Ho Ho Ho! A look behind the curtains in the CD house shows who’s been naughty and nice!

As the Christmas holidays are here, this is a good occasion for AEGEE members to get to know the Comité Directeur a bit better and have a look behind the curtains of what’s happening in the AEGEE House!

2020 marks almost half of a term challenging and intense, yes, but also greatly rewarding and full of all sorts of experiences. To get you an idea of what we have been doing so far from our own perspective, we decided to provide you with a personalised sneak peek of some of the experiences and memories we hold dearest, by each of the members of the CD!

Álvaro, Vice-President, External Relations Director

  • In mid-September I attended an event that I started to organise on behalf of AEGEE even before beginning my term: the University on Youth and Development. Attending it and helping on its organisation was one of the most remarkable and empowering experiences I’ve lived so far in terms of non-formal education.
  • Not so related to the CD life but still close to my heart: seeing AEGEE-Brussels flourish after introducing the current board members to each other is something that I defo need to mention. I have very high hopes for the whole team, and am sure you will hear about them very soon, so remember these names: Ismael, Valentina, Paul, Antonia, Ema, and Juan!
  • We got approved two grants of the Council of Europe for the same call, which had never happened before. This is rewarding for me not only because I was coordinating one of them, but also because these grants allow us to increasingly involve locals and members that are out of the European Union.
  • At the beginning of our term AEGEE co-founded the coalition Generation Climate Europe. In this short time we have advanced so much that last month I even had a meeting along with two other members of the coalition with the cabinet of the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, on how to further involve young people in climate change policy-making.
  • Those small details with the rest of the team such as for instance vandalising and trolling each other’s part of this article on Google docs with the most shameful stories since the term began (believe me, there are). It’s those moments that make me realise that I am not living the CD experience with mere colleagues or just fellow AEGEEans, but with friends.
Alvaro (right) enjoying a picnic snack with some barley and hops juice

Barıs, Financial Director

  • As a proud main interior designer of the attic of the AEGEE House, I feel like we spend 100+ hours to just thinking about it, gathering stuff and fixing everything we managed to create a space where CD people can be there daily to relax and I think it makes living/working in the same house a bit more tolerable, S/O to everyone who contributed to it. 
  • Attending to World Non Formal Education Forum in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and representing AEGEE there was really an amazing experience for me. Also in my free time I discovered that Caipirinha is the best beverage in the entire universe.
  • I actually tripled or quadrupled the number of vegetables I am eating regularly, thanks to Hanna, it all started with the raw cauliflower that I ate in the transition cocktail because there was no other food left.
  • I am trying to migrate all of our finances to online systems, so far I managed to move the bookkeeping of AEGEE Europe and reimbursements to online platforms which helped me increasing the efficiency of our financial office (surprise, surprise, it’s just me) and have a better overview over finances of our association and better management of our scarce resources. Also a side note, APPLY FOR FD ASSISTANT IT’S A COOL JOB!!!
  • The most amazing highlight of this year for me is having the best team I could ever wish for, I can already see us 20 years later throwing a barbeque party we will also have vegan sausages for Hanna, gluten free stuff for Momo and kriek for Oksi, other guys literally eat/drink everything, literally.  
A lovely pair, our President helping out our Financial Director, Barıs with his tie (just an excuse for a hug)

Batu, Communications Director

  • Decorating the whole attic with my teammates with the stuff that we found on the streets made me feel like we are in a Discovery Channel documentary! 
  • With NWM Leon, I paid my first ever visit to Spain. It was such a productive event and the hospitality of people amazed me so much! 
  • I’m really happy that we have an AEGEE Day Team this year, and already looking forward to the celebration(s) of the 35th birthday of our beloved organization in Brussels and all around the network! 
  • Preparation and double-checking of around 200 pages of Agora Salerno documents/booklets in last 4 hours before the submission deadline was a truly exciting marathon! The last one was submitted in the very last minute and I was about to break the computer at that moment! (laughing)
  • Playing a football match with local organizers in the end of NWM Isparta reminded me so much of my old days on green fields, we should do those kind of activities more often!

