General Assembly 2020 – A new and different experience

In order for an organisation to grow throughout the years it’s important to continually make the right decisions based on what’s best for the organisation; therefore, BEST will always improve and develop and will be a place where many students can find themselves and prosper.

One of the most important events in BEST internationally is the General Assembly – an event at which proposals concerning the future of the organisation are voted on and members share their opinions on relevant subjects. Additionally, at this event the international board, which will be responsible for leading the various aspects of BEST in the coming year, is selected.

The General Assembly  is one of the two mandatory assemblies held annually at an international level. Many delegates from different local BEST groups from all over Europe attend these events.

This year, the General Assembly was supposed to take place in Istanbul from – may to – may. However considering the situation with COVID – 19, it was moved to an online platform.

Every year one or two delegates from each local best group attend this event, and this year we were represented by Maja Krsteva and Slave Temkov, full members who are also part of the local board.

In order to find out more about the General Assembly, their experience and in order to capture the spirit of the event we asked them a few questions.

– Why are general assemblies important for our organisation?

Maja: The general assemblies are maybe the most important events in BEST, because many crucial decisions are made there. These decisions not only impact the international aspect of BEST but also each local group, including BEST Skopje. Imagine the following – a large number of volunteers from BEST and other student organisations all gathered in one place, having fun, sharing experiences and discussing different topics about the future of our organisation. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

Slave: Apart from being obligated, as a local BEST group, to send delegates each year, the feeling of taking part in an event like this is really something special. It’s really different to have a chance to attend an event like this and it can impact the motivation of everyone present. To be able to go and express your opinion about topics relevant in the organisation, and to be part of a bigger change makes you really feel like all individual local BEST groups aren’t separate  but are part of a community. When you work and hang out with someone at an event like this it really adds to both your motivation and to the feeling of belonging to something greater.

– What made you want to apply for this event?

Maja: I simply wanted to experience an internal event of great meaning for our organisation, which offers lots of new knowledge but also lots of new friendships. I’ve always wanted to attend a General Assembly because I think I will gain knowledge that will be useful to my local BEST group. I also love to travel and meet new people.

Slave: I heard about this event a long time ago and about assemblies in BEST in general, and I knew it was definitely something I want to experience. This was my opportunity, together with Maja, to represent BEST Skopje is the best possible way. There are lots of people I know who are also volunteers in BEST and I hadn’t met all of them in person so I wanted to have a chance to finally meet. Also like Maja said, hearing new perspectives and ideas from people from other countries is really important in terms of contributing to BEST Skopje as a local organisation.

-How did GA take place this year?

Maja: Unlike other years where GA takes place in one location, this year it took place in our homes online. This year unfortunately because of the pandemic, we were forced to hold the general assembly online. Because we are a flexible organisation a delegate from each local group took part in the event via conference call.

Slave: The conference calls took place on Zoom, but other tools were also used – for the international board an additional tool was used for effective and anonymous voting, because the voting rounds are always  anonymous. The discussions for the proposals were in the format of question rounds, all the documents and proposals were available beforehand and on the online meetings the delegates answered the questions.
The speeches of the candidate for international board were livestreamed so any member could tune in and there were also public question rounds. The voting happened in real time and live, while the voting for the proposals was on a separate platform. We also tried to do some usual GA traditions as much as the online environment would allow.

-How would you describe your experience at this event?

Maja: it is definitely and experience I will remember for the rest of my life even though it was tiring to have online meetings and sessions, it was challenging and we really put in our maximum effort to commit and transfer the new knowledge to members of our local BEST groups in order to make the right decision in the voting rounds.I am sad we did not get to travel and meet the people in real life but this way of communicating was also a unique experience.

Slave: I am also sad we did not get to go and experience the event in the traditional way but still, it was not disappointing because we managed to experience the event as much as we could given the circumstances. It was a great honor and responsibility to represent BEST Skopje and we took it seriously. Despite the fact that we did not meet the people face to face we communicated with them, asked for opinions and any information we might have missed. We got the most out of it even though we were disappointed at first.

-Whats one thing you learned at this event?

Маја: We got to know the international side of BEST better and the opportunities it offers. If anyone gets the chance to apply to this kind of internal event I strongly recommend it!

Slave: Regardless of the circumstances there’s always a way to adjust and there’s a way to go through with things. Being present is very important even online to be informed about the things that concern the future of our organisation.