Damien Latacz for Medcom: “We All Mediate at Some Point, Especially in AEGEE”

27 years old and from France, Damien Latacz from AEGEE-Aachen is ready to run for a second term in the Mediation Commission. He has been living in Germany for the past four years and he is studying Metallurgical Engineering. He loves to cook and hike, and he loves winter. One term in the Mediation Commission was very satisfying for him and he found that it was “the balance between self-development and helping the network”. 


12605402_10153507452808897_2322527530278642697_oThe AEGEEan: Why did you decide to run for a position in the Mediation Commission?

Damien: I like working in the Mediation Commission. It is both challenging and rewarding. Challenging because you have to adapt yourself to others and modify your perception to be able to help. And rewarding because you can actually help people in difficult situations. This is a job I like, and I want to continue it.


What is the thing (or are the things) you are most proud of in your previous term?

Without hesitation, the team. We are really different people, with different ways of thinking, and we complement each other to get an impartial and objective understanding of situations.  I am also quite proud that we started developing trainings and visuals, but that is more for the long term, and I hope the next teams will continue in this direction.


For several years now, candidates for the Mediation Commission have put “Visibility in the Network” in the programme, without reaching apparent results. What is your feasible idea to reach this visibility?

It is indeed difficult to be visible when we are not allowed to talk about much of our work. This year already, thanks to our workshops, more people know that we at least exist! This year, I would like to find a way to make Data Privacy more interesting. Not just the DPPS, but in general. I hope when people will realise how important and impactful data privacy is, and how knowing about mediation can improve your daily life, they will be more interested in the MedCom. It is something we have to change in our association in the long run, and knowledge about it will bring visibility.


medcomAn interesting point of your candidature is “Improve the knowledge of the network about basic mediation techniques” stating that you have already started this in some NWMs. Can you please explain it further?

Mediation is a huge field, with many different theories and techniques. It is a mix between communication, psychology, languages, etc… We all do it at some point, especially in AEGEE, but we don’t realise it. If you know about it, you can improve your work, and the satisfaction you get from it. The workshop we created is really about the basics, but hopefully it helps people think actively about it, not just in AEGEE, but in their everyday life.


Do you think that mediation skills are underestimated in an association like ours?

Absolutely! People usually think of mediation as the last solution in case of a serious conflict, but you can use it every day. In our association, we work in teams a lot, with people from different cultures, and this can lead to some misunderstandings. We also work on Facebook a lot, where the things you can say are limited. Mediation skills help you detect this, and work towards better communication, which means better work.


Once again, there are not enough candidates for Medcom. Since probably this interview will go out when you will still be the only candidate, explain why (motivated) people should apply for Medcom.

12733456_1039015552822610_5330899837623882469_nBecause it is something you cannot have anywhere else in AEGEE. You do not just help people, you also learn a lot yourself. Skills that will be valuable for your employers, for relationships, or even just for yourself. And the challenges and cases we have, push us to improve ourselves to be able to help. If you do your job well in MedCom, you will help the Network and come out a better person! Who would not want that?


Related to that, why do you think people are not applying for such a position?

As I mentioned in previous questions, I think it is a combination of not knowing what we do, and not seeing how impactful it can be on our work in general. I hope that by improving the knowledge of the network about the topics we work on, more people will be interested.


DPPS is very complicated to understand and to develop. What is the status now? Do you think that the timeline you set in Agora Bergamo is feasible? Do you think that, provided that you will be elected, you can push the implementation further?

First of all, a reminder that MedCom is not responsible for the implementation, we just help people respect the rules. Currently, the Commissions do follow the DPPS. The OMS is late, but when it will be there, it will solve many problems. Maybe some parts of the timeline will be a bit delayed, but in general, it is feasible.13217393_1114213135302851_6658399519108625749_o

The OMS has always been the main problem, because we don’t have that many people interested in creating it, and it is a huge workload. But we are one of the biggest associations in Europe with an IT system that is completely outdated. It holds us back, we need to realise this, and MedCom will surely continue lobbying for a better structure.


What is, according to you, the job of a good Mediation Commissioner?

First, you have to be open minded and patient, to help people in conflict understand each other and work together towards a resolution. Second, you have to keep updated on Privacy laws and agreement, to check if the DPPS is still up-to-date, and help people in AEGEE understand and follow the rules. Two sides of the same job: one more neutral and helping, the other one more active and explanatory.

You can read his full candidature here.

Written by Erika Bettin, AEGEE-Verona