focal point has the right to initiate and coordinate national or regional level projects and events with the support of GSW. Basically we become the voice of GSW in our country at the same time feedbacking on the needs of local young people to be then reflected in decisions taken by the organization on high level”.

…and still, time to devote for AEGEE!

AEGEE-Tarragona members at the Agora

Laia’s involvement in youth platforms doesn’t stop her from being very active in AEGEE. As president of AEGEE-Tarragona, she is currently very busy organising the Travel Summer University in cooperation with AEGEE-Valencia. She has done a big task by promoting the European level in her antenna, since there are some AEGEE-Tarragona members that have become active in bodies such as the Language Working Group, the Eastern Partnership Project and the Action Agenda Coordination Committee. “I try my best to minimize the gap between my local and the European level. Therefore, I keep the members updated about all the relevant information on the many opportunities our association offers throughout our local meetings and social networks”.

According to her, AEGEE-Tarragona has around 30 members, “but the core team of the most active ones is smaller, so it is easy for me to be in contact with them and try to motivate everyone to contribute. Also, the fact that I am active on the European Level  makes things a bit easier when it comes to promotion as interested members can always come to me and ask for personal advice. And you know what? Some people just need a little push!”

When asked about her future plans, Laia says she is currently finishing her tasks as Liaison Officer towards the UN and the Pool of Representatives, but she plans to keep involved both in the local and in the European level. “Wait, I forgot something!”, she adds. “I do know one of my next steps in AEGEE! After having organized two Summer Universities and one Summer Event… I think next year will be about time to apply for my first Summer University as a participant!”.

Written by Anna Gumbau, AEGEE-Barcelona

Comments are closed.

© The AEGEEan, 2011-2013