Getting to Know Europeians - Istillian - Climbing Up From Down Under
An interview with Istillian
Written by Forilian
In an effort to let everyday Europeians know more about their fellow citizens, Getting to Know Europeians is an interview project that asks Europeians casual questions about themselves. This is the sixth issue of this project, and you can expect more of these in the coming days and weeks!
Istillian, our former first minister, second minister, and minister of communications, joined the forums in May 2019. Like many other Europeians, however, his NationStates (NS) journey started earlier: in 2009 exactly, when he joined NS on recommendation from a political sciences professor at his university. Istillian then "played around with nation creating and answering of issues for a time." After this, he returned to NS in 2016, and received a recruitment telegram from Mousebumples. According to Istillian, he actually looked at the forums at that time, but hesitated from joining. "Instead at this point I remember looking through the World Assembly a lot more, and kept playing with my main nation. Finally, in May 2019, I got the courage to sign up for the forums and immediately joined the Europeian Republican Navy." While "things at this point in time were slow for the Navy," after partaking in a Navy operation Istillian was hooked (pun not intended). Around this time, Istillian also joined the Ministry of Communications, where he "found a passion for writing about NationStates and Europeia." Furthermore, through "talking on Discord and being asked to join in on the creation of articles, planning and organizing of events, [and] contributing to our politics" Istillian gradually embedded himself in the Europeian community.
Istillian was chosen to be minister of communications by First Minister Pichtonia to replace Maowi, who was moved to the Ministry of Recruitment. Istillian's terms as minister of communications spanned four first ministers: first, for three weeks under Pichtonia, then under First Minister Calvin Coolidge. Unfortunately, due to real life issues, Istillian had to resign two weeks into the term. Then, Istillian returned to the minister chair three months later to replace Xecrio under First Minister Sopo, and later First Minister Dax. "Being a minister, and minister of communications especially, was a very valuable experience for me in figuring out how to lead and encourage others. I felt that I’d gone from a heavy contributor to the EBC, to someone that was trying to help others generate and evaluate their own work, and importantly was trying to implement a precedent of having a deputy take over with the same capability and initiative after my own term was done. I think Hezekon did this well with Maowi, Maowi with me, and then, quite earlier and more aloof than expected, myself with Xecrio." Istillian felt that his most current term as minister of communciations was a highlight, given the "quality of journalism being put out after a lot of ideas and planning, the storm of people banding together in the ministry to make the EBC a vibrant news outlet once again." He added that "after a dip in activity, it was really inspiring to see."
Istillian then ran with Dax for second minister. When asked about why he accepted Dax's offer for a campaign, Istillian had two major reasons. "I’d seen her work as Minister of Culture, as a Senator, and knew she had a solid grasp and understanding of what needed to change in our region at the time; Dax was also a powerhouse of NationStates knowledge and information to me too." When reflecting on the campaign, Istillian was "a little caught by surprise" that Dax asked him to be her second minister given his "relatively new experience."
"I suppose, for me, the reason I ran alongside Dax though was that I wanted to join in a campaign that I was passionate about, that I believed could actually implement its promises, and that I thought would allow for Europeia to grow under a new leader that I trusted and had ultimate faith in. I learned a hell of a lot in the process; it was my first time going through a “Get Out the Vote” initiative (which thankfully GraVandius also provided a handy guide to at the time), I took part in what I believe was the first Second Minister debate (coming out somewhat unscathed), and we were up against some tough competition with Calvin/Dakota, Bowzin/Cuddles, and OD/Kuramia. Ultimately it was one of the best learning experiences I've had to date, and showed me what it takes to run a successful campaign, and I truly believe helped lead me to successfully become First Minister too – without Dax running, I don’t know what my own Europeian experience would look like today, and I think our region would be in a very different place because of how historical that specific race was for our region."
Despite narrowly losing the election, the Dax/Istillian pair did eventually become first and second minister following the resignation of First Minister Sopo. Istillian agreed that picking up in the middle of the term is a hard thing to do, and this problem was exacerbated by the activity slump the region was experiencing at the time. However, Dax and Istillian both saw this term as an opportunity to "launch our energy and commitment into the region in a way that neither of us had done before."
