During Spring Agora Bergamo, we will also vote to elect five members of the Network Commission and one of the candidates is Aleksandra Mojsova from AEGEE-Skopje. She is currently a SubCommissioner for Jovana Trajkovic and Assistant Coordinator of the Youth Activism and Youth Policies Programme of YouthCan. Now the 23-year-old Macedonian feels ready to cover a position on the European level.
The AEGEEan: Do you think becoming a member of the Network Commission can get you more experience in AEGEE?
Aleksandra: Most definitely. However, my basic motivation does not come from gaining more experience. I simply feel like I have been very close to the matter, and after all the knowledge I have accumulated, this is the field in which I can leave a mark and help the network to develop further. Of course, this is not necessarily the only way to get more experience. I believe that there are more experienced AEGEEans that not only did not apply for this, nor for any other position, and this did not happen because they are less competent or capable, but simply because they have a different idea and have their own authentic way of applying and transferring their knowledge or expressing themselves. However, personally I feel that I caught the vibe of our network, its passion and motivation, that are driven by the AEGEE spirit that got me at once.
Besides, having the recent problem of the lack of NetCom candidates, provokes a sense of responsibility in me. The good work of the previous AEGEEans, who invested so much of their time for the network, should not be simply let go of, it must be continued – the show must go on.
What were your tasks as Jovana’s SubCommissioner?
First thing about a Network Commissioner is availability for your respected antennae. Reliability and having your locals know that they can always rely on you with any difficulties that may arise is simply a must. Subsequently, a SubCommissioner must be reliable at any time for the assigned locals he or she is responsible for. Therefore, my tasks as a SubCommissioner are primarily to push my locals for the monthly activity reports, inform them on a regular basis about upcoming events, answer to any questions they have and encourage them to apply for events or to join different European Bodies, co-organising Network Meetings (NWM) in the process of choosing participants and content development, helping with organising extra activities such as ‘Stafeta’ as well as helping my NetCommie in promoting events in the online group for the active members of our locals. Finally, I have socialized with my locals and I became good friends with them so much so that I became a member of one of the locals I was responsible for, AEGEE-Niš. I have always seen my task as a pleasure and not as a job to be done. In that sense, I really managed to identify the challenges they might be facing and offer my support in working them out.
Can you explain to us what “Stafeta” is?
The name ‘Stafeta’ comes from a Yugoslavian huge event, roughly meaning a marathon. ‘Stafeta’, however, does not have anything to do with running. ‘Stafeta’ is a mixture of Network Meeting and training course, mainly for newbies, where participants actually share best practises but also acquire some knowledge. The idea behind it was to have the Balkan version of ‘Renove’. This was firstly implemented by our previous Network Commissioner Ana Potocnik, mainly because of her idea to integrate Balkan locals, getting them closer to each other, namely, the newbies with the older, experienced members, but also for Balkan youngsters to get to meet each other. Although twenty years ago we were living in the same united country, now we hardly know our similarities or differences.
However, the event is open for everyone who would like to know more and therefore meet the Balkans, because with the ‘Stafeta’ we cover subjects that can be of everybody’s interest. This year, though, the ‘Stafeta’ had a more intercultural accent, so it was more or less like an exchange. ‘Stafeta’ is an event that adapts the needs of our locals, and I support it very much.
Why do you say several locals get highly demotivated every once in a while? What would you do to avoid it?
Unfortunately, we had to downgrade some locals due to the lack of criteria fulfillment. This was not easy for us, for our NetCommie, its SubCom team or the Network Commission in general. This can however happen for various reasons: financial problems of the local, lack of human resources, or lack of information and motivation. Often it happens that the main reason behind extincted antennae is that experienced members simply did not take care of having motivated successors, or any successors at all, which leaves the local in shaky hands, or no hands. Primarily, I would set an equal distribution of tasks between my SubCommissioners, in order to ensure that every local gets the attention it needs. I would support and centralize the struggling locals during my mandate. I would give priority to communicating richly with the members of the less strong locals first, set expectations and mutual goals, ask and give feedback, speak with every board member separately, advise them on what could be done towards a certain problem they are facing, and help them to organise creative events that would motivate the students and create a bigger visibility at the same time. Different strategies might bring different solutions for different locals. But once they learn, feel or even sense the AEGEE spirit, they shall become way more driven to keep standing, keep going, keep growing. I could supervise, support and guide them in the process, which is not easy nor promising to necessarily bring a success, which would make the effort all the more rewarding if we manage to do so.
