“I want to see the Network grow, to develop and to overcome the current situation” ~ Marija Valentina Zuvic

With the current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, AEGEE will be organising an Online Agora for the very first time in its history. Like every year, different members have applied to different positions. In this series, we interviewed the candidates of the new Comité Directeur. One of these candidates is Marija Valentina Zuvic from AEGEE-Zagreb.

Hi, Valentina. You were the first person to candidate for CD this year and I think people know you as a NetCommie, could you introduce yourself to the network quickly for people that do not know you?

Hey, hey! I am Marija Valentina, mostly called Vale, a member of AEGEE-Zagreb since Spring 2017. I joined AEGEE because of the Summer University, but I avoided my whole AEGEE-Zagreb family until Autumn when I became a board member. In three years in the local I have been on three different board positions, organised several events (SC Smells Like GREEN Spirit vol. 1 of which I am immensely proud because it was my first bigger event in AEGEE ever organised in collaboration with my favourite AEGEEan Franjo), workshops, recruitments, and many other things. Also, last year at Spring Agora Bucureşti I got elected as Network Commissioner for the term Bucureşti-Spring agora  2019/2020. I became responsible for the Baldria area, as well as Vice-speaker of NetCom in the term Salerno-Spring agora . One of my biggest adventures was a NetCom trip in November 2019 when I visited 9 locals (from Zagreb to Ioannina) and I finished it in Athens where I organised a Network Meeting together with AEGEE-Athina. And, now here I am, running for the position for Member of the Comité Directeur. 

In the CD there are different portfolios you can take up as a member, which ones are the most interesting on you? What do you want to work on in the next year?

In case I get elected, mostly based on my previous experience as Network Commissioner, my will for working on network development and the desire to help locals in the whole Network, I want to become Network Director. But aside from the portfolio of Network Director, I would like to take care of Human Resources, as well as European Changemakers Academy (ECMA), one of the AEGEE projects in which I have been since the beginning as representative of AEGEE-Zagreb.

As CD, you are at the very head of the organisation, what type of things do you want to change/ see improve over the next year?

I want to see the Network grow, to develop and to overcome the current situation. I don’t want to lose any locals during my term, nor downgrade them if there is really no need for that. Also, I want to support the Network Commission to continue with projects related to sustainability of Network and work with them on founding new locals and making stronger already existing one. Furthermore, I want to see improvement of communication between the local level and European level which is currently lacking.

What is your biggest fear about being in the CD?

My biggest fear is that I will not be able to move to Brussels to work together with new CD. :D But jokes aside, my biggest fear is that I will not be able to have a smooth communication with other CD members because I am hard of hearing. I know how frustrating it can be for others when I cannot understand them at first and they need to repeat it again several times or write it down, but I believe that my possible future teammates will adapt to it (and maybe learn some basic sign language so our communication will be much more efficient and faster).

In the past few months, COVID-19 has led to many events being cancelled and might have an impact on future recruitment, what would you as CD do to mitigate these and how do you see AEGEE coming out of the pandemic?

I cannot say how I see AEGEE coming out of the pandemic because we still do not know how the situation will end, but I am hoping that we will come out stronger and with an ability to easily adapt to changes and smoothly switch the different focuses in a moment. For now, what CD can do is to continue to support the locals, make their voices heard, as well as helping them with grants so they can easily go through this crisis and in this way change the focus on how to recruit new members.

What main concrete ideas do you have to help with Network Sustainability?

The main concrete idea is to make the Network Commission a body which won’t be just a communication and promotional channel, as well substitute for other European Bodies toward locals, which it is in some way currently. There are/were many different projects in the Network Commission which are/were aimed to develop and support the sustainability of locals. For now, I would just mention the Mentorship program (NetCommie Fabian is project manager) which is at this very moment in development progress, but the main aim is to connect the locals so they can learn from each other and give support. In this way, supporting the projects of Netcommies related to sustainability and reinforcement of the Network is also supporting the development strategy of Network Director. 

And finally, if not elected, what do you want to do instead?

If I do not get elected (knock on wood!), I won’t worry because I have so many things  to work on. For example, there are European Changemakers Academy project (ECMA) and the new project of AEGEE-Zagreb related to its history, but in the end I will probably end up on Helpdesk helping people to navigate in the AEGEE world (hint: go there for any request related AEGEE issues such as IT or GDPR among others!). 

Thank you very much for taking your time to answer these questions and I look forward to seeing you on the virtual stage!

Thank you :)