Wouter Boerjan is a Dutch student who is a member of AEGEE-Eindhoven 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 three 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.
You’ve been in AEGEE for the last three years, during which you have organized a lot of local and international events and you’ve even been in the local Board. What are the main lessons you learnt from these experiences and in which sense they have helped you to be where you are now?
Already before AEGEE I learned a lot, because I had joined other extracurricular activities before I joined AEGEE in my third year of university. However, one of the major things I learned during my time in the board of my local is how to integrate certain topics into certain events. How to make people aware of important more serious topics by feeding it to them in a nice and graspable way. Being creative in ways to implement subjects into activities is for sure something I learned in my time with AEGEE.
In your program, you pay a lot of attention to the promotion of the SU project and to the use of the existing information. Why do you have so much focus on this and do you think promotion will help to regain the popularity of the SUs?
I believe that reinventing the wheel over and over again is not necessary, there is so much information in previous teams and documents that simply reusing this information and materials can save a lot of time and energy. Making things automated and easy to implement every year over and over again will also help the locals on how to promote and work with the SU. I do believe the popularity of SU’s will be increased with the correct promotion. Providing the right materials and guidelines on how to promote it will put the locals on the right track to do so.
Apart from your experience, what do you think are your most important qualities that are necessary for the SU Coordinator position?
I think this position is not just about leading and managing the project and the team, but also about listening very carefully. This is needed to make sure the most is gotten out of everyone’s capabilities. Try to find a middle ground and make sure everyone is being heard. A good manager listens and asks for input, you are not alone after all.
In your application you talk about seeing some things go wrong or not being used optimally. Can you bring examples and talk about two major things you are planning to address?
SUCT is already providing everyone with a lot of promotion materials, which is great. But for potential AEGEE members it might be beneficial to have more inside in what summer universities are about. To provide this information in a very easy way could be to add a backside to the already existing flyer with a brief explanation.
In short, there are different target groups for people going on an SU, there are those that are already involved in AEGEE and know how things work, but there are also those who are not a member yet. SU is also a great way to get those new members, but for that a different kind of promotion material is needed.
Another resource that could be exploited more are the locals themselves. As this is a huge workforce which will also be using and making promotion materials of their own. Why not share this with the rest of the network? Let’s create a space where all those designs etc. can be shared and used by others.
To conclude this interview, what are your next objectives in case you would not be chosen as an SU Coordinator?
If I don’t get chosen to be part of SUCT I might join something else within AEGEE, but as I am no longer studying in a city that has AEGEE, being active on a local level became harder. Maybe I will be more active outside of AEGEE, as I am now playing lacrosse, I might really get into it and who knows, try out for the national team in a few years.