The weather is getting warmer, the sun is shining and another academic year is coming to its end. You know you shouldn’t have even opened this article because you are in the process of preparing for your exams, but you simply can’t stop yourself from reading all these interesting facts about our Section in the Spotlight for June: ESN Zagreb.
ESN Zagreb, the first Croatian section, was founded in 2010 as Zagreb Exchange Committee by 10 adventurous students taking care of around 100 exchange students. Today, the section has 80 members taking care of more than 800 exchange students each semester, as well as 203 local students acting as buddies.
The section is divided into a Local Board, consisting of President, Vice-President and Treasurer, and 7 teams - ESNcard, InterCultural Exchange or ICE, Party, PR, SocialErasmus, Sports and Travel - where all the active members are. Additionally, they have a Project Manager and coordinators for Buddy, Mov’in Europe and ExchangeAbility, who work on their own. With such a broad structure, they make sure to cover all the work fields that contribute to the pleasure of their exchange students, as well as the growth and improvement of their section.
Speaking of section growth, ESN Zagreb recruits new members once a year, in September, by organising informative presentations, after which they choose new members based on their motivation letter and an interview they conduct with all candidates before making a final decision. New members receive ESN 4 Newbies documents, created especially for them and their understanding of the network, and they are welcomed to participate in various workshops, such as Mov’in Europe for Beginners or how to use Photoshop and Illustrator.
Alumni members play a big role in the section - they may not be actively involved in the organisation anymore, but they are always at the section’s disposal when it comes to sharing knowledge or educating members. They also organise two big teambuilding activities per year - they have a sleepover in a hiking cabin, where they do various activities to create a better connection between their members.
“In our section, each person has a chance to find a place for themselves, to find out what their interests are and to really give all of themselves in order to organise an event, workshop, trip, to design a booklet or to be the best buddy there ever was."
ESN Zagreb is also very active when it comes to the implementation of international projects of ESN. There is an entire team around the idea of SocialErasmus and they organise activities such as dog shelter visits, helping out in the soup kitchen, workshops in schools, kindergartens and retirement homes. Their ExchangeAbility coordinator has successfully organised several informative presentations on Erasmus+ opportunities for students with disabilities, as well as started some online campaigns in collaboration with the PR team.
When it comes to Mov'in Europe, they organise informative presentations and workshops for local students regarding Erasmus+ opportunities. They’ve also held CV and motivation letter writing workshops, and this year they have successfully organised “Employ Your Skills”, an ESAA-funded event on youth projects and entrepreneurship.
“The speakers were enthusiastic to see a motivated crowd eager to learn about entrepreneurship and youth projects, even if it meant waking up early on a Friday and Saturday morning.”
They also have two of their members on the national level - National Event Coordinator and National ExchangeAbility Coordinator - and several of their members are involved in the organisation of ESN Croatia’s national event, Croatian Erasmus Event or CEE. Their members are also active in Committees - ICE, NEC and ComCom - while some local Alumni are still involved in the work of the international level. They have successfully organised several international events, such as CNR back in 2012, SEEP in 2013, SECM in 2015 and NBM in 2016. This winter they are also going to organise their second National Platform.
“We think that it is very important to forward the information about all the different opportunities that the network offers, and to explain right from the very beginning what each person can gain through the work on different positions.”
They also take great pride in their cooperation with their buddy section, ESN Split, as well as ESN Lisboa, with whom they received an Erasmus+ grant back in 2014 for their project Twinning Up 4 Start Up.
With such a strong structure and motivated members, it seems there’s nothing ESN Zagreb can’t do. We expect great things from them in the upcoming year, as well as many more years to come.
- Tajana Mohnacki
OLA is a digitalisation initiative led by the Erasmus Student Network and the European University Foundation, aimed at simplifying student mobility by reducing administrative workloads and connecting European universities better.
Join the live stream from our launch event, where we will be hosting a first live demo of the Online Learning Agreement and discussing how you can implement it in your universities. We will be taking questions from the online audience!
On 23rd April, ESN elected a new International Board to lead the network for the year 2017-2018.
The Board of 2017-2018 is (from L-R): President - João Pinto (ESN PT), Vice-President - Tijana Stojanović (ESN RS), Treasurer - Tim Bastiaens (ESN BE), Communication Manager - Kacper Olczyk (ESN PL), Web Project Administrator - Jeroen van Lent (ESN SE).
The new International Board will take office on 15th July 2017.
The elections took place at AGM Germany 2017 in Berlin, with 900 representatives from 40 ESN member countries across Europe. At the event, several STARawards were also handed out, including an award for Best ESN Country, given to ESN Croatia this year. The title of Best ESN Section went to ESN UEK Cracow; the first time a section has won the award twice.
More awards at esn.org/starawards
In keeping with a tradition established in 2016, the annual Honorary Achievement Award was presented, this year to former President of ESN, Davide Capecchi. Davide received acknowledgment due to notable contributions to the development of ESN and his heavy involvement in a network-wide organisational review that has lasted almost a year.
The gathering also represented a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Erasmus+. In support of the success of the Erasmus programme in uniting people from diverse backgrounds, a message was sent loud and clear by the 900 students marching through the streets of Berlin: #WeAreOne. The march ended with Safi Sabuni, President of ESN, and Mr Richard Kühnel, Representative of the European Commission in Germany.
For a day-by-day report on AGM Germany 2017, visit ESNblog - The Voice of the Erasmus Generation.
What do the following have in common?
