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Eleni Michail: Being a member of YEU gives me enthusiasm and inspiration!

01/02/2010
Age: 25
Degree: primary School Education
Job: teacher in a primary school
Years in YEU: 4
Hobbies singing, playing the guitar, involving myself in NGO’s, cooking, dancing, going on excursions, traveling…

Eleni Michail is the new president of YEU Cyprus. She discovered YEU a few years ago when she was studying in the University of Cyprus and had a semester of Erasmus abroad. During that time she met a lot of people from many countries and thanks to that changed her way of thinking on many things. After coming back from Erasmus she wanted to keep the creativity gained abroad.  She started to look for youth NGOs in which to involve herself and discovered YEU which 4 years later  she cannot imagine her life without it anymore…

How did you get acquainted with youth work in general?

I have always liked to be involved in volunteering projects in Cyprus. After graduating from university I spent a year in Austria making EVS where I worked with children. I saw many new things, new approaches in education, different ways of life and I was very inspired. After I came back to Cyprus, I had even more energy and passion to work with youth.

How has being a member of YEU changed your life?

Well, I am busier than before! Since I became a member I have traveled a lot and attended many projects as participant or facilitator which has made me more open minded, more mature. I value  people according to what they are and / or what they do not according to their background.But most important is that being a member of YEU gives me enthusiasm and inspiration. It keeps me active and always wanting to learn, to create, to co-operate!

How did you become the president of YEU Cyprus?

Well, elections were coming and I had a proposal from previous board member to candidate as president. I admit I didn’t feel like I had enough experience for presidency but then I thought that YEU Cyprus needed a new strong start and I started thinking of becoming a president. Also other candidates for the Board said that they would like to work with me. So here I am!

You’ve been the president for 2 months, do you regret becoming the president?

Hahaha! If I regret now what will happen after a year?! No, I haven't regretted it   yet.

What are your aims as YEU Cyprus president?

First aim is to get more new and young members in the NGO, there is a constant process of renewal. Then I believe we should be more active on local and international level. We have to make a new start, make a lot of things and confirm YEU Cyprus as a serious NGO in all governmental bodies referring to youth.

What are your goals in life regarding youth work?

I want to continue youth work and get deeper in it. I want to continue as organizer and facilitator/trainer for events. My aim is not to go higher, but to stay close on a level that youth can reach me. I want to give them possibilities of changing their life. I want to challenge them for something better!

How do you plan to create possibilities for youth to change their life?

By challenging them! First step in street action, this is how we get their attention. Then youth can follow us in weekend seminars or youth exchanges where they get the real change because they have the chance to experience life in a different way.

In your opinion what is the field or subject in youth work we should most pay attention to?

We need to reach people who are not interested in us! Maybe this sounds weird but I will explain myself. Once we had this weekend seminar about racism in Cyprus. The price for attending was very cheap, so many youth thought “it’s a great opportunity to make holidays for a weekend in such a cheap price”. It was obvious they were not interested in the topic. I was facilitator then and it was so hard to involve them in discussions. They had already very concrete prejudices  about immigrants, foreigners, Turkish Cypriot etc, they didn’t even like to talk about it! AT the end I was feeling angry about them. But after 2 days I started thinking “No! If we want to change the world, we should approach these people not the people who are already open minded and come to us by themselves!

How do you imagine yourself in 10 years?

I admit it’s a difficult question! In 10 years I will be 35. So I suppose I will be married with a child already who will run everywhere! Then I will have a lot of YEU friends whom I will meet and laugh about things that happened 10 years ago! I will be a mentor of youth NGOs but at the same time, I will start looking for “middle age” NGOs! =) I imagine myself as 10 years wiser but with the spirit of a 10 year younger!

 

Interviewed by Triin Rebane

Newsletter editor

 


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