In their Facebook Page, you can read that the Network Commission is always open. This is not far from the truth! The NetCom has been established in 1996 and it has been caring and serving our Network locals for 21 years already. In Autumn Agora Chișinău we elected six new Netcommies, who, together with Network Director Tekla Hajdu, are working hard to collaborate, protect and look after our locals. We asked them some questions and here are the answers of Kristina Reshetova, Gabriele Scollo, Stanislav Mahula, and Mareike Ritter.
The AEGEEan: Please introduce yourself.
Kristina: My name is Kristina Reshetova, I am from AEGEE-Moskva and I was elected as a member of the Network Commission at Agora Bergamo.
Gabriele: Hi everybody! I am Gabriele Scollo, a proud member of AEGEE-Torino and former member of AEGEE-Firenze, the antenna that made me passionate about our organisation. I am 27 years old and I will graduate in February in sustainable tourism management.
Mareike: Hi, I am Mareike, a member of AEGEE-Heidelberg living in Leipzig. I am in the middle of my Bachelor’s on Studies of Religion and I was elected NetCommie at Agora Chisinau. I am responsible for: AEGEE-Aachen, AEGEE-Bamberg, AEGEE-Darmstadt, AEGEE-Düsseldorf, AEGEE-Erfurt, AEGEE-Frankfurt am Main, AEGEE-Heidelberg, AEGEE-Kaiserslautern, AEGEE-Karlsruhe, AEGEE-Köln, AEGEE-Ljubljana, AEGEE-Maastricht, AEGEE-Mainz-Wiesbaden, AEGEE-Mannheim, AEGEE-München, AEGEE-Osnabrück, AEGEE-Passau and AEGEE-Stuttgart.
Stas: Pryvit/Cześć/Ahoj! I am Stas from AEGEE-Kyïv, the responsible for Ukrainian and Polish speaking locals, currently finishing my Erasmus in the Czech Republic, so I more or less have to manage communication with those three languages [he smiles, ed.]. My teammates call me “The baby commissioner” because I am the youngest there, but I think it is even better to experience all this awesome AEGEE stuff when you are young. I like what I do in the Network Commission, so all my doubts are gone for sure.
What is the strongest point of your assigned locals? What are your plans for the locals in your area?
Kristina: My locals are located in different parts of Europe such as Turkey, Armenia, Russia, Georgia and Belarus. I think the strongest point is motivation and desire to do what you love despite on challenges real life throws towards us. By that I mean, for example, the Summer of 2016 when some SUs in Turkey were under threat or even cancelled. Or constant lack (huge lack) of participants in the events of Russian locals. How many of you know that there are locals not only in Moscow but in Samara, Ryazan, Rostov-na-Donu, Voronezh, Tuymen? And they are doing amazing events by the way! My plans for this term did not change a lot: I still plan to visit my locals before Agora. There are some other thoughts, but let’s see if I manage to make all of them real before my term ends [she smiles, ed.].
Gabriele: The strongest point of my locals is the ambition of always aiming at doing better. This year will be no exception and I see that many locals are already planning training courses, thematic activities, amazing Summer Universities and more! All I have to do is support them in any possible way. An aspect I would like to improve is the visibility of AEGEE in general, especially towards universities, that too often ignore our locals.
Mareike: Hm, that is hard to say. Generally, the majority of the locals have a good internal structure and most of them have a good number of motivated members. But I definitely want to focus more on HR as recruitment itself might not the biggest problem for some members (though for some it is), but actually making new members stay active in AEGEE in order to have a healthy change of generations. Here I think good and interactive training courses, a well though-through knowledge transfer concept as well as mentoring systems can make a difference.
Stas: My locals are more or less close to each other (the closest two are just 25 km from each other), so what I see is a very good communication between them: they organise common events or just visit each other for local events. And yes, speaking about local events, this is one of the strengths of my locals. They usually have very good and big events on a local level, so my plan is to promote the European level more. That is why my team and I will start promoting the Twinning project very soon.
For you, what is the meaning of the NetCom Motto “To Serve and Protect”?
Kristina: First of all, it means dedication and commitment. I think once you are a Netcom you cannot be connected to just one local. You start to think more globally and you take care about at least 12 different locals. It may sound silly and trivial but you do become parents, trying to treat everyone equally and be sure that everyone is happy, has enough events and participants, does not have internal problems and feel motivated to surprise members of AEGEE all around Europe.
