Member of the Month Anna Pykhtina: “You get inspired when you see real devotion to the work you do”

The closing plenary of Autumn Agora Cagliari 2014 will definitely remain one of the most special AEGEE moments for Anna Pykhtina (AEGEE-Kyiv), when she gave her first speech as Main Organiser of the upcoming Autumn Agora Kyiv 2015. “Smailikova”, as everyone calls her, is the current president of AEGEE-Kyiv and Training Manager of the upcoming Summer University Project School that will take place in Cluj-Napoca. With an endless energy and passion for AEGEE, she has been elected as our new Member of the Month!

The AEGEEan: First of all, congratulations! How did you feel when you found out about your nomination?

Anna Pykhtina: It’s sooo nice from you! But, honestly, I do not feel I really deserve it. There are so many great people that did much more than me…

Tell us, when and how did you join AEGEE?

I joined AEGEE in Spring 2012. Me and my best friend, Mariia Ponomarova (AEGEE-Kyiv), were in Bulgaria together in summer, after she came back from her first Summer University in Italy, and instead of having fun with me and other friends she was telling us about how amazing it was. Imagine: we are finally away from home, dancing, partying, swimming, we are happy and then she starts: “You know, in AEGEE, there were parties with 35 foreigners and we lived all together for two weeks, traveled around the county, ate Italian food and now I have so many friends who are willing to come to Kyiv and ready to host me!”. Instead of killing her, I realised that I had to apply as well! And then, after I attended my first and only Summer University as participant in Salerno, I came back knowing for sure that now I would like to give something back to the organisation.

And then my favourite part starts – both me and Mariia applied to organise the Travel Summer University in Kyiv in 2013 without telling each other and we were both elected as Main Coordinator and Incoming Responsible. 35 participants, five cities, a great team and an amazing experience! So, basically I became really active in the spring of 2013.

You have been very active in AEGEE. What has been your best memory?

That’s one of the most difficult questions I have been asked! But this year’s moment will be for sure the closing plenary of Autumn Agora Cagliari, when the results of who would be going to host the next Autumn Agora in 2015 were announced. I remember that I was sitting not far away from the stage, nervous and my friends were thinking  that I was preparing for the SUCT speech. And then the Comité Directeur said “Kyiv!”, and I could hear my local screaming and running to the stage, whereas AEGEEans from different locals, my friends, were standing and applauding as everyone could understand how important this choice was! It was unforgettable!

During the last Agora, you were the host of Agora Inspire. How was the experience?

Amazing! Although I will always have the feeling I could have done a better presentation or make more jokes, I really enjoyed it. From my first Agora in Mannheim where Agora Inspire was held for the first time, I wanted to perform on stage, sharing my experience or trying to inspire others. But the thing is that I could never choose what exactly I wanted to speak about. So, applying to become host with Réka Salamon (AEGEE-Debrecen) was the perfect solution!

Is there an AEGEE member in particular who has inspired you in your work? Why?

I am always inspired by other people and the amount and quality of work they do and talking about my friends in AEGEE, I can say that the majority of them are super cool. You can take the amazing Ksenia Lupanova (AEGEE-Moskva), whose creativity and dedication to AEGEE is tremendous; Jorge Sánchez Hernández (AEGEE-Dresden) with his non-stop desire to develop not only AEGEE-Dresden but to participate in other local and European activities too; Erika Bettin (AEGEE-Venezia) with all her efforts and achievements… And my personal list consists of more incredible AEGEEans, who are the best examples for me.

But, at the moment I am mostly inspired by my board members. We were working together before and during the Summer Universities. Some of them are board members from the previous term, some are only members for a year but I am really proud of the job they do. Elected in October, we are functioning like not only a team, but also friends. I feel I am super lucky to have all of them: Viktoria Leonenko, Olga Marrero, Yevgenia Gagarkina, Anastasiia Dzhulai, Daria Bielinska,Hanna Polishuk and Dmytro Piatkivsky, without any exceptions in the team and I hope that in one year we will still be friends with a lot of experience and memories.

You are now president of AEGEE-Kyiv. How do you motivate members to become active?

(I hope I motivate them!) I am the kind of person who does not like to talk about plans but rather to discuss the results and as I just started my term one month ago it is too early to say anything. The previous year was really difficult for AEGEE-Kyiv and most of the Ukrainian locals: more than four months of enormous efforts to continue the daily work, life and at the same time taking part in EuroMaidan actively, dealing with problems caused by the media and as result a decrease of motivation and activity of the members.

If in the past we were more focused on promoting AEGEE by Summer Universities and other European events, now we have changed the focus. My aim and the aim of the board is to make AEGEE famous among Kyiv students and youth by the high quality events, as a place to develop skills and platform to learn something new, not what they hear in universities. And with the current situation, since the government is more focused on the support of youth and NGOs, it can really happen.

Motivation is something that cannot be learnt, it comes from the heart and you will always feel if it is fake. From my experience, you get inspired when you see real devotion to the work you do and happiness when you see the results. And AEGEE is exactly this place for me now. I have no idea what will happen next in my life, for sure it is not the way it always happens, go to school, study in university and work, but that’s the beauty of life! I feel I am really lucky that I joined and became part of such an amazing Network where I get much more experience, memories and knowledge that is really useful in the nowadays world and I hope that I can share this happiness in a right way.

What about the Agora – have you started with the preparations?

Indeed! The preparations are going on from early Autumn, when I had lunch with the main coordinator of Autumn Agora Kyiv 2009, Kateryna Vronska. This knowledge transfer was really helpful to calm down as she answered my questions and gave really helpful advice. Agora was also one of the topics in our two-day knowledge transfer that we did  last weekend with the old and new board. And apart from weekly meetings with the team and oldies who are willing to help us, all of the board is focused on their own responsibilities. At the moment we are working on getting more support from the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Ukraine as well as from different foundations.

In three words, what is AEGEE for you?

Development. Inspiration. Home.

Training manager at SUPS, main organiser of the next Autumn Agora 2015, president of AEGEE-Kyiv. Do you have any future plans in AEGEE, other than that?

Not to get fired. Apart from AEGEE I also work in an event agency in Kyiv every day from 9 to 6.

At the moment I am totally focused on my local and the Agora preparation. I had to stop myself from thinking about going to the European level because the quality of the work I do now would suffer for sure. I wish there was more time in a day and I wouldn’t need to sleep as much as I do – there are so many things I literally do not have time to do in AEGEE. And I have a rule that if something has to be done, it should be done very good, otherwise I won’t even start until I have all needed sources – time, effort, people to help and a good mood. I do not make any plans about what will happen in one year – neither what I will do in AEGEE nor which country I will move to.

And how is Anna Pykhtina – how would you describe yourself?

Perfectionist, sarcastic but at the same time super optimistic whatever happens!

Which other hobbies do you have, other than AEGEEing?

Snowboarding, collecting postcards and cycling.

Favourite book? Song? Movie? Colour?

Colour – purple, and for the others it is difficult to choose one. Let’s say this November my favourite book is  “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. My song this week is “Left Hand Free” by Alt-J, and the movie is “Fargo”, which I started to watch a few days ago.

Written by Anna Gumbau, AEGEE-Barcelona