What are you going to transmit to locals with online trainings?
Online trainings are certainly going to be voluntary and only for those willing to participate. I am very much aware of the pros and cons of an online trainings. This is not the ideal solution compared to a live-trainings, but putting a warmer accent on it, might help for sure. I would like to cover various subjects, depending on the local needs and what we have to offer. It might be a perfect possibility to connect locals to European Bodies, Working Groups, Projects, Interest Groups, or Committees. It should be useful and also funny, nonetheless if it is a one-time or a series of training sessions would remain to be decided. Board trainings come first, however. Every newly elected board will get their online training at the beginning of their term from an experienced Board member (a part of my SubCom team) that has been in the board for at least two years. Afterwards, assigned locals will be able to choose a subject they would like to get training for, choosing from a not too long, but sufficient list of trainings available, which they will be able to choose every once in a while, say, every season, depending on their weaknesses. My SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) analysis of the Balkan area locals, show that more or less, we all have similar, if not the same problems, which certainly helps the situation.
The purpose of the training is to focus on strengths over weaknesses, moreover, to turn the weaknesses into strengths. And put the accent not only on knowledge exchange and constructive dialogue between Board members, but also for non Board members, as they make a great deal of each local. “Whole is when it has it All” is my motto for providing a bigger engagement of non Board members for their merits that could only encourage and motivate them in helping their local Boards, which would lead to developing of the antennae, having self-development as a rewarding outcome. However, this could be applied not only between members of locals, but also between a local and an European Body. I would not set a number of required trainings, though, it will all be dependent based on an antenna’s needs.
Which kind of events do you have in mind in order to increase visibility of the locals?
Encourage them to apply for statutory events. If however, I get to understand that this is not very feasible for the next year, I would still encourage them to apply for thematic conferences, European Schools, and training courses. I would like to see at least two Regional Training Courses (RTC) during my term, which would be enough for all interested members to attend. I can say from my one experience, that this will only motivate and encourage them to go forward, depending on the trainers of course, but also on the topics covered with the given RTC. It will include the Academy, cooperation with all the projects and Working Groups in AEGEE.
Which “best practises” do you want to share?
From People to People. From AEGEEans to AEGEEans. This is something that is an ongoing thing in AEGEE, especially at the Network Meetings. There are some quite strong locals in the Balkan network, which can offer their experience. The current NetCom team already is taking care of this, namely they have started with Sharing Best Practices Skype meetings, the first one focusing on Human Resources, on recruitment strategies specifically.
Can you tell us the benefits of Twinning Antennae?
Well, as cheesy as it might sound – “the more, the merrier” and “united, we are stronger” I find it as a rather valid saying. In cooperation with another antenna, it is maybe more demanding, and more challenging to organise an(y) event, but it is more powerful and rewarding. Events, especially those that can contribute to the Strategic Plan as part of the Antenna Criteria, sound amazing by having the parallel impact in two cities, countries or even continents. Twinning Antennae help the locals to cooperate, achieve greater deals together by helping each other. It also increases the feeling of belonging – which is a natural human inclination. Furthermore, it helps to create and develop personal connections that might help the social well-being of the members individually as well as of the locals as a whole. But first and foremost, it is the santa-ice-breaker of stereotypes. Not to mention that you can learn about one’s local’s culture for a whole wonderful year followed by memories, or long-lasting connections.
Do you feel really ready to cover the position as a Commissioner?
After being a SubCommie for more than a year, I feel naturally inclined to take a bigger step forward towards a more responsible and engaging experience. I have met the last three Network Commissioners of my area. I had the chance to get a deeper knowledge not only from our current NetCommie, Jovana Trajkovic, but also from Ana Potocnik and others from the current Network Commission. Helping locals to understand their responsibilities and helping them in achieving those and even more, will help both them and myself to fully grasp our roles, and be ready for bigger achievements in the future.