Gabriele: It means that the locals do not have to see us as a sort of bureaucratic body that only asks for reports and checks criteria, but as a resource, they can use to fulfil their projects and their potential. Of course, I am not saying that bureaucracy is totally useless, as in order to do our job properly we also need some information.
Mareike: The NetCom’s job is – like no other European body in AEGEE – to focus primarily on the performances of antennae. So “To Serve and Protect” means to me that we are not making antennae feel comfortable with what they have and do (although of course, some antennae are doing an excellent job), but instead challenging them and making them strive for more by keeping an eye on them, giving them some guidance and also guidelines and connecting them with others. That is the point for Network Meetings, to exchange ideas and ways of working and by that to inspire and motivate members to come up with something new.
A day in the NetCom shoes. How does your typical day look like?
Kristina: Uuuh! Sometimes I think that I can define myself as a walking laptop! Also, I am falling asleep with my phone and the first thing I do when I wake up is checking my e-mail. But every day is different. Sometimes your day is full of Skype meetings, one after the other, some other day you just check the local monthly reports and answer e-mails. But you are always talking with someone, checking or doing something. Moreover, you always have time for having fun with your fellow Netcommies.
Gabriele: Mostly in front of a computer so far (I am starting to really hate Skype), but soon spring will come and I am planning many trips!
Mareike: Honestly, I have a quite laid-back schedule for university so my day does not start too early. But then there are E-Mails to be written and answered, Skype meetings to be arranged and held, posts on Facebook to be created and of course internal work regarding our work plan or other issues to be discussed. The advantage of it is that I can do that anytime, the disadvantage is, that you sometimes “forget” the work you have to do for the university.
Stas: A day in the NetCom shoes. How does your typical day look like? Tortures, stress, pain and suffering 24\7. Of course, it is a joke [he smiles, ed.]. It is endless communication, emails, and joy of discovering new horizons of AEGEE together with my team and my locals. So basically it is the same it would be without NetCom – chatting on Facebook, sending or posting something. But in my case, it is certainly not a wasting of time!
Why did you decide to run for a place in the Netcom during Autumn Agora Chisinau?
Gabriele: Because during my two years of AEGEE experience I had the opportunity to work closely with previous NetCommies and other people at the European level of AEGEE. Despite being people with very different ideas, their dedication inspired me to also put myself at the service of the locals. I am not an expert on many things, but I am very good at networking and creating synergies, so I cannot see a better role for myself.
Mareike: Being an AEGEE member, you often have to deal with many different kinds of issues. Bureaucracy, recruitment and too much work can easily take over the fun part. The only cure against these struggles is to be shown again what AEGEE is about: to gain skills, exchange ideas, make them concrete while connecting with people from all around Europe. I believe that the Network Commission plays a crucial role in that: Network meetings, LTCs and RTCs, Skype meetings and exchanges – these are the occasions during which one grasps the power of our borderless cooperation. I wanted to not only take part in that but also facilitate these occasions in order to give something back to the network.
Stas: I do not know actually. It happened very naturally, frankly speaking. It was just another day, I was thinking about joining some European Body in order to direct my energy into something useful. But then I saw the Open Call for this position, and no application from my Network. And then I decided to try because there was a chance, there was me. Match? Probably. So far I have not regretted it, not even for a second.
You met in Brussels for your team meeting. How did it go? What were the main topics of discussions? Funny moments that occurred?
Mareike: The weekend was intense with five hours of sleep and an average of 12 hours of work per day. But it was worth it: we became a team during this weekend, we shared loads of fun moments and we had a lot of worthy discussions and sessions, some of them together with CD. And if anything goes wrong, such as #babycommissionerfellasleep, #oopscommission will find a suitable meme and/or hashtag.
What is the Netcom Plan for Chisinau-Enschede Term?
Mareike: We will continue some projects of the previous term: tWinder, Contact toolkit, mentorship system and antennae criteria reform. We want to finish them until Agora Enschede. We will also work on internal education, such as the RTC reform implementation and on some guidelines for the local distribution. Besides that, AeGeENDA will be a great new project and our 20th anniversary should be properly celebrated – stay tuned.
You can read their Activity Plan here. Do not forget you can attend one of the ten Network Meetings that will take place this spring in Thessaloniki, Debrecen, Nijmegen, Torino, Yerevan, Gdansk, Bamberg, Novi-Sad, Heidelberg and Bilbao.
Written by Erika Bettin, AEGEE-Verona