Time to welcome RYEurope’s new board members

At RYEurope’s GA on the 6th of November 2020 the elections for the new board introduced new board members. The new board consists of…

Chairperson Linzi Stewart

Vice-Chairperson Niall Evans

Board Member group I Elen Williams

Board Member group II Martin Siemen

Board Member group III Iiristiina Heinonen

Board Member group IV Birgit Kuslap

Special Interest Board Member Siobhan Gallagher

Some of these were familiar in different board roles prior, but with this article we want to take a moment to introduce the new faces.

Who are you?

My name is Elen Williams and I am the Group 1 Representative for the UK & Ireland. I am 28 years old farmers’ daughter from South Wales. I work for a bank full time and work alongside my family on the family farm at evenings and weekends where we farm beef and sheep.

I have been a passionate member of YFC for over 10 years and am currently the Vice County Chairman for my county, Glamorgan. I’ve held various roles within YFC from Club Secretary & Chairman through to Wales YFC Competitions Chairman.

What’s your background on rural matters?

Life in rural communities can be very isolating especially for young people; our member organisations such as YFC are a key tool in tackling this. Not only do they provide our members with skills and experiences to benefit them for life, it teaches them about pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones and that giving something a go and trying is more important than winning. It nurtures friendships to last a lifetime which will support them through the times ahead good and bad.

But what is unique about our organisations is that it gives a voice to our members on issues and matters affecting them, a voice that is heard and valued at the highest levels with those people who make decisions. Decisions which affect their future whether it be within agriculture or the wider world. Testament to this is that many from within our organisations go on to hold these positions within Government and understand the importance of the opinion of our youth as the future of tomorrow.

As a young person from the rural community and within agriculture I have experienced first-hand some of the issues which affect our members daily such as lack of broadband or mobile coverage to allow them to engage with things which those is town and cities take for granted. This can have an impact on their education and subsequently on business and employment. Being from a rural community should not disadvantage our young people but provide them with equal opportunities, and that equality is at the heart of rural matters.

What’s your best Rural Youth Europe memory?

That is a really hard question! My first memory of Rural Youth Europe was when Wales YFC hosted the Rally in 2014 in my home county of Glamorgan, as a county we supported across the week and hosted delegates on the home stay part, this experience started my love for Rural Youth Europe. But my best memory has to be the Rally in Ulster 2016, where I was part of Team Wales. Start to finish the experience was unforgettable and until you’ve been part of an event like the Rally you can’t really describe it. The highlight for me is the friendships that were made that week, people who I am proud to call some of my closest friends now and will be for a lifetime.

Why did you decide to run to become a board member?

I’d seen the post advertised through the Wales YFC Social media channels and I’d thought I’d love to have the opportunity to work more with our organisations across Europe the share the views and be the voice of our members on issue important to them. I’m also part of the prep team for the Autumn Seminar for Wales in 2022 and through this I’d love to understand more of the further work that Rural Youth Europe undertakes for our members.

A hidden talent of yours?

I don’t really have any hidden talents, I’m not very mysterious! I can speak Welsh fluently as it’s my first language.

Favorite quote / saying?

It’s a very simple saying but one that has become especially relevant in 2020 with all that has happened;-

‘Un dydd ar y tro’ which in English is ‘One day at a time’

We just have to take life one day at a time, not worry about what’s ahead or plan for things out of our control.

What is the most important reason why we do human rights education? Or why do you want to be a part of it?

The importance is in the statement ‘Human Rights’. It is a basic a right to everyone and not a privilege or option dependent on where you are from, your faith, gender, sexuality or any other reason. That is the importance of the education is that people understand that basic principle.

Greetings to readers:

Hello, Shwmae!

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Who are you?

 

My name is Martin Siemen, I´m 25 years old and live in a small city in the Northwest of Germany. I work as an engineer at a cruise ship yard, after I finished my studies of mechanical engineering, IT and design last year.

What’s your background on rural matters?

Growing up in a small village, I joined Landjugend at the age of 15. I am on the board on local and county level for already seven years. And I also participated in many federal and national events and in four RYEurope event so far. Living in a place where there is lots of space, nature and you know your neighbours, is still my favourite and will always be.

What’s your best Rural Youth Europe memory?

The Best memory was on my first RYEurope Event, the Rally in Latvia. One evening, after dipping in the Baltic sea, having a great barbecue and some drum session, our bus got stuck in the sand and we pushed and dug it out altogether. This was pure team spirit and pretty funny. But I also want to mention the international evenings as one of my favourites.

Why did you decide to run to become a board member?

 

After spending a great time at all the past RYEurope events I want to give something back to the community. I love how people meet on these events, exchange their views, learn about important topics and take back home amazing memories and even some new international friends. Also, I have been interested in pushing forward rural matters, emphasise the importance of international exchanges and improve the situation of rural youth for a long time already. So, becoming group 2 representative seemed to be the perfect possibility for me to use my strengths in communication and project management and support rural youth work.

A hidden talent of yours?

I know all Eurovision songs from the last ten years when I listen to them.

Favourite quote / saying?

“Life is trying things to see if they work.”

