In the occasion of the Youth Development month, the Youth Development Working Group reached out to four AEGEE alumni and interviewed them, with the intention to connect past, present and future of AEGEE. Here’s the fourth and last interview of the series: Maria Nomikou (formerly) from AEGEE-Athina and AEGEE-Zaragoza.
YDWG: Hello Maria, can you introduce yourself a bit?
Maria: I am Maria, I have studied theatre studies, stage management and international and European policies in education training and research and I joined AEGEE in 2002. Since then I have spent a lot of my time travelling for AEGEE, for pleasure or for delivering training courses. At the moment, I work at the British Council in the field of education, society and social economy. I love sewing, cooking and cinema. [she smiles, ed.]
And when did you become a member of AEGEE? How many years did you volunteer in it and what have you done during those years?
I joined AEGEE in 2002 and I was very active until 2009, but somehow I stayed involved as the last training I delivered for AEGEE was in 2013. Well, last year I facilitated the team building for the CD but it was just for a couple of days. What I have done… Member of AEGEE-Athina and AEGEE-Zaragoza, one year in the board of AEGEE-Athina, speaker of the Academy twice, president of the Members Commission (i think this doesn’t exist anymore [she smiles, ed.]), trainer in more than 15 European Schools, ES2 Oviedo Manager and chief editor of the NFE book: the impact of non-formal education on young people and society.
What does AEGEE mean for you?
Travelling like an executive, working in the middle of the night like in a multinational company, partying like an animal, having a friend in every single corner of Europe, thinking of the past and smiling for all the wonderful crazy experiences AEGEE gave me.
What was the biggest thing that AEGEE brought to you?
Confidence, the feeling that you have the power to make your dreams come true.
Which skills did you improve most during your very active years in AEGEE?
I feel that my whole personality was influenced by AEGEE. In my seven most active years in AEGEE I spent endless hours working for the organisation and I travelled to numerous places. This influences not only your skills and knowledge but your attitude towards life.
Did these skills help you to find a job easily? And what is your job now?
AEGEE first of all gave me a great opportunity to discover the world of youth work and youth training. Being nominated to the European Youth Forum Pool of Trainers for three mandates (2007-2013) I had the opportunity to work in very exciting projects with big institutions and NGOs. This influenced my future a lot and what I do now is as if I followed a natural path that started with AEGEE, continued with the Forum and other companies/experiences and brought me where I am, at the British Council in Athens.
What would you say is the biggest benefit of AEGEE for young people looking for a job?
It doesn’t matter what your job will be in five, 10 or 20 years, the biggest benefit is that it makes you feel a citizen of the world. It helps you improve basic soft skills such as collaboration, organisation, sense of responsibility, intercultural skills and many more that are useful for any job, even for the ones that maybe don’t exist yet. What you need to keep in mind is that this is not something that AEGEE offers you, but something you offer yourself, with AEGEE being just the vehicle.
Do you have any advice for newbies in AEGEE?
Grab the opportunities, try hard, follow your dreams and try to find out what makes you unique. AEGEE is a great and safe place to try new things, explore your strengths and weaknesses and find other crazy people that will join you in crazy journeys.
Written by Batuhan Çarıkçı, Youth Development Working Group