Somewhere in Brussels, near the European Commission, you can find a house that looks just like most other houses in the city from the outside, but contains a lot of rooms, people and ideas on the inside. What house am I talking about? The AEGEE house, which the new Comité Directeur has been calling their home since the 1st of August, when we moved in to start our work. “What is that work about?”, you may wonder, and probably other members wonder too. Read on to find out!
My alarm clock is set at 8:15 am. Fortunately, the distance from my bedroom to the office can be covered in less than one minute and there is not traffic jam that keeps me on my way to my desk – apart from some bathroom congestion. Once in the office I try to follow some sort of routine to make sure that the day will be fully effective: calendar-check; news-check; emails-check. Our life in the office gets basically full with meetings and more meetings, and emails and more emails so there is little time for the remaining creativity tasks that in some cases consume also our night and resting time.
In this Comité Directeur we have tried to divide our portfolios in a way that we share the workload and that the tasks are distributed according to our knowledge and motivations. In my case, I have quite a big field to cover which is Youth Employment that as one of our focus areas has a Working Group linked to it. I have to monitor the most relevant happenings related to Youth Employment in Europe and participate in activities to show what AEGEE stands for. Also, linked to this field, I’m the project manager of the MY-WAY project which is a Horizon2020 project funded by the European Commission striving at innovation in the web entrepreneurship ecosystem in Europe. Now we are in a phase where we have to develop an action plan for a city to improve the engagement and effectiveness of Student Support Centres.
Another big part of my time is spent on IT as I have to coordinate the development of MyAEGEE (the new cool name of the OMS) and in general, all the IT related things. In this sense, Anna Gumbau, the Communication Director, is also taking a piece of the puzzle as she is managing the content of the Members Portal and the aegee.org site and she is developing a brand new website that will hopefully be released soon. MyAEGEE will drastically change the way we work online in AEGEE so there is a pool of people led by Pavel Zbornik and Fabrizio Bellicano working on this.
The third pillar of my task distribution is the External impact overview. In this area I don’t play alone as it’s a task that is also distributed among the rest of the CD members. On the one hand, we have funding that can be corporated in which Ander Guerrero, the Financial Director, and me have to contact companies looking for sponsorship opportunities; and public funding that refers mainly to monitor grants as the EYF, Erasmus+, DEAR and others to later on help writing the applications. On the other hand, there is the soft external impact in which the main tasks are to advocate for AEGEE’s beliefs based on the approved papers and to be seen as an organisation to take into account for youth and students rights.
External Relations Director is a fancy name to say that I have to coordinate the different AEGEE bodies that are in touch with externals and also to have an overview on the different relations we have with other organisations. Therefore, we can differentiate two sides:
1 – The coordination of AEGEE bodies means that the Pool of Representatives, the Liaison Office and the Working Groups need to be briefed in the activities they participate in on behalf of AEGEE Europe. The new structure of the Working Groups has an external vocation having within the team a Policy Officer and a Working Group coordinator, so as External Relations director, I have to assess the development of Policy documents that they produce, their representation in events and the external outreach of their activities.
2 – The overview of AEGEE relations with other organisations is linked to the fact that the massive structure of AEGEE requires the entire board to get those organisations divided to increase our impact. My tasks as External Relations director is to structure and have an overview of which are the developments in the relations with those.
One of the highlights of the events I have participated in recently is the Council of Members of the European Youth Forum (COMEM of YFJ). AEGEE is full member of this association, and even represented in the board so it was a great experience for me to understand how the biggest umbrella organisation that gathers National Youth councils and International Youth NGOs works and how our voice can be heard.
On a playful side, this house every day is an adventure. Imagine that constantly you are living with eight other people who are almost non-stop travelling around Europe and you also receive almost every weekend a team of five or 10 people who increase the chaos in the house. It was very funny for me when we receive some members from AEGEE-Kyïv in the house and I got to know that they knew me as Mr. Fixer, because every time someone from the Ukranian local came in the house, I was repairing something as the fridge, computers, kitchen shelves… Maybe I’ll be a real handyman in the future.
You can read his interview part one here and part two here.
Written by Pablo Hernández Rodriguez, External Relations Director 2015 – 2016