Daniel Sedlák is a Czech student who is a member of AEGEE-Brno and like other candidates, he presents as a new member of the Summer University Coordination Team for the next Autumn Agora in Salerno (Italy). With almost two years of experience as a member of this young European students association he decided to work at the European level. And like other candidates, from The AEGEEAN decided to get to know him better through an interview.
In the last year during which you have been an AEGEE member (officially only for several months) you have taken part in 10 international AEGEE events and organized two SUs. What are the main lessons you have learnt from these experiences and in which sense have they helped you to get to where you are now?
First a small clarification – it was during one and a half year and those 2 events I organized are a part of those 10 in total. Yes, AEGEE taught me a lot of lessons and also gave me more confidence than I had before. The most important skills I’ve developed during my still not so long AEGEE career are probably better teamwork, public speaking, and lot of crisis management (smiles).
Having a look to your program, we see a lot of changes and modifications that you propose to the work of the SU team. I would like to know among all these propositions, what are the key new ideas or innovations that you hope to put into practice in case you are chosen?
I have three main goals. The first is definitely enough high-quality content in the SUs. For this reason, I would like to put as much importance as possible on the education of future organizers. So I want to encourage them to participate in the SUPS events or to take part in the spring SUCT trip, which is a really nice invention of the current SUCT that I would like to continue with. Another way how to ensure better content of the SUs is to have more organizers willing to cooperate with European bodies (for example, with AEGEE-Academy). It’s important to show them that such co-operations will provide them with great sessions and it will also save them a lot of work with creating their own one.
My second goal is to help the locals who are struggling to get enough participants for their SU. The thing is that the majority of the future SU participants are choosing their dream SU based on what they see on the SU website. So I would like to include in their training (those mentioned above) sessions focused on how to promote their SU on this website. I would also like to solve the problem that once some SU appears at the bottom of the list of SUs according to the number of applicants, it’s likely that nobody will apply to this one anymore. It’s true that the exact amount of application was anonymized this year but the order was still from the most to the least. And I have some more ideas on what to change on the website, you can ask me on stage at Agora (winks).
And to not forget about the most mainstream topic for SUCT candidates; how to stop the trend of decreasing SU applications. I’m partially touching upon this problem in my program as well. Unfortunately, we’re not living in a dream world where there would be random young people outside of AEGEE following the SUCT social media. It’s the locals who are doing the main recruitment for the project and also for the AEGEE itself. What SUCT can do is to help the local organizers by providing good PR materials (which will be mainly the task of the PR responsible) and giving advice on how to promote SU as an experience with some additional value, not just a cheap travelling oportunity, which is not that unique anymore (the education again!).
Apart from your experience, what do you think are your most important qualities that are necessary for the SU Coordinator position?
You need to be a creative and hardworking person, with good teamwork and time management skills, and also be very patient. But be careful when you think that you’ve just got the most genius idea nobody has ever come up before! You don’t have to drastically change the whole SU project, it wouldn’t be here for more than 30 years if it was not working.
In your application, you talk about the fight against the trend of decreasing amount of applications. Why do you think the number of applications are decreasing and how do you plan to address that?
I’ve mentioned this topic already above. I don’t think that it’s really the fault of the project or the AEGEE itself. It’s just the wider concurrence of other student associations and different ways of cheap travelling and living that is arising in the past years. In my point of view, SUs are not dying, they are just setting a new standard level of the application amount, which will stabilize.
To conclude this interview, what are your next objectives in case you would not be chosen as an SU Coordinator?
I would continue working in our local board and maybe try another shot for the European position next year.