Luis Alvarado Martínez, former president of AEGEE-Europe 2012-14, is running for Vice President of the European Youth Forum. He discovered a lot through AEGEE and wants to discover even more through a bigger platform. The AEGEEan asked Luis some questions in order to find out if there is life after AEGEE.
The AEGEEan: It’s been a few months since you are no more the president of AEGEE-Europe. How did you feel leaving the House and everything after two years of intense hard work?
Luis Alvarado Martínez: Well, of course you feel a little sad when closing such an amazingly intense and such a passionate chapter in your life. Many memories or moments come to mind why it has been so worth it to live such an experience, and the great things you take with you after it. Now that I have had a little time to reflect, I am very happy and thankful for having been given such opportunity, and especially to have shared it with such a special group of people (each and every one of them in their own particular way). Then of course you have the feeling of calmness, no calls, no emails, and some time to think about yourself and future plans which is always nice. Last but not least you feel uncertain. Has my passing by AEGEE left a mark? Did we actually have an impact and change something? Have I contributed? What will happen with our work? All of the normal thoughts of an end of cycle, and which every Comité Directeur (CD) member has once he/ she finished his/her mandate. But having the great CD which we have coming after us, I can happily sleep at nights knowing that we have people who know how to get the job done.
During the lasts months I have tried to spend as much time at home with my parents, my sister, my girlfriend and my friends back in the Canary Islands. Lots of quality time and recharging batteries in order to be able to come back to the fullest. Also from the end of August, I have started my Master’s Degree in the College of Europe, in the city of Bruges (Belgium), which is the oldest Institute for EU Postgraduate studies in Europe, established back in 1948, after the Second World War, in the famous Hague Congress together with the Council of Europe and the European Movement, and even before the European Union itself, by legendary personalities such as Winston Churchill, Salvador de Madariaga and Paul H. Spaak. So I am very happy to have this opportunity to learn from the very “foundational and federalist” European center in the continent. I am not the only AEGEEan this year. I think it is the perfect post AEGEE environment for all of us who truly believe in the united Europe that our organization supports, so I would recommend any AEGEEan interested to approach me in case they are interested.
Now you are running for Vice President of the European Youth Forum (YFJ). What made you take this decision?
After being more than two years involved in the different processes of the European Youth Forum, working on a daily basis with its other Member Organizations (MOs) on different projects, and trying to improve the lives of young people in Europe, I felt the confidence to make such a step. During the last months, we have been able to gather a lot of support and back-up in order to have a strong candidature, representing the interests not only of AEGEE but of many other organizations. We think we can help bring the platform to a whole new level, and we hope that with my experience and the support of everybody we will make it happen.
How did AEGEE influence you in the decision of running for Vice President of the YFJ?
As mentioned before, after a long period of constant work with the Forum’s reality, its projects and initiatives representing AEGEE, you realize how much potential the platform has. If you imagine the Forum like AEGEE, but much bigger, being a platform composed of almost 100 organizations like AEGEE, you can imagine how powerful the impact can be. Being in the CD and representing AEGEE on a daily basis allows you to learn, grow, develop and be in contact with different realities. Unlike in AEGEE, the Forum is composed of many different ideologies, beliefs, ways of working, expectations, which makes it even more diverse than AEGEE, and sometimes very hard finding compromises and agreements. I guess that’s also the challenge and the magic of the Forum. Seeing the positive impact which we could have in a platform like AEGEE, of course was a big motivator to run for the Board of Directors of a bigger platform with more strength and more resources and even more challenges. If we are able to harmonize our efforts in the Forum, we can be extremely influential in the EU institutions, the Council of Europe and in the United Nations.
Do you think that being the winner of the “Young European of the Year 2014” will bring you some benefits in order to become the Vice President of the European Youth Forum?
Hopefully the recognition of “Young European” by the Schwarzkopf Foundation will be a good flagship in the elections, also showing how much AEGEE members are prepared in terms of skills, content and leadership, and how much having AEGEE as Vice President of the Forum could be a big added value to the platform.
You are a great example for AEGEE members and you will always have our support! Are you planning to still keep in touch with what happens in AEGEE, maybe taking part in some events?
Well those who know me, know very well what was my policy back then when I was in the Comité Directeur. I strongly believe that AEGEE’s leadership and strength lies in the youth, freshness, idealism, energy and certain level of nativity of its generations. So no, I will not be having an active involvement in the organization nor any official positions. I will of course come to Autumn Agora Cagliari to give our final report, and be around supporting the CD as much as possible, being a member of the Advisory Board, and available for members for whatever help and advice anybody might need. It will always be my pleasure to help AEGEE, in return for changing my life. But I believe that having older members (no matter how long their experience is) staying too long, and more than needed in the organization, covering positions, spotlight and taking active involvement in the internal “politics” of AEGEE, is very counterproductive and harmful. It is not healthy for the person itself (because it is also our responsibility to learn how to let go), nor for the organization. It is the young generation who must decide, dare to try things out and make their own mistakes. Older members and alumni, should be there to give advice and support whenever requested, and not when they think they should do so, and we should gather at the bar with mojitos remembering good old times. I will happily become member of Les Anciens d’AEGEE-Europe, our official alumni organization.
Written by Raluca Radu, AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca