Marsida Bandilli is PhD Researcher at the University of Antwerp focusing on European Integration. Involved in civil society sector in Albania, working for different youth NGOs and think-tank institutes, she coordinated several international projects. She holds a MSc degree in Political Theory from the University of Tirana, where she also worked in the Communication Department and taught.
Why have you been interested to become EYA Ambassador?
I am a very curious person, by nature. And luckily nowadays we live in a time where information is easily accessible from everywhere. I discovered the European Youth Award (EYA) in a random way. What intrigued my curiosity at first is that this initiative promotes creativity and innovation at different scales: local, national and European. Through this unique prize, young Europeans have the opportunity to display their creative projects and the innovative solutions they provide to our common problems. By becoming an EYA Ambassador, I give a modest contribution through sharing the information with my network, as well as motivating young people to participate in this experience. As an EYA Ambassador, I promote the EYA prize in Albania, the country of my origin. It is true that sometimes there is too much information over there, but not all young people are aware about the amazing opportunities, such as the EYA.
What is your main motivation?
With my EYA Ambassador title, I want to represent the best values the award entitles. I like to represent the European Youth Award in Albania, in Brussels where I live for the moment or elsewhere in Europe. A lot of my work is directed to inspiring young people to stay motivated in what they do. It is sometimes very difficult to believe that an idea can change the world, but it can actually do. In my Ambassadors role I don’t have the authority to interfere with the projects that young people submit for the European Youth Award, I typically guide them to join the European Youth Award and the EYA Festival. My main motivation is to communicate with young people, to guide them whenever they need professional guidance, so that they can make it in all challenges ahead.
What do you like best regarding the European Youth Award?
I believe the European Youth Award pioneers change-makers. I think by inspiring, collaborating and mentoring other young people we can all catalyse a positive change in our societies. The European Youth Award is the place to be for a visionary youth that wants to positively impact their communities. The European Youth Award is a “box” of opportunities to young Europeans that want to improve the world around them. Real examples of how young people bring positive change through their initiatives are brought to life. Moreover, what I especially like about EYA is the fact that it is designed to be attractive to those young people that consider themselves as change-makers. Young people also get equipped with the right tools to go through the necessary steps to manage a project, to use Social Media to increase its impact and to remain sustainable in long-terms.
What was your experience as juror?
It has been one of the greatest honour to be a juror for the European Youth Award Prize. For two consecutive years, I worked for the selection of the best projects that have a European impact. As a juror, I learned that innovative ideas and creativity matter. Each project proposal is at the same time a way of communicating ideas about how to change the reality and how to make the world we live in a better place. One important thing to mention here is that, those who think their voices matter, are those who really do bring a change for a better world. After reading applications one by one, I found that young people who work for them, passionately believe in their idea. For me it is as if I had contributed a little in every single project proposal I hear about. Because in so many ways, I understand where these ideas come from and the light these projects bring.
What are you doing in your career for the moment?
Right now, I am focusing on finishing my PhD thesis in Political Science at the University of Antwerp. In my empricial research I investigate the involvement of stakeholders with the EU Cohesion Policy and I assess important academic questions of: mobilization, coalition building and success. I am also part-time engaged with a Brussels-based consultancy that deals with European affairs. Nevertheless, I am not leaving behind my passion for public speaking, writing blogs, nor inspirational speeches regarding important topics of interest.
Can you mention some of your recent milestones?
Very recently I had the pleasure to speak in a café debate organized by Young European Federalists (JEF) Brussels. I shared my views about the role European identity could play to unite us, as Europeans together. Another milestone relates to my participation in the debate about the future of Europe, organized by the EPP, the European Parliament. In the past months, I was a mentor for the Women in International Security (WIIS-Brussels) programme where I promoted women’s leadership and professional development. Greatly, this programme taught me a lot about my mentee, as much as about myself.