Interview with Janis Fifka

Janis Fifka almost quit EYP in 2017, but then he didn’t. How hard is to say goodbye to EYP? What has he learned from EYP and more importantly what can EYP as an organisation learn from its members?

What has your EYP career been like so far?

I already started EYP in 2011, so now that I’m 25, I’m always the grumpy old man running around at events. (laughs) I attended a lot of EYP events and also organised some. In 2017 I left EYP, but I felt a bit lost, so I jumped on the crazy idea to head organise an event again. Ever since then I try out new roads at EYP. It’s not like checking a list, but I enjoy exploring new environments in the organisation.

I enjoyed organising EYP events a lot, but it’s also tough at times. You do it and then there’s already the next event coming up. It can start to feel like a job and I think it was good to stop that at some point and to also enjoy it a bit more again. At the Summer Academy in Echternach, Luxembourg, I gave a few workshops or training sessions. Something I had been doing the year before in Niš, in Serbia as well.

What impact would you like your training sessions to have?

I mainly do workshops on Communications. There has been ‘PR from scratch’, a workshop on how we can better work together with the Media Teams at events and a workshop about Communication Strategy. I have been a Member of the Board for Communications of EYP for 2 years and around the time I started EYP I also worked as a freelancer for my hometown newspaper, but I actually studied History. I don’t focus too much on structures, models or theory, but more on what’s easy to understand and how we can make our message come across to a wider audience.

There has been so much knowledge in EYP, but a lot of it gets lost. My goal would be to give people a glimpse into what they can do but also to strengthen them or motivate them to do it the way they want. I would love them to talk to other people from outside of EYP, search for materials and see if there’s something they can do differently. In that way, it’s not like reproducing something that has already been done before. This, from my perspective, would be a nice way to be part of the organisation.

Is it hard to say goodbye to EYP?

I always hear people saying: ‘this is my last session, I have to say goodbye’ and then they pop up again at another event. For me, I think I will just at one point decide to stop and don’t go anymore. There is certainly something that you miss when you don’t do it anymore. So I think it’s about finding a transition. Like many people, I developed good friendships because of EYP, but I notice that when I meet these friends or when I go on holidays with them, EYP is not the number one topic we talk about anymore. It becomes more casual and it develops into private friendships.

I think it’s good if you manage the same transition with the organisation itself, that EYP is not the only thing you do and that maybe you can combine outside experiences with EYP. For example, I also give workshops and seminars in youth education outside of EYP. I can profit a lot from my EYP experience, but it also allows me to incorporate things in EYP that I learned on the outside.

So you’ve learned a lot from EYP that you can now use for your workshops outside of EYP and the other way around?

EYP is already there for quite some time, and when I look at all the guides and booklets there are on Teambuilding, Committee Work, etc. there is certainly a development, but it also always has a limitation. Sometimes we are a little bit in a bubble.

When I see coverage on team building activities at events, there are a lot of games that are played over and over again. I feel that we can try out new things as well. That is something I can bring from outside EYP. I can share methods I have learned or used there.

EYP is often framed as an organisation where you learn so much and one that changes your life, which is correct for a lot of people, myself included, but maybe we should let go of that to be able to start incorporating more things from outside of EYP. EYP can also learn from you. In that way, you can also build a more confident relationship with the network.