Maryana Semenyak for Member of the Comité Directeur: “People can Confirm That I’m Full of Energy, Positive and Smiling Person”

By | May 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Candidatures, People | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Maryana Semenyak is a candidate for a position of Member of the Comité Directeur (CD), preferred task External Relations DirectorShe is 28 years old and joined the organisation almost eight years ago (also being the President of AEGEE-Lviv for three years). Nowadays our current CD member is responsible for our Network Development and is willing to stay in office for a second term, but with other responsibilities. Check out her interview!

The AEGEEan: One year in the Comité Directeur can be very long, but now you are running for a second term. How did it happen? Is your motivation still as high after one year in Brussels?12

Maryana: Indeed, it has been a very long and tiring year. On the other hand, I’ve had lots of experiences, challenges and emotions, that is impossible to find in any other place. When I just moved to the house in July last year, I heard two comments about living here: one was – “You will be happy to leave this house in one year”, another – “Living here will be the best year of your life”. I followed the second suggestion. People who knows me can confirm that I’m energetic, positive and a smiling person. The good example about my never-ending motivation could be the time that I’ve spent in AEGEE-Lviv as president for three years. I joined my local when it was a Contact Antenna, and I wanted to leave the board being sure that my work there was already done.

In the last nine months, as Network Director, you spent the biggest part of your time with the Network Commission. How was this collaboration and what did you achieve as the Network Director?

Due to my task portfolio, I’m in constant communication with the Network Commission and the locals. Certainly a person who is holding this position should like to be in contact with people almost 24/7! Luckily, I do like this part of my tasks. It’s interesting to work with Network Commissioners because during one year you have possibility to work close with more than 20 people, as half of the team change in December and later in June after Agora elections. We have daily communications and Skype meetings a few times per week. I was very happy to have the possibility to gather all 10 Network Commissioners at a live meeting in Brussels in December. In my work I wanted to get focused mainly on sustainable and health development of the Network. Even though Antenna Criteria does not always show a complete picture of the status of the Locals, we can take a look at some statistics: more than 50% of the Locals fulfilled all Antenna Criteria, around 30% were missing only 1-2 criteria, like report, list etc, what was submitted after reminders, approximately 15% – were facing different small or bigger problems.

And what about the other task of your portfolio, the Human Resources management? What is the best result you got in this field?

Apart from Network Development and Network Commission, I’m also appointed to HRC (Human Resources Committee), YMWG (Youth Mobility Working Group) and SUCT (Summer University Coordination Team). Due to my portfolio and personal interests, I was also involved in work with other bodies. We are changing now Speaker team of HRC, and I hope soon with new members we’ll be back on track in HR field, although a big research and development was already done in previous years. According to YMWG, we have organized trainings about funding possibilities. Of course work towards Visa Directive is very complex and bureaucratic, and one NGO can’t really change the whole system, but we should keep working on that field. Third part of the Network is from non-EU countries. The last but not least body, where I’m appointed, is SUCT. I suppose you’ve already heard about new elected team and their work. They are very active and implementing many new ideas this year. For more detailed descriptions of my tasks, I would suggest to check my personal Activity Report for Agora Bergamo.

According to your candidature, your preferred task in the future CD would be the External Relations and you understood it during the last year. Is it not a contradiction for someone who was Network Director, therefore more focused on internal issues?

It would be a mistake to say that I understood to apply for External Relations during last year. It could sound like I’m not satisfied with position that I’m holding now. I like being in constant contact with Locals and work with different bodies. But when I started to consider about applying for the second term, I decided that I’d prefer to work with a new portfolio as doing new tasks in the Head office will keep my motivation very high. I like to learn new things and challenge myself. Second, external world was always interesting to me. I studied International Relations at university. I was always taking active role in society. During this year I was also attending events and conferences in Brussels and sometimes helping in contacting another NGOs and partners. I don’t see these tasks as contradiction, as internal world of any institution or organization, including AEGEE, doesn’t exist apart from external world. Being involved in internal work for nine months already, I believe that I have gained the necessary skills to hold external work of association.


You uploaded a candidature program four days after the deadline expired. Why did it happen? Was it a last minute decision?

My final decision was made on the last day. I applied being in my room, as I was looking for some personal time and space in the house, and connection wasn’t the best. As I was copying and pasting my candidature from word document, the last part wasn’t submitted successfully on time. But the same night I sent the missing part directly to JC asking to upload it, as I didn’t have access. Apparently, it took some days to communicate, and at the end it was uploaded.

What are the things you want to achieve, carry on or change in AEGEE external representation?

Our organization has multiple contacts with different NGOs, institutions and platforms. The role of External Relations is to monitor and to have an overview of the benefits and different opportunities, what AEGEE can have collaborating with them, and vice versa – contribution that AEGEE can provide to them. We should keep introducing AEGEE and its achievements to partners and another organizations, in order to maximize our impact.

You want “to strengthen the cooperation with NGOs like ESN, BEST, JEF, JADE and others” and “bringing External work closer to the Network”. How are you going to do it? Why should AEGEE locals be interested?

