Christiane Klemm - External Relations Officer

ChrisCan you introduce yourself?

I'm 24 years old and live in a small student's town on the German coast of the Baltic Sea, but I was born and raised in Frankfurt (Main). I am going to finish my studies of 'Landscape ecology & Nature Conservation - International' next summer, which are based on bio- and geosciences, supplemented by the fields of law, economics, ethics and land use. A mandatory year of studying and working abroad, which I spent in wonderful Estonia, is included, too.
In my leisure time I usually do some sports, meet friends, do voluntary work, enjoy doing nothing at all with a good book or music, travel around and much more.

Which YEE member organisation do you belong to? What are the main activities of your organisation?

It is an organisation to support and develop the ecological voluntary service FÖJ in Germany for young people up to the age of 27. The organisation aims to help volunteers develop and carry out projects they do in their free time, apart from their volunteer service. All the projects and activities we do together promote the ecological voluntary service itself as well as environmental-friendly and sustainable living. Our organisation depends on active members who want to volunteer even more and thus gain even more experience in various fields. Also FÖJ-AKTIV e.V. gives its members the opportunity to improve the voluntary service on a political level.

How did you get involved in YEE? What was your first impression about YEE?

My first contact with YEE happened three years ago through a study session in Strasbourg on the topics of environmental law and youth participation. At first I was actually quite intimidated by how skilled and professional everyone seemed to be and never would have dreamt of having an active role inside the network, much less to become a Board Member.
But I met so many amazing people there, learned so much and was so impressed by YEE that I asked my organisation to send me as their delegate to the next Annual Meeting where I was not only nominated for becoming a Board Member, but even elected into the position of the Project Officer.

What is YEE for you?

For me YEE is a space for youth to meet and implement projects together. It immensely supports people's personal growth through a large variety of opportunities, something YEE's Member Organisations subsequently benefit from, too.
While it obviously aims at protecting the environment I'd like to point out that developing the European spirit and peace building are not recognised often enough, though being some of the regular positive outcomes of our trainings, for instance when having participants from quarrelling countries who have the chance to meet through YEE, discard prejudices, become friends and even start working together on common environmental problems.

Why did you want to stay/change position in YEE Board?

I wanted to stay because I really like the job of being a YEE Board Member. Sure, you have to work hard and it keeps challenging you, but at the same time it does so much for you personally, as well as professionally and I was just not ready to give it up yet. Also we started a lot of progress last year, a development I would like to give some stability to.
I chose to change the position because we had not one, but two very suitable candidates for promo and publications who even were native speakers of English. An ideal match! Also I was really interested in the position of the External Relations Officer, which became vacant this year and which I am well prepared for by knowing YEE for years and by having filled different positions in the network.

What did you enjoy most about being in the Board?

Hard to choose one. There are so many great aspects of being in the Board. Like the work with such an amazing international team on environmental topics. It may not always be easy to work with people from a highly diverse background, but the resulting skills, knowledge and deep friendships are definitely worth it. Also I am grateful for having the opportunity to get to know so many different places and cultures through YEE's projects. Being in the Board means you can have an impact, push your limits and grow as a person through challenges.

What is your main aim as a 2015 - 2016 Board member?

Throughout the last year we worked a lot on developing and improving YEE by forming a large number of working groups on various important topics. Some results were already shared during the Annual Meeting, such as the YEE values, other topics need to be worked on more. I'd like to continue on that path to strengthen the network and also to improve our members' experiences.

Why do you care about the environment?

I just love nature! It's as easy as that. I love forests and small clean streams, mountains as well as the sea, deserts, swamps and so much more. I especially enjoy places off the beaten track, places where I can discover nature in its huge variety and with a minimum of human influence. But those places are becoming fewer and fewer. Even protected areas are increasingly affected by human influence, for instance through air pollution, alteration of landscapes or climate change. It is a no-brainer that something needs to be done to protect nature if we still want to enjoy it in the future. Waiting for others to do it? Not me.