Not only AEGEE-Utrecht should know Maria Zwartkruis, who is one of the candidates of the Network Commission. In this interview, you can read the successes of her life (in and out AEGEE) and know her more about her candidature as a Network Commissioner.
The AEGEEan: Tell us more about Maria Zwartkruis. What do you do? What do you dream about your future?
Maria: My name is Maria, I am from AEGEE-Utrecht and I am 21 years old. I almost finished my bachelor in Biomedical Sciences, and next academic year I will start my master’s degree in Neuroscience and Cognition. That is also what I dream of for the future: to become a neuroscientist. For the closer future, I will stay active in AEGEE, I hope I will be able to inspire and spread the AEGEE-spirit to as many people as possible, and to support the network of course. And what better way to do that than to become a NetCommie?
What is your AEGEE story? How long have you been working for AEGEE?
I became a member in August 2013. After being locally very active for almost a year, I attended my first European event, NWM Copenhagen, where I fell in love with AEGEE-Europe. Shortly afterwards I joined the board of AEGEE-Utrecht as an Assessor for European Affairs & External Affairs. At the end of that year, I joined the Key to Europe team, and rolled into The AEGEEan team afterwards. I have also been a member of the Corporate and Institutional Relations Committee, and I am currently a SubCommie for Loes.
Why did you join AEGEE?
Well, when I started studying, I was not actually planning to join any student association. However, during the introduction week of the university, I came across the stand of AEGEE-Utrecht, and their stories about travelling made me want to join. Also, when I attended the social drink for the first time, the awesome open-minded people made me want to stay!
What are your plans, if you are elected to the Network Commission?
The first thing I will do, is building a strong team of SubCommies. Besides relieving some of my workload, this also serves the purpose of knowledge transfer; maybe one of my SubCommies will succeed me as a future NetCommie. Of course I will carry out the standard tasks of the Network Commission, like checking the antenna criteria and organising Network Meetings. I will also strongly encourage antenna to organise high quality training events, and ensure that they are aware of external training possibilities. This way, I hope to be able to improve the human resources situation in AEGEE. In case I will work with the Nedertop area, I would like to look at the possibilities for founding AEGEE-Wageningen (continuing the work of Boudewijn and Loes).
Why do you want to be a part of this commission?
I see the Network Commission as the group of people that holds the network together: supporting the locals individually, while simultaneously guiding them all towards the common goal of AEGEE. Every time I attend an AEGEE event, I feel this common goal connects us: this is what drives me to work for the Network Commission. As a NetCommie, I will be more involved in the network and I will be able to contribute to it more.
Do you think you will change something in the Network Commission?
I think the Network Commission is constantly changing, because new members are elected every Agora. Of course this is good for knowledge transfer, but I think the first thing to focus on is getting accustomed to the team and to establish good team dynamics. I think the Network Commission works pretty well as it is, so I do not see the need for much change in the structure or working on the format. Of course they are working on the Antenna Criteria reform now, which is a pretty big change in itself. I will try to implement these changes the best I can.
How will you contribute to the commission?
Firstly, I see myself as a kind and approachable person, which makes it easy for people to reach out to me if they have any problems. Furthermore, I am often the stable factor in a team, which means I have the discipline to work hard for the team and finish deadlines, as well as on a personal level. I am usually someone who tries her best to keep the team together. Besides this, I like keeping things structural, so it is easy to keep an overview of them. In short: I will contribute to structure and stability.
What was your unforgettable moment in AEGEE?
Of course I have had many unforgettable experiences within AEGEE. The one that comes to my mind first at this moment is EPM Leiden. I was a local organiser there, and it was amazing to see a statutory event from the other side. We had so much fun, while at the same time ensuring the participants had everything that they need. The downpart of being an organiser is that you miss a lot of the content, but we made up for that by having long discussions until the early morning while enjoying a drink and a snack, after getting the participants to the gym safely and cleaning up the party venues of course.
How will you use your skills to develop AEGEE?
After almost four years of membership, I can say that I have quite some experience now both on a local and European level. I will always be there for an antenna to answer any questions they might have about anything. And if I do not have an answer myself, I can send them to other experts in my network, that I have gotten to know over the years. Besides that, I will also give workshops and sessions at the Network Meetings I will organise. I hope the participants will take the knowledge and skills that they gain there home to their locals.
Which is the first thing that you were proud of in your life?
Outside of AEGEE, the first thing I can remember is my figure skating career. I started with synchronised skating when I was ten years old, and continued for the next eight years. From the first steps on the ice to performing in international shows and competitions, this was a great passion of mine. Although I had to quit for practical reasons, I still love it. What made me even more proud is that the team I used to skate in took part in the world championships this year! Within AEGEE, the first thing I was really proud of, was my first sponsor deal as a fundraising responsible.
How and in what way can you think that AEGEE is not perfect?
Although I really love our organisation, there is room for improvement. For example, our human resources situation is not always ideal. Sometimes, not all available positions in European bodies are filled, or events have to be cancelled due to the lack of applications. I think the Network Commission can collaborate with the Human Resources Committee and the Events Quality Assurance Committee in order to analyse the reasons for this, and in order to tackle these problems.
Question from the Network: What is the area of the network you would like to work with?
Of course, I am open for cooperation with all antenna and network areas. Yet, working with the Nedertop area seems most practical to me since I can easily reach these locals due to the small distances. In addition to that, I already have experience in working in this area as a SubCommie, so I know how these locals work.
You can read her full candidature here.
Written by Firdevs Çazım, AEGEE-Ankara