It’s not the first year that we are focusing also on closer cooperation with students and youth organization that have the similar scope to AEGEE. With BEST, for instance, we keep very good collaboration, our members are attending each other events. Together with other NGOs, we can organise common projects, share experience and ideas, best practices and knowledge, learn from each other. There are fields, for example Youth Mobility, where only by working together we can achieve some changes in Europe. At the end members of other organisations are also volunteers who are taking active role in European society like us. We should take advantage of this collaboration, not only between boards of listed NGOs, but also between our branches.

In your online candidature, you stated that you plan to contribute “in such crucial areas such as Youth Participation, Youth Employment and Youth Mobility“. Can you be a little bit more specific on what should be done and why are these issues related to the External Relations position?

These areas, apart from being focused on our current Strategic Plan, are also hot topics in Europe. The work on developing policy paper in Employment field is already done, in Youth Mobility – still in progress. As you might know, final task distribution is happening after knowledge transfer, depending on abilities of the team, and working in Comité Directeur obliges you to be diverse in your portfolio. These fields, that I’ve already mentioned in my candidature, are my preferences, where I would like to contribute. I would also like to empower AEGEEans being more involved in policy issues and active citizenship.


Five out of seven current CD members are running again for a position, how do you feel about the possibility of sharing the CD house with them again? Would you define the last year in the CD house a brilliant one?

Living in the house is quite challenging itself. You should learn how to respect each other’s needs and to compromise almost always. I would like to mention that I’m differentiating very clearly my working and personal space. And I felt myself comfortable in both. Probably my 7 years’ working experience is helping to organise and to structure my life in the house.

You needed a visa to stay in Brussels, but you had a lot of problems about this issue and still you don’t have it, missing also NWMs and EPM Leiden. Is it going to be solved if you get elected as External Relations Director? Are you going to be present in Bergamo?

When I was answering questions to my candidature at Agora Kyiv, I’ve received only one question: “How are going to work in Brussels if you are from Ukraine, as probably you will need visa?” Apparently it will stay the most popular question to me.

I would like to ask people stop perceiving it as my problem, as far as it is visa and residence permit bureaucracy problems in Europe. We are forgetting that Europe is not only EU countries, and main idea of AEGEE since the very beginning was Borderless Europe. I got the feeling (I hope I’m mistaken) that members are not giving enough patience, empathy and support in Visa issue.  The procedure of gathering all needed documents for long-stay is very complex and complicated. It started in August, and basically finished only half a year later in March. In total I prepared more than 50 documents. All my documents are successfully submitted, and I’m in the status of waiting for 2 months already, which is nothing in such situation.

If I would stay one year longer in CD, then procedure is easier – I’m just adding few updated documents to previous one. For Belgian authority positions that we are holding in CD are not specifically important, for them crucial document is our official registration in Belgium as Board members of NGO.

Of course my mood was very down in February knowing that I won’t be able to go to EPM Leiden or Spring NWMs. I was blaming myself that I applied for CD and now I need to go through this procedure. But then I realised that barriers concerning mobility of youth, and mine mobility in particular, cannot discourage me from my tasks and I can work being in Head office in Brussels.

I hope to see you all in Bergamo! But if not – then I hope my case will bring visibility to Visa issue in Europe and AEGEE members will work together in this field. We should bring awareness, deliver knowledge regarding the procedure, build understanding among members and support for documents of your friends around the Network.

State a thing you like and one you don’t like about AEGEE!11

Pros: Possibilities and challenges

Cons: Misunderstanding



How could you work in Brussels for one more year if you don’t have the permit to live there after nine months? Do you think it’s wise to apply for another year before settling this issue?

I arrived in Belgium with Schengen Visa, that I could use for my stay for the first few months. But according to 90-days stay regulation in EU countries, I was supposed to apply for residence permit. I was elected at Agora Kyiv in October, so I have received official registration as member of Board Directors in Belgium in December. Only starting from that month I could officially work on gathering all needed documents. I finished and submitted the documents in three months. Currently I’m waiting for a positive answer. Applying for second or more times for residence permit, or long-term Visa, costs less time and documents, and it requires only copy of already existing one and updates of relevant information. Actually another year should be much easier than the first time. More details about my document status are in my personal Activity Report for Agora Bergamo.
In case you once again don’t manage to receive your papers in time during a potential second term, how do you plan to go to external events in Brussels where your ID will have to be controlled (especially in the last months with the increase in control due to terrorism)?

First of all, I would like to clarify that I’m successfully managing my documents, but this procedure requires a lot of time due to EU and Belgium law regulations. And as I’ve already mentioned a few times, I have been waiting for the answer for two months. Applying for the second time is always less bureaucratic and much faster. I don’t have any problems with attending events in Brussels. I’m using my ID and I have Schengen Visa in my passport. But in order to be eligible to stay longer than 90 days in EU country, I was obliged to apply for residence permit. Once I arrived to Belgium last year I was registered in the municipality. And currently I also have registration number for my documents.

