Organising Committee of European Universities Games 2022
Most of those that participated in the European Universities Games last summer have crossed paths with Iwona Neroj, one of the most visible faces of the EUG Lodz 2022 Organizing Committee. In a very informal conversation she agreed to share with us the experience!
Tell us more about yourself. Where are you from, how long have you been with Lodz University of Technology and what is your daily work/activities?
I have been living in Lodz for over 20 years, my origins come from Wielkopolska, a region in the western part of Poland that had historically been significantly influenced by Western Europe. I am an economist by profession, and currently i am connected with the Lodz University of Technology, where I work in the administration of the, “most modern and beautiful building of the University – Alchemium - at the Faculty of Chemistry”. Simultaneously I run my own company, cooperating BNPI Investments, where I deal with projects of large-scale facilities.
How did the invitation to take part in the OC appeared? How was it presented to you? How did you feel about it at the beginning?
The connection to the Games came during the pandemic while looking for something extra to fill in some hours of the day. An online ad about a project cost accounting position was the window to step in. Today, I still remember the first conversation very well: “I saw on my computer monitor two active women talking passionately about academic sport, about the international environment, about the organizational challenge. Wow!
When you started working for the event preparation what were your responsibilities? Was it difficult for you? Was it full time? What did you struggle with the most and how did you overcome the adaptation challenges?
It all started officially in January 2021 and with effort it was possible to embrace both projects. The support obtained from both sides is something that I acknowledge and appreciate from the start. I am grateful to my project heads – Dominik - the EUG coordinator and Michal - the CEO of BNPI Investments for providing this opportunity. The maturity in the management area of these people meant that I never had to choose. I appreciate it very much.
I have in the transportation department but as the event date grew closer and the workload increased, I took more and more responsibilities such as security, medicine, cleaning and rental services, cooperation with authorities, catering and Opening/Closing ceremonies.
Where you nervous when the event started? What were you more concerned about right before the event started?
The pandemic was raging, that didn’t help, but the commitment, passion, wisdom and energy of the Organizing Committee members allowed creating an unforgettable, fantastic team, which informally still functions today as a group of friends. Not long before the event the war in Ukraine broke out. The Polish-Ukrainian border became a gateway to peace for millions of Ukrainian people. Polish people, “burdened and touched for generations by armed conflicts caused not by ourselves realized that everything could happen and everyone has people in their family who remember the horrors of war. As a team, the Organizing Committee members decided to help, not only those who came but also people in Ukraine but that could be a topic for a separate story.
How did everything go during the event? What were your main responsibilities? Can you describe me a day in your life during the Games?
For me ‘it was a very valuable experience, which certainly bore fruit in the very conduct of the Games’.During the Games I oversaw several departments. My day started at dawn and ended around midnight, sometimes later. All was possible thanks to the tremendous support from her family, to which she i am very grateful.
Besides the team hard work and the great role of the EUG Coordinator Dominik, I also highlight the importance of the support of the Rector: I really enjoyed it when the Rector participated in the preparations wearing the magenta team T- shirt. It was something!
What was the most stressful moment you had? And the most rewarding one?
When asked about the most stressful moment there is no hesitation: the Opening Ceremony of the EUG was certainly the highlight for me during the Games. But the stress paid off because when the athletes started arriving in the colorful jerseys of their universities, when they filled the corridor around this such a huge building, when they started singing in their languages in anticipation of the ceremony, I felt - this is it! This is going to happen!
How do you evaluate the event itself? And how do you see your contribution to it in terms of impact on others and on the event itself?
The Games where a beautiful experience for me It was wonderful to be part of this academic international community, it was wonderful to see the reaction of the athletes to our months of work, and it was wonderful to have loved ones - family and friends - with us in the arena at that time. The greatest happiness in life is to be able to share the wonderful emotions you experience with those you love.
If we asked you to give me 3 key messages: one for the people that took part in the event (athletes, officials, volunteers), one for people that did not participate but are would have liked to, and a last to those that would someday work in the Organization side of these events; what would you say?
For those who participated “one simple word - thank you!”. For those who will take part in the future, “enjoy, you will have beautiful memories”. For the people who will someday have the chance to work at organizing such events “just smile even if there are problems piling up, because these will always be solved somehow, and the atmosphere and optimism will remain in your memories forever”.
After this experience, Iwona has more time again with her loving family members: ‘a super husband, a wonderful daughter, a cat and a rabbit’. Being a ski lover we hope that she had a great winter season in the mountains and who knows, a return to her former hobby of gliding after all these years without flying!