What is the most important reason why we do human rights education? Or why do you want to be a part of it?

It is very important that we all know our privileges!
That is a basic condition to start improving our and others’ lives. We all benefit from everyone having basic human rights and being a valued and equal part of our society. Only this way everyone can contribute their best and create a better tomorrow.

Greetings to readers:

I greet everyone in Germany who supported my candidacy and of course also all the member organisations who elected and put their trust in me. I am looking forward to work with the new board as well as with my central European member organisations. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any requests and feel free to inform me whatever is going on in your organisation.

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 Who are you? 

I’m Iiristiina Heinonen and I’m the representative of group 3, Northern Europe, on the Rural Youth Europe board. I come from Finland, and my home organisation is 4H Finland. I’m studying education science in university, and I’ll become a teacher. 

What’s your background on rural matters?

I’m currently living in the metropolitan area, but my hometown is a small rural town in Central Finland. I joined my local 4H club at the age 12, and I’ve been a part of the organization since that. When I got older, I became interested in youth participation: I wanted to develop youth participation in my own area and later also in my organisation on a national level. 

What’s your best Rural Youth Europe memory? 

There are so many! But maybe my best memory is from my first Rural Youth Europe event, which was the autumn seminar in Austria in 2017. I remember that I got very inspired about the atmosphere of the event, because I had never been in an educational event where everybody was motivated to learn. When I went back home, I wanted to try all the educational methods I had learnt during the seminar. And of course, I also met amazing people, and we had so much fun during the week! 

Why did you decide to run to become a board member? 

I’ve had a chance to get new friends and so many wonderful experiences, so now it’s my turn to give something back. I’ve done youth participation on local and national level, so I thought that now it could be a great time to participate on an international level. I know the difficulties of rural youth in my own area, and I would be happy to give my knowledge for Rural Youth Europe. 

A hidden talent of yours? 

I can play the saxophone. Even though I haven’t played for a while, I can still play the epic sax guy -theme. 

Favorite quote / saying? 

” Everything will be okay.” I’ve been saying that a lot during the spring and autumn. 

What is the most important reason why we do human rights education? Or why do you want to be a part of it? 

We’re all humans and all equal. We must be aware of human rights if we don’t want to repeat history. Even though there are countries where almost everything is fine in Europe, it’s not the case everywhere, not even in Europe. That’s why we have to do human rights education, and I want to raise awareness about those things. 

Greetings to readers: 

I can’t wait to meet everybody again face-to-face. I wish it won’t be long ’till we can hug and laugh together again. Until that, let’s be in contact virtually! 

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Who are you?

I’m Siobhán Gallagher from Ireland, I am member of Macra na Feirme and I’m a Qualified Financial Advisor & Professional Banker.  Just a few weeks ago I was elected as the Special Interest Board member at the first online Rural Youth Europe GA.

What’s your background on rural matters?

I live in a rural part of Ireland and I understand the struggles faced by rural young people but I can also see the benefits of living in a rural area. I have been a member of Macra na Feirme for 6 years and been involved in many activities and held numerous roles at all levels from club to national level.  I have sat on the rural youth committee of Macra na Feirme for over two years and have contributed to discussions around many rural issues during this time.

What’s your best Rural Youth Europe memory?

Its hard to choose one memory, I enjoy meeting with participants from all over Europe and learning about different topics and cultures and making many new friends. But if I had to choose one memory it would have to be the evaluation meeting in Finland in December 2019.  The board and some grassroot members gathered to look back on the activities of 2019 and look forward to planning 2020, no one had heard of Covid-19 at that stage and little did we realise what lay ahead for us all! Even though we had a very intense few days we still managed to explore Suomenlinna, experience Lucia day & the Christmas markets in Helsinki.

Why did you decide to run to become a board member?

I decided to put myself forward for the position of Special Interest Board member as I am interested in rural youth issues and advocacy work.  I pride myself on transparency & communication and I know that I will take on board the current issues facing members and I am not afraid to speak out about these issues to make sure they are heard. I see also the positive impact that collaborations between committee members can have and I look forward to working with Linzi, Niall, Elen, Martin, Iiristina, Birgit and the Rural Youth Europe staff.

A hidden talent of yours?

I don’t know would you call it a talent but I can lip read.

Favorite quote / saying?

Always keep your eyes on the stars but don’t let your feet leave the ground.

What is the most important reason why we do human rights education? Or why do you want to be a part of it?

I think it is an exciting time to be part of a progressive organisation who are having to adapt, evolve and think outside the box on how to engage with grassroot members. It is vital that we work with member organisations to ensure that we continue provide members with the tools & skills to tackle important issues. Rural Youth are the future but it is only by coming together to educate members that we have an opportunity to shape and define young people – after all they are our legislators of the future.

Greetings to readers:

Thank you to all member organizations for engaging with me over the past number of months and for supporting me at the GA, I hope that I can do you all proud over the next two years and be a strong voice for all rural youth matters.  My door is always open so please feel free to reach out about anything, I’d love to hear from you. I hope that in 2021 we will get to meet some of our members at physical meetings & activities.  Stay safe & well and I wish you all a very healthy, safe  and prosperous Christmas and New Year!