Farewell to 3 Governing Body members: Interview with Marek, Helga, and Maria

Having successfully finished their 2-year terms serving as Governing Body (GB) members, Marek Navrátil, Helga Dirlinger, and Maria Manolescu were happy to share their thoughts on their experiences as GB members and their predictions for the future of EYP.

How would you describe your GB experience for the past 2 years?

Marek: Working on the EYP’s Governing Body has been extremely rewarding and interesting. It was a real pleasure to work alongside the great professionals in the International Office, engage with our amazing volunteers on NC boards, and help our network meet its strategic goals. It was the perfect way to wrap up my EYP career.

Helga: Joining the GB has definitely taken me along a steep learning curve – a new but definitely valuable experience for a seasoned teacher. During this time, I had the chance to cooperate with a brilliant team of EYPers, who were incredibly inspiring, supportive and great fun to be with: Thank you Maria, Noura, Marek and Dennis for your patience.

Maria: Intense and rewarding! I learned much more than I expected to and I am thrilled for having had a greater opportunity to impact the EYP than in any of my previous roles. 

What has been one of the most remarkable experiences for you in your GB term?

Marek: Kick-starting the process for creating our new EYP Strategy was definitely an exciting exercise. Beginning already in the spring of 2018, we had a chance to reflect on the big picture of our organization and remind ourselves of our ongoing challenges; in the summer of 2019, we set out to evaluate what has been done in the past 4 years and got a chance to reflect on how we should strategize going forward. Being given the chance to witness and influence this process was a true honour!

Helga: During my term on the GB, I could experience at close range how the mission, aims and values of EYP were brought to life through the communal efforts of international governance. Looked at from the outside, EYP policies may seem like dry stuff, yet these paragraphs and clauses shape real life in the EYP community and ensure that the organisation continues to live up to new challenges.

Maria: The trust EYPers put in me by sharing their personal experiences and struggles. I am humbled by the possibility to support people on an individual level, from NC Presidents to members reaching out to me as International Safe Person, and everything in between. I was inspired by the openness of EYPers sharing their stories of bullying, harassment and assault with me, in the hope that in doing so they can help shape EYP into a better organisation for everyone. I am proud to have been able to put into place a policy aimed to ensure there is no place for bullying, harassment or assault in EYP and that if it does happen, we can deal with it professionally and responsibly. I am hopeful the system will only get stronger as we see an active culture shift in our network and wider societies about this.  

Where do you hope to see EYP in 5 years from now?

Marek: I would like the EYP to be inching ever closer to the fulfilment of our mission to inspire and empower young Europeans to become open-minded, tolerant, and active citizens. Having more National Committees able to afford their own office and paid staff, continuing to ensure the well-being of our event participants and volunteers, or finding a sustainable long-term financing model of our International Office are just some of the concrete developments that will help us get there.

Helga: In 5 years, I envision EYP to still be a vibrant youth-led organisation with a network of committed individuals spanning the continent, young people taking a stand and willing to shape the future of our continent. However, I also wish for EYP to become even stronger by being more inclusive and diverse, the network reflecting a broader range of young people’s experiences and backgrounds.

Maria: With a few more strong financial partnerships in place, which can enable EYP to keep doing what we do best. With a culture shift so that we no longer glorify exhaustion culture, but rather promote self-care and mindful participation. With an active and functioning network of Safe Persons across all events and all NCs. And finally, with a strong alumni network where we can hear all about how the next generations of EYPers will shape the organisation! 

Anything you’ve always wanted to say to EYPers?

Marek: EYP is a great tool for personal development; that said, it also needs develops as an organization, and it is incumbent on all active EYPers to speak up and fix its structural problems. Luckily, EYP is a thriving democracy, where changes can be made with enough perseverance.

Also, Alele is and will always be the best general team building game in the world.

Helga: I want to thank you all for being so open and supportive. Getting to know so many dedicated young volunteers and learning from them has been an extremely rewarding experience for which I am grateful.

Maria: Trust that everyone in the organisation is doing the best they can, including yourself. We can all benefit from being kinder to one another and ourselves. While disagreements are inevitable and fruitful, the organisation would function much more efficiently and the experience would be more enjoyable if we trust that everyone is actively doing their best. This helps avoid resentment and can make EYP a more welcoming place where people are inspired to do their best to contribute in their own way to our shared goal of inspiring and empowering young people.


We would like to thank Marek, Helga, and Maria for the 2 year time they have spent working as the Governing Body members for the development of the network.