From Vice president of ESN Hertfordshire, to two years representing the Erasmus Student Network UK internationally, what’s next for our very own National Representative, Matthew Clemo?
We interview him to find out exactly why he wants to go further and work for the network on the international level. What motivates him? Why does he love the network so much? And what would be the first three things he would do directly after getting elected? As well as many other things, as we get closer to the elections this month, at the Annual General Meeting in Ankara, Turkey.
Interviewer: Hi Matt. So how are you feeling about the elections being so close now?
Matt: It’s a peculiar mix of nerves and excitement. This whole year has been leading to this point and now that I’m about to leave for Ankara, it feels like time has absolutely flown past.
Interviewer: So starting from the beginning, why did you go on exchange in the first place? Was it something you knew you wanted to do before you started university, or was it something you just fell into?
Matt: I actually knew before I went to university - I remember a friend coming home over the Easter break one year and telling me that when you go to university you could study for a semester or a whole year abroad. I knew from that moment I had to do it. The destination itself was actually determined to help with my undergraduate research and since I was doing this on American football, where better to go that the States?
Interviewer: All that sounds great, but why work for ESN? And where do you get your motivation from, since you have been dedicating so many hours to the network weekly for quite some time now?
Matt: As soon as I got back from my exchange, I knew I had to give back and help the exchange students like I was helped during mine. Initially my motivation came from the fellow exchange students: I loved getting to know them and watch them on their journey. These days, I am motivated by the ESN'ers I get to meet. Everyone has a different story to share, everyone is so willing to help each other, but best of all, everyone shares the same passion as me: ESN.
Interviewer: It’s clear that you are very passionate about the network as well as hardworking! However, many ESN'ers are, so what makes you, as an ESN international candidate, special and the right person to take ESN into the future?
Matt: This is a tough one, each candidate brings something different to the table, but what I believe makes me the right person is my blend of experiences from the different positions I’ve held, my approachability and my ideas.
Interviewer: There sure are some other great candidates, but hopefully people will have noticed your great potential and what you are able to do and bring to the network! So, can we have a sneaky peak into some of the plans that you have for the network if you are elected as the Vice President?
Matt: Sure, when I submitted my application, I mentioned three main ideas that I think make my candidacy unique: I want to help sections share their best practices through a competition at Regional Platforms, I want to further empower the National Boards at NBMs and I want to help strengthen our approach to grant applications.
Interviewer: So, if you are elected, what are the first three things you would do directly after finding out?
Matt: Well, there are three things I would do regardless of the outcome. To start off I would need to thank a lot of people: the UK for the tremendous support they have shown me, the people that voted for me, and also my fellow candidates, who both submitted great applications and have been providing some very stiff competition; I’m sure it will be a very close battle. After that, I would have to call home and tell my family the outcome, and finally I will be looking forward to a few days of relaxing before the hard work starts again!
Interviewer: Finally, what would you say to someone who may be thinking about applying for the International board next year? Has the process been hard work? Would you recommend it?
Matt: Do it! The process of applying is incredibly tough from a mental standpoint, but the lessons you learn along the way about yourself and life in general are invaluable. I once read on one of those “top 20 things to do before you die” lists that it was recommended to stand in some sort of public election. At the time I thought it was a very strange thing to see alongside “swimming with dolphins”, but now I realise what they meant. It’s a truly unique experience and I would recommend it to everyone!
Interviewer: Great! Thanks for the interview Matt! Any last comments?
Matt: That’s it from me, thanks a lot for the interview and see you and everyone in Ankara!
Interviewer: Thank you Matt! ESN UK wishes you all the luck in the world! And good luck with your presentation at the AGM next week in Ankara. We will all be there supporting you all the way!
Written by Natalie Kirk - ESN UK Communication & Marketing Manager