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Portrait of the Month February 2019

The last edition of this Serie was dedicated to the former Views Board member Stavroula Kousteni. The portrait of this month will introduce you to Mike Thornton, the president of Views Board for the last two Years. Not only will you find out how he came to Views international, we will additionally talk about his tasks and election processes on Views Board and finally speculate a bit on the Future of the UK in Views International due to the BREXIT debate.

Q: Hey Mike. First of all: Thank you very much for this Interview! Before you left the Views Board in December 2018, you were head of Views Board twice in a row the last two Years. Was it not possible to run a third time for the office?

A: On the contrary! As far as I know you can be President of Views Board any year that you are a board member. You can be on the board of Administrators for a maximum of 9 years. But I choose to leave Views Board due to a new job in which I wanted to focus. Otherwise I believe the Views board would have very much liked to re-nominate me or to keep me on the Board at least.

Q: As far as I know, your legacy has been discussed on the last general assembly in September. But I not heard any detail. Do you know whether your successor has already been chosen?

A: I think the president got elected quite recently. From what I heard, it is Giulia Pagoni, another Views Board member.

Q: Can you maybe explain a bit more detailed how the election process at the Views Board works? How can you become a candidate and who is authorized to elect you President?

A: The election of the president takes place annually. Every year during the General assembly of Views International each partner organization can suggest a candidate to the Views Board. Then it is actually the administration of Views, the Views Board, who names you president. Most of the time, they choose experienced Views Board Members for the office. If they accept their election, they have the office as president till the next general assembly. There they can be either re-confirmed as president or leave the office if they desired.

Q: Now enough of the general details. It is time to become more personal. I for example wonder how you heard the first time of Views International and what made you join it later?

A: The first time I encountered Views International was during a youth exchange. I think it took place in 2009, but I am not sure on that. The organization that sent me was called LOOK the organization for partially sighted and blind people in the UK. I liked my first youth exchange, so I returned for another one. Finally, I started to engage more with Views International. Since 2012, I had been member of the Views Board.

Q: What challenges did you face there?

A: My first job was the “Views Board secretary”. There I mostly took representative tasks or took notes during the Views Board meetings or the General assembly. As president I had different obligations. I was more involved in decision-making processes when I for example I helped to decide on which projects Views should or should not participate. Additionally, I still was the representative for “LOOK”

Q: There definitely seems to be a lot of work for these 2 organizations. Do you have any time left for yourself and if yes, how do you spent it?

A: Of course. Like I mention in my Views Board Profile, I am a passionate Goal ball player. Apart from that I really don’t do anything special. I like going to the Cinema a lot, meeting with friends and visiting Restaurants.

Q: You said you left Views for a new job. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

A: Actually, it is a mixture of a job and an apprenticeship. So, for the moment I am doing my job and learning how to do it on the same time. The job is closely connected to the UK civil service. I work in early years education policy. That means now I am planning and organizing projects for children between 3 and 5 years.

Q: Even though you have those interesting and new challenges, will you still be in contact with Views or are you relieved that this is over?

A: Definitely not! I am really glad for the experiences I made with Views. You always had the opportunity to meet interesting and new people and of course to get to know new countries. It was not easy to leave Views behind. But especially with my new job, there was no other opportunity. Of course, I’ll stay in contact with Views. I also still represent LOOK and, in this position, I am connected to Views anyway.

Q: Considering that nothing concrete has been decided yet the next question might be both to early and to delicate. Still I wondered how the current BREXIT-Debate might influence the relationship not only between the UK and the European Union in general but especially the relationship between the UK and Views international. If the BREXIT will be done successfully won’t it be difficult to arrange for example the exchanges of volunteers etc.?

A: There is nothing fixed on the BREXIT yet, neither when nor how it will occur. For the moment it looks like at least the Erasmus program till 2020, when it finishes. In any case the UK can stay a member of Views International. But how everything will turn out in the Future no one knows for sure.

Q: OK Mike. Thank you again for the interview and good luck for your new job from the whole Views team.