Love across borders, one more reason why we are AEGEEans

Daniël, President

  • It was a very weird and interesting experience to become an employer overnight on the 1st of August. Suddenly secretariat members came to me to ask if it was alright they’d leave at 17 o’clock. Strange after only working with volunteers for so long!
  • One of the busiest moments in my life so far was the week leading up to organising the SMASH final conference in the European Parliament, while also going to NWM Athina right before that. Both events turned out to be amazing!
  • We were quite lucky that the CD before us made several big renovations to the AEGEE house, but there is always something else to fix. When running for CD, I did not expect that it would also teach me so many DIY house fixing skills haha.
  • Writing and presenting our Activity Plan has been a rollercoaster ride of several months. From the earliest brainstorm discussions all the way to the ratification during the Agora has been a great experience. It was a joy to discuss with my team members about what we wanted to do and it was great to receive feedback and input from the network. 
  • Finally, it has been really cool to represent AEGEE externally in Brussels at different receptions. Although I had explained AEGEE to potential new members thousands of times, I had to get used to explaining what we and specifically the head office does to potential partners. After some practice it goes smoothly and it’s a lot of fun!

Daniel about to drop a beat from his new mix-CD

Hanna, Projects Director

  • Having 3 European Bodies live meetings at the same weekend in Brussels and finishing it with submitting a project for the European Youth Foundation. After that weekend I needed to sleep for 15h (keyword “needed” not “slept”), but the project was accepted! 
  • I clearly remember the moment we invited the new renter in the AEGEE house to have a beer with us. After half an hour, she said she would like to join AEGEE-Brussels… she is now the Vice-President of the newly elected board! 
  • Reporting two grants at the same time took, 1. 49h of work in 3 days, 2. Baris, who doesn’t eat vegetables, cooking vegan for me, 3. Dance Monkey dance parties at the office with Elitsa at 2am, 4. 4am proud presentation of a job well done to the sleepy teammates.
  • How we had to move KT to the basement as it was too hot outside in July (Belgian history’s hottest days!) and having to move guests to the attic a few months later as the heating didn’t work and it was too cold in the basement – the house really fits every occasion 
  •  Visiting 3 locals in the week before Agora, attending the constitutional drink of two other locals, working with my eight sweet European Bodies, making urgent phone calls to the volunteers and having them step up to help me and of course my ever supporting teammates – thank you to all the lovely and inspiring people who make all of this worth it!

Monika, former Interim Secretary General

  • After living in the house for almost one year and a half, I guess it somehow happened in a natural way that I became a “mommy” that is not only supervising the head office and making sure that all the administrative part of the work is done properly, but I spend quite a lot of time cooking and baking for my lovely team, housemates and other AEGEEans that stop by in the house, as there is nothing better in the world than full and happy  bellies.
  • For me, the first months of my second term were in large part dedicated to Agora Salerno preparations and supervising the whole process from CD side. I especially enjoyed coordinating weekly meetings with CT, JC and LOs when we were planning the whole Agora, solving issues, supporting each other in tough moments, getting excited about what was coming and just having fun together 
  • This year we had the first Chair Team meeting that took place outside AEGEE house. Veva, Timo, Yusuf, Quentin, and I went to Salerno to meet with the whole core team of AEGEE- Salerno in the middle of September. It was super nice, as besides working hard we could enjoy sun, nice food, sea and amazing hospitality of our lovely friends from AEGEE-Salerno. For me it was special also because of personal reasons, as I came back to Salerno after three years and I could see again all awesome people that I meet at SU there in 2016.
  • Legendary booklets night. As I was travelling on the evening we had a deadline to publish Agora booklets, I was freaking out if I land on time to upload all the documents before midnight. When I got out of the plane it was only half an hour until midnight, so I was praying that my battery in the laptop wouldn’t die and the internet would be fast enough to upload everything before the deadline. I had my command center at the airport trying to coordinate with Batu and Baris that were on their toes in our Brussels office, preparing last covers and documents. It was super stressful and funny experience for the three of us, but we managed to be on time!
  • We had a lot of fun preparing General Mailing with Daniel, Elitsa and Florian from the Y Vote Team. We had a few hundred envelopes to prepare, but with a nice spotify playlist and mulled wine it went surprisingly fast and in a lovely atmosphere. I could also practice my design skills preparing christmas card together with Daniel, that we attached to every envelope. Later on Alvaro and me spent the night sealing the envelopes and gossiping in the office. 
  • When you join CD it’s important not to only keep good working relations with your team, but also to stay close friends. Of course it’s not easy when there are seven different personalities living and working together, but with these people it works well. I like our team dinner every Wednesday, activities and small trips we have together, chilling in the attic during the nights with movies, good music, life conversations and big issues to wake up to work the next morning.
Oksana, our Network and Human Resources Director has some serious stones!

