ENIL: Starting a Job, Discovering a Network

ENIL: Starting a Job, Discovering a Network

How do you start writing about leaving a job which has allowed you to grow and explore, meet great people and develop a lasting passion for Independent Living? This was the question I asked myself when I started to write this article. Several versions later I decided that maybe it was best to just write about the experiences.

I remember hearing about the ENIL job advertisement during a GRIP activity in 2015. However, when I read it, I thought it would be impossible, as I did not have the experience nor the background in Independent Living. However, by some miracle and thanks to the trust of Nadia and Jamie I got the job.

During the first day in the office, I was welcomed by Marco, who would be a ‘partner in crime’ and friend in the office for five years. The start at ENIL was very intense with the Freedom Drive preparations in full swing and a new office in Brussels to set up in an orderly fashion :p.

The 2015 Freedom Drive immediately threw me into the ENIL network. I was able to meet disabled people and Independent Living activist from all over the world. This network of people is probably my favourite thing about ENIL. Throughout the years, I was able to travel throughout Europe, from Belarus in the north-east to Lisbon in the south-west, to raise awareness on Independent Living and disability rights. All these experiences expanded my horizon and gave me the friendship and confidence to fight for the values of Independent Living in EU policy.

Working for ENIL has been a wonderful adventure. It was great to develop projects together with the EVS/ESC volunteers or to see the impact of the network during the Independent Living Day.  I will always remember the ENIL Study Session or the moments when ENIL members grilled the European Commission with direct questions during the European Disability Days. In short, ENIL helped me to grow both on a personal and professional level.

I would like to thank Dilyana and Peter who helped me find my way at the start of my job. Ines, Zara, Kapka, Nadia and Jamie who were always there to give advice. Lili and Teo who brought structure to my thinking and adventure to my job. Kamil and Natasa who made stress disappear. Laura A. who is saving TRIPS, Laura P. who taught me how to host parties on Zoom, and finally Marco and Dionyssis who made ENIL a family to me.

It would be impossible to thank everyone who enriched my ENIL experience, therefore I would finally like to thank all the ENIL members, ENIL youth members and ENIL board members for welcoming me in the ENIL family. Even though ENIL will no longer be my job, Independent Living will remain my passion and I hope to see all of you soon during ENIL events.

Have a nice day and see you soon!

Frank Sioen

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