Will you be so active on Facebook during working hours again next term?

What is working hours? We are supposed to work 8 hours per day. But average time in the office is at least 60 hours per week. Responding to your question, it’s not a news that Social Media is a working space nowadays. Currently I’m using more than 10 groups, five chats and five pages regarding my work. I assume that external position requires less contact through Social Media, as Network Director. It will depend on where I could catch potential members of my bodies, share and find information, events and contacts relevant to my tasks. As an official communic15ation channel, I still prefer email.

How quickly do you answer e-mails?

I’m receiving approximately 30 emails daily, that I should respond, find the solutions or prepare some tasks regarding requests. Of course I’m trying to respond as soon as possible to everything, but due to workload and big amount of requests, it could take also more time.

You bring up your “perfect understanding of the structure, our strengths and weaknesses” but you didn’t give any examples. Can you please shortly describe our two biggest strengths and how we could use it more? and our two biggest weaknesses and how we could improve it?

Did I say perfect? There is nothing perfect in this world, but we should keep working on it. To me, as I have already mentioned in my candidature for Agora Kyiv, one of the biggest power, that we have in our organisation, is diversity! It can bring us achievements in different areas, establishing new projects, breaking stereotypes and building understanding, collaboration among us. Another big strength that I would like to name is opportunities, that AEGEE members can get through our organisation, opportunities in participation, in experience, and at the end in big changes.

Despite the fact that we are an amazing organisation, of course we are facing many different problems. Digging in archives I could assume that we have improved our administrative part of association. But unfortunately, we are working less with political impact. It could be only my opinion, but I would like to see us working more on hot topics that are happening in Europe and beyond, on different crisis and conflicts, elections and referendums, etc. The initiative should come from WG, Project teams, Locals and of course from CD members. The other weakness, that I would like to point, however it’s also common for another organisation, is non-recognition of volunteer practices. Currently we are working on it.

If you could only make one big change in AEGEE’s current state, what would you want it to be and how would you contribute to it in the position you are running for?

No barriers! No physical or participation borders, language or cultural borders. Nowadays we are still facing many barriers concerning Mobility of Youth in Europe. We should work towards educating and bringing awareness to our members about current problems, organising different activities and discussion tables, fighting against it. It’s a long term process, and sometimes our impact could be very small, but to me this is what AEGEE was doing and should continue. After receiving personal experience in field of Youth Mobility I would like to work more on Visa Directive inside the Network and participate in that field.

What part of your task as CD member did you manage to accomplish and fully fulfill during this year?

The main task of my portfolio was to supervise the sustainability of the Network, support locals and assure constant communication, what also required a big amount of my time for the administration, such as Antenna Criteria. I have focused on stable and healthy development of the Locals. It would be quite impossible to measure whether it was fulfilled or not, as far as this task should always be in progress. All detailed explanation about my tasks you can find in Personal Activity Report. Some examples that come to my mind are below:

  • Ensuring the same quality of sessions and implementing new application procedure for NWMs, together with Network Commission and CD;
  • Improvement of SU project, thanks to the members of new elected SUCT;
  • Printing Key 2 Europe in Kyiv within the budget and delivering it to Brussels;
  • Representing AEGEE and organising events in Brussels;
  • Support of Think before you Vink campaign;
  • Applying for residence permit, which is a very difficult and long procedure;
  • Improvement of living condition of the house!

13You mention that you were the “main responsible for all external events in Brussels this year”. Can you please elaborate? How many events? What was the content? How many externals were present?

So far three main external events were held: Handover ceremony, Back to Brussels and the AEGEE Day. I was responsible for the event for our alumni Network Les Anciens “Back to Brussels” in September, which is happening once a year in Brussels, we had more than 50 members participating in it. In April, I organised the event presenting AEGEE Day project for partners and externals in Brussels. It was very well-organised event. We combined three topics: presenting the history of AEGEE and its main projects during 31 years of existence, launching the AEGEE Day project and Europe on Track 3rd edition. We had more than 50 guests representing 15 different NGOs, institutions and companies. I was coordinating also some internal events in the house, such as the AEGEE Day activity on the 16th of April. I was responsible for organisational part of the Leadership Training Course.

Definitely I’ll be responsible for future events till the end of July, or longer if I’m elected.

If elected for external relations, will you be responsible for fundraising? What is your experience with corporate and institutional funding?

As you might know, task division is taking place in August, once all team finish their knowledge transfer, tasks are divided for new term. For instance, in our team we have three members who are in charge on fundraising. I have experience in fundraising on local level. I can’t assure now who will be main responsible, but I can contribute in this task.

Was your team aware that you decided to rerun?

Since the very beginning I announced to my team, that my decision had not been taken yet, and regarding this decision I’d need more time to think and to consult with my family and friends. Final decision was taken on the last day after conversation with them.

You can read her full candidature here


Written by Mattia Abis, AEGEE-Cagliari

Comments are closed.

© The AEGEEan, 2011-2013