Oksana, Network & Human Resources Director

  • I do a lot of brainstorming on new ways of dealing with our internal affairs; all the fun stuff like internal communication, HR management, network development and so on. And when I have an idea, and feel ready, I come to Daniel and ask him to criticise it as much as he can to check its feasibility. Thanks Daniel, I love and hate that you destroy them ideas so well!
  • One great way to stay close to the team while being in exile; social skypes! People in Brussels put on a video call during a team dinner and we talk about the latest news and gossip, it’s really sweet. 
  • The amount of memes and jokes I saw about my Network Status Update.. Oh boy, the creativity of AEGEE people! I just hope that everyone sees the reason behind it – promise, I don’t want to delete half of the network (laughing). For me the work on network development means also being honest and not pretending that dead locals are not dead, – otherwise we cannot see the reality and do something to change it. And a huge thank you to NetCommies for enduring all my requests and supporting locals in the best way possible! 
  • Never could I ever imagine when candidating for CD that I would be called “IT boss” or “IT specialist”! It’s really a delight to work with the ITC and see their devotion, and now with the new helpdesk team we have a chance to see all the cogs of the organisation behind the screen, and support any AEGEEan in need of tech help.
  • What I love about our dream team is that in the midst of never-ending work we always find space for silly and fun things. Like shooting a video for NetCom mascot punishment, or dancing in the dining room with disco lights on the laptop, or starting a night-shop-street-gang in the middle of the road at night. These people just make CD experience incredibly special.

What each of us is gonna do during Christmas and NYE

I will be filling my belly with amazing Spanish food along with my family in cold and windy Galicia, showing them that I am indeed alive. For New Year’s Eve I will be going to Ukraine, where I will celebrate along with some friends, including my lovelies Oksi and Hanna ~ Álvaro

I’ll be spending my time in Izmir and Istanbul trying to rest as much as I can, not think about the work at all, and enjoy my time with loved ones and proper food ~ Barış

I will be travelling from the most-western point to most-eastern point of Turkey! It is a trip of 1700 kilometers in one-way. I will start in İzmir, then Kapadokya-Kayseri-Erzincan-Erzurum-Kars and will finish my trip near the highest mountain of Turkey, Ağrı Dağı/Ararat which is 5137 meters high! ~

For me these holidays are all about the three big F’s: family, friends and food. My entire Christmas holiday is packed with meeting up with people and I have a tight schedule with different groups every day haha. Brunches, lunches and dinners will probably make me a bit heavier, but it’s all worth it ~ Daniel

I will spend my holidays travelling to meet different friends and family around Estonia, cooking tons of Christmas food for them and enjoying the cold air. However, the New Year’s Eve will be spent with some other AEGEEans, including 2 of my dear teammates! ~ Hanna

For me Christmas time will be a pretty busy period, with a lot of preparations, planning, cooking and baking, looking for gifts at a very last moment, family gatherings with amazing food and cosy evenings with mulled wine, sweets and Christmas movies, as well as some activities outside like ice-skating or sleigh party. This is also a perfect opportunity to catch up with all friends and spend time together enjoying Christmas atmosphere. NYE I will spend with my best friends at the party in Warsaw. It’s the first time since a couple of years when we will celebrate all together, so I’m really looking forward to that night! ~ Monika

I’ll spend the New Year’s in the company of some of the loveliest AEGEE people (including Alvaro and Hanna!) in Kyiv. The Christmas in January will be all about family, homemade food and cosiness. Otherwise hoping to get all the rest and gather energy for the successful second part of the term! ~ Oksana

The first 5 months of our term passed incredibly quickly, but were a true roller coaster. Before going to the Christmas break, it was great to take a moment to reflect on our experience so far and remember the highlights of the past year that made it really special for us. We had a lot of fun writing this for you, and we hope you will enjoy the reading!

CD57 is wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for your work and passion, for your ideas and curiosity, for inspiring us and making us love AEGEE even more. Enjoy your well-deserved holidays and see you in 2020! Feliz año nuevo! Urte berri on! Mutlu yıllar! Gelukkig nieuwjaar! Head uut aastat! Szczęśliwego nowego roku! З Новим Роком! С Новым Годом!