Meet the ‘mommy’ of our network: Svenja van der Tol is our Member of the Month

Red hair, blue eyed Dutch-German girl with a really positive personality: Guess who? We are talking of course about Svenja van der Tol (AEGEE-Nijmegen), in three words: hyperactive happy and caring. No doubt about that! We can confirm her hard work just by taking into account her engagement both on the Local and the European level of AEGEE. She has been also called mommy by the AEGEEans she worked with because of her caring personality. For these and many other reasons Svenja has been elected as Member of the Month (MoM) of December. Do you want to know more about her? Check this out!

The AEGEEan: Hi Svenja, you’ve been elected as MoM, congratulations! How do you feel about it?

Svenja: Very, very happy and thankful, especially to Ruben Navarro (AEGEE-Tarragona) who wrote a very sweet (and very unexpected) nomination! Of course I’m glad in the end I was elected too, but the nomination alone was already enough to make me really happy [She smiles].

Did you expect this nomination? Why?
Honestly, I didn’t and I was a bit shocked at first when I found out. I know that I am doing quite a lot of things in AEGEE, but I don’t feel like I am doing something super exceptional like the things former Member of the Months have been elected for or that I’m unique in the AEGEE Network. However, I’m still very happy I was nominated, because it does feel good to get recognition for the work you do, even if you don’t think it’s that special yourself.

Who is actually Svenja van der Tol?
I’m a twenty-two year old Dutch-German girl, who lives in Nijmegen, where I followed my Bachelor in Dutch Language & Culture. In January, I will be starting an internship in communication, which I’m looking forward to very much. Other than that, I love to travel, wear dresses, meet new people, talk, talk, talk, write, read, eat and sleep. Fun fact: my favorite animals are cats, even though I’m allergic to them, which I used to deny when I was younger because I wanted to keep my cat, leading to me always looking like I had a cold as a kid.

Tell us three words that describe you the best.
Happy, caring, hyperactive.

Since when are you an AEGEEan? Why did you decide to join our network?
I joined AEGEE-Nijmegen in Spring 2012, because I was looking for an association without the so called “ontgroening” – initiation rite in which the newbie has to do embarassing stuff during his/her introduction period – many associations in the Netherlands have. Next to that, the travelling part of AEGEE really attracted me, so after the introduction period I decided to become a member and shortly after Ι was elected as Secretary of the new board.

Can you briefly introduce to our readers your experience in AEGEE, both on the Local and on the European level?
I started as the Secretary of AEGEE-Nijmegen in 2012 – 2013. After my board year, I stayed on as advisory board for the newly elected board, but I wanted to do more, so I decided to explore the European level too. I started as a Journalist for the AEGEEan, later becoming Editor of the Network section, where I met Erika Bettin (AEGEE-Venezia). Not too long after, we decided to apply to be Editor-in-Chief of the Key to Europe together. Around the same time, I became SubCommie to Lia Tuska (AEGEE-Sofia) and after Autumn Agora Cagliari Boudewijn Steenhof (AEGEE-Leiden) for the Dutchspeaking locals. Because I wanted to do more with the thematics of AEGEE too, I became a member of the new Action Agenda Coordination Committee (ACT) in July, where I am the Project Manager of the Guidelines. During the last Autumn Agora in Cagliari I was elected as Secretary of the EPM and Agora, so right now I’m busy preparing the upcoming statutory events with the Chair Team. Meanwhile, I’m also active on the local level, where I’m Incoming Responsible for the second year for our Summer University and I am President of our Europe committee, which recently organised a Network Meeting of which I was Main Organiser. I think this is more or less everything [she laughs].

What is the activity/role did you enjoy doing most in AEGEE? Why?
Right now, I think I have found a good mixture of different activities, covering all the different aspects of AEGEE, so I can’t really pick one favorite activity among them. However, in the teams and events I have been in, I tend to be very caring and I often get called mommy, so I think my favorite role would be the mama.

You are involved in so many activities. Where do you get your energy from?
Probably from the amazing people I have the pleasure to work with, who never fail to motivate me to do more and better, some of them also becoming good friends. It probably sounds like a cliché, but I truly believe that if you do what you love most, it won’t feel like work and you will be happy to spend a lot of time on it. Of course, sometimes I’m tired too (the fact that I’m a night animal doesn’t really help), but since the people I work with often are also my friends, I always have a place to go too and relax so I can recharge my battery again.

How about your plans for the future and your life beyond AEGEE?

As for my life beyond AEGEE (if there is any), I would like to become a travel journalist one day, writing articles or even books while travelling all over the world. Within AEGEE, there are still a few things I would like to do, but I think the most important goals are to stay active, be happy, travel around Europe and meet a lot of new friends.

Written by Larisa Smajlagic, AEGEE-Verona