Questions from readers:
How much time per day would you dedicate for the internal tasks of the Network Commission?
As much as needed. I have learned how to deal with my priorities a long time ago, and AEGEE has been at the top for quite some time now.
Given the fact that there are no fixed regions, which locals do you want to work with?
Well Balkan locals is something that naturally comes to my mind when I think of becoming a NetCommie. Of course, it might be easier in terms of having no language barriers and sharing the same Balkan spirit. Moreover, as a current SubCommie, I would like to be here to continue with Jovana’s work. I do prefer to work with Jovana’s locals, as I know them the best, I have all the required information and SWOT analysis for each and every one of them. However as I consider myself to be of a flexible nature, therefore I am sure that I can also be a very decent NetCommie even with another region. Since all of us AEGEEans are striving for a borderless Europe, I would not strictly keep my borders in only one region, in case I must.
Your program is very local oriented, but how about the work within the Network Commission? How do you think you can contribute?
I must say that though it is apparently not very clear in my candidature, both our locals and internal work of the Network Commission are of equal importance for me. As I very much support the NWM Reform, and I can so far only see the pros of its implementation, I would continue with the collaboration with European bodies in order to make sure that we support a comprehensive overview in the Sharing Best Practices continuous process. Furthermore, I would choose to focus on the NetCom newsletter or collaboration with European Bodies with the current NetCom team, and from June, per se, the new term, we will set our new plan for our term, so I would be happy to work it out with my fellow Network Commissioners.
What do you think is the thing you, as a Network Commissioner should work more with the locals in order to improve their lives?
Allow me to quote John Donne and say that “No man is an island”. This goes for me as a NetCommie, NetCom as a body, or any other body within AEGEE. In that respect, I would say that for sure I am not going to come out as a life saviour, a ‘never seen before NetCom’. It is mutual work and understanding that I would initiate. But, what I can devotedly offer is simply communication. Rich communication. With the locals, but also the locals between themselves. Communication prevents the possible misunderstanding between any personal or professional contacts. Once I get in contact with the members of my locals, I can be very supportive and act very motivating both for my closest and wider circles. Continuous mutual feedback, setting expectations, evaluating and re-evaluating, sharing and exchanging ideas, thoughts, encouraging and appreciating.
You didn’t mention Local Training Courses (LTC), despite the fact that it recently became a criterion. How would you ensure that locals will organise one?
One thing I am sure of, if I get to become the successor of Jovana Trajkovic, is that our locals have always organised LTCs. They have seen it as a criteria even before it officially become one at AgorAsturias.
As it is the best recruitment tool there is, I will make sure that all of my locals will have this information in mind, especially if they have any recruitment issues. We can work together both with the SubCom team and my locals for a PR strategy, that I believe would ensure a bigger turnout from the LTCs.
What do you think about the Network Meeting Reform? Do you think a standardized NWM will bring more pros or cons?
It is the best thing that could have happened lately. As much as I seem spontaneous at times, and act accordingly, when is up to my work, I prefer to have everything planned in advance and follow a certain structure, meaning that the NWM Reform might be also one of the many reasons that influenced my decision to run for a NetCommie.
You didn’t mention the Action Agenda (AA) or Strategic Plan (SP) in your program. How do you think the AA and the Strategic Plan can be more present in the activities of locals?
It might have not been very clear from my candidature, but I do not like changing it now, as the space for improvement should be shown, not written. Thе Strategic Plan, and the Action Agenda, is what I, we, and AEGEE consider an imperative. Though my experience (through working with different locals) shows that locals are free to do what they want, it will be much more relishing if, as a starting point, a common ground for all of us, antennae, contact antennae, or European Bodies, was found and we plan and share accordingly to the SP and AA, all-together looking at the same horizon, moving in the same direction. As I would not like to sound demanding, I would give each local the ability to choose their interest area of action.
You can read her full candidature here.
Written by Matteo Lai, AEGEE-Cagliari.