Istillian also described this second minister term as a term where he really flourished in Europeia. "I don't think I've ever reached out to so many writers, been so involved with recruitment or culture in the way that I was, and at the end of the term I'd even jumped in to do my first radio show with Calvin; which sounds like "oh another radio show", but at this point in time I could see that people didn't know how easy it was to get involved on air, cuddles had just been removed from office due to low activity (and understandable real life issues affecting him) and I felt we needed to hit a positive note at the end of the term. I'll say this, I had the time, and the motivation of working for someone like Dax fuelling me. I think there were a lot of little things I noticed the ministers in this term doing, being instructed by Dax, to set the region up for success in the long term. Things that I still notice today (even the ministry application threads being under the executive clerk for easy of transition between ministers/terms for example), and it was genuinely one of the best and most exciting times I've had in Europeia, especially because of the banding together and brilliance from a lot of citizens just joining, or rejoining, too."
After his second minister term, Istillian ran for first minister with Hezekon, whom you can read about here. Istillian said that he ran for first minister because he felt quite "confident," he "knew the issues facing the region at the time," he "had an understanding of the foundation that First Minister Dax and the other ministers I was working with were trying to build in their individual ministries," and he "knew the areas that needed the most attention." A big focus of Istillian's campaign was to not put anything that was unachievable in his platform, and also “to put in a foundation that provided flexibility and movement for my choices for ministers to work with - otherwise I'd risk finding myself at the end of a lot of understandable public backlash, or restricting my ministers from being able to be creative." Istillian adds that he "strongly [feels] now that [he doesn't] like taking on roles that [he's] unsure if [he] can keep up with the demands of," due to Drecq inquiring in his confirmation thread as minister of communications as to whether he will be around to serve the whole term after resigning suddenly in the term before. Due to this, Istillian took more time to post his standing, as he "was doing a lot of planning in my real life to ensure [he] had the availability."
In terms of why he chose Hezekon as his second minister, Istillian said that Hezekon is a "voice of reason and guidance" that he felt he needed. "Hezekon was also a leader in communications with a solid history and work ethic. He'd been a mentor to me, and to others, and he truly got us both through some hard day's and struggles throughout the term. In essence, I chose Hezekon because he's reliable, dedicated, and won't hold back with being honest about things when you need to hear it."
Istillian then became first minister, and soon faced an unprecendeted population surge due to the Drew boom. Istillian said that this was a highlight in his term. "The Drew Boom led to Communications writing a whole lot more, recruitment drives then being led by McEntire, new citizens arriving in droves, and overall a huge boost of life that I think we desperately needed in the region; then followed by an outstanding term in Radio, I know this was Calvin's victory, but it was absolutely a highlight for me seeing that success." Istillian was also "stoked" to add his signature to the Executive Modernisation Bill, and considers that another major highlight from his term.
In terms of low points, there were also several: the Executive Midterm Satisfaction Poll had some criticism towards his administration, although Istillian did add that it was criticism that was "genuinely good to have." Removing Bowzin as attorney general was also a low point, as Istillian had a lot of respect for Bowzin and was happy to see him as attorney general, which made removing him difficult both publicly and privately. Finally, there were some problems between his staff, but Istillian and Hezekon "were quick to help, provide support too, and remedy" these situations.
In terms of his future in the region, Istillian admits that his political life has been "struggling a little bit" after the end of his first minister term. To remedy this, he has "tried a little bit of everything out to see what [he enjoys] the most." "Being a deputy in Radio was such a fun and unique experience, and earning my first Sapphire Star because of the work I put in during McEntire's term was incredible. I suppose now I've also been exploring the greater NationStates a little more, and trying to expand and refine my knowledge when it comes to other regions and how they work - which has fit in well with my experience in the Navy too." Istillian says that he would also love to try out a role in our legislative branch. "Having represented people before, I'd like to do it again in this way, and I'm always up for some new challenges to increase my Europeian knowledge and experience." Istillian adds that while his real life has been busy recently, "my fingers are crossed for changing that in the near future, so I'm not up for saying anything for certain until I know my availability is secure, but I'm always looking to do more where and when I can."
Istillian has the following piece of advice to newcomers:
"Everyone's experience is very different in joining, and personally the hardest thing for me was just saying hello to people, and then getting involved. But I've overall been very lucky with my experiences, and met and worked with some incredible people, so I suppose I would say this: Don't be afraid to join a ministry, say hello on discord, or even run for a position in government - that first hurdle is the hardest, but it gets easier from there. As a newcomer we want to see how we can help you achieve anything, and Europeia has the experts that have been through that very same experience, and can guide you to wherever you want to go; at the very least, it's always a good thing to have a new face in our community to talk to and learn from."
Istillian is one of the region's hardest workers, and his work deserves to be recognised. Let's give it up for Istillian!