- A 10th birthday
- One of the most beautiful cities in Poland
- A unicorn
If you’re still unsure, let us help you with this. It’s time to give a round of applause to this month’s fabulous Section in the Spotlight, Kraków’s very own ESN AGH!
With humble beginnings raging back to the ancient smartphone-free times of 2007, ESN Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza (if you’re not Polish, don’t even try to pronounce this) started off as part of the University Student Council, but as the number of incoming Erasmus students grew, something had to be done. Dramatic changes came in 2010, when the HR coordinator organised an enormous recruitment, increasing the number of members threefold, at the same time creating the basis of what would eventually become one of the most well-known ESN sections on the international level.
ESN AGH’s board is run by 3 people, who oversee and lead the work of coordinators and 6 different committees to create the perfect experience for incoming exchange students. Did you know that ESN AGH has an active member from Spain? Talking about a proper international environment! After new members are chosen, they all participate in a special integration camp, where proper knowledge transfer and training sessions take place. Did we mention that it’s also a great place to make fantastic friends?
ESN AGH makes sure to keep older members busy and motivated too. Apart from organising a series of meetings – called “Saturday with ESN” – with the help of other sections in Kraków, the section also organises several barbeques throughout the year to get the positive vibes going, and plans to organise a Sailing Trip for ESNers after a long year of hard work. Nice job, ESN AGH!
When it comes to keeping Erasmus students entertained, these guys really do not mess around! From museum trips and international sporting events to cooking workshops, ESN AGH has something to suit everyone’s taste. In true ESN spirit, they often involve local communities in their activities too. The most popular are “Mobility Day”, an infomarket designed to promote mobility projects and the Erasmus+ programme, and the Mentor Programme, which last semester attracted over 300 mentors from all the different faculties in the university!
ESN AGH is proud to have two flagship projects, directed at the local student body and foreign students respectively. The first project is called HRproject, composed of a series of workshops organised by representatives of big local companies.
“The representatives lead trainings to show us how easily we can get a job and achieve a success during an interview.”
The second flagship project is an ideal combination of Mov'in Europe and ExchangeAbility, a project aptly called “ABLE TO MOVie”.
“It is about creating a series of movies showing the lives of students with disabilities at our university. We want to show them the facilities and encourage them to come here.”
So we’ve pretty much covered two of the three main features that make ESN AGH what it is today… but what about that mystical unicorn? Apart from being the national animal of Scotland (not kidding!), it has been the famous mascot of ESN AGH since 2011.
So there we go! Unicorns, a fantastic atmosphere among members and Erasmus students alike, and over 10 years of improving, learning, and having some good old fun along the way. Let’s raise our glasses to another 10, or even longer!
Written by Cris Ptasiński
ESN is nominating Valentin Dupouey from ESN Nancy for a second year as member of the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe. The following is an open letter from our candidate.
Dear Member Organisations of the European Youth Forum,
I’m very excited to be supported by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) for the upcoming elections. I truly hope you will give me your trust for a second mandate as a member of the Advisory Council on Youth (AC) of the Council of Europe.
Being a member of the AC is a positively challenging experience thanks to the diversity of topics addressed by the AC, but also due to the structures of the Council of Europe and of the co-management system within the youth sector. Being part of this unique structure that allows meaningful participation of young people is a constant learning experience that requires dedication, a broad understanding of youth issues in Europe and the ability to work and cooperate with a wide diversity of stakeholders.
The experience I’ve lived during this first year as member of the AC provides the basis for what I want to help achieve during a second mandate. Steadily, with a small team of AC members, we have been actively working to make the work of the AC more accessible, better understood and more visible through renewed communication practices. This work should be carried on in order for the great work of the AC to be recognised outside our usual circles. This goal goes beyond a simple communication issue. Ensuring clarity and visibility is also a way to increase the impact of our work. A stronger understanding and knowledge of the results of our work and how it can be used by young people, their organisations, by local and regional authorities, and by governments will strengthen our position as an impactful actor in the youth field.
Internally, I want to actively take part in the knowledge transfer and training of the newly elected AC members. As new members, the input and knowledge we received from more experienced members were invaluable to help us navigate in the sometimes unsettling waters of the Council of Europe’s structure. I believe the transition process can still be improved to ensure the full and effective participation of new members from the very start of their mandate.
Content-wise, I want to keep focusing on youth participation. This question of active youth participation has been at the heart of all my voluntary and professional engagements for the last 8 years in the NGO sector. I am committed to keep working for a renewed cooperation between the Advisory Council and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities which, I am convinced, can lay the foundations for stronger youth participation at the local level. Besides, I believe that the current issue of shrinking civic space, which has been integrated in the Council of Europe Youth Sector’s priorities for the upcoming two years, is a fundamental threat to democracy affecting young people in particular. I am committed to support the actions the AC will lead under this orientation of the youth sector’s programme.
Finally, I would like to put both ESN’s experience with the European Youth Foundation (EYF) and my own project management experience at the service of the Programming Committee (PC). The EYF and the PC have been constantly improving the way the EYF is cooperating with its beneficiaries. This work needs continuous adjustments to the reality of the work and projects of youth NGOs. I believe my experience as project manager can be a strong added-value to the work of the PC.
My long-term engagement within the Erasmus Student Network, within the European Youth Forum (YFJ) as an active volunteer of the platform, and currently within the Young European Federalists, from whom I have also received the informal support, will undoubtedly help me represent the diversity of views and interests of YFJ’s Member Organisations within the Advisory Council.
I’ll be happy to exchange with you during COMEM about my experience in and aspirations for the AC, but feel free to already contact me at email@example.com!
Now you have a chance to help future international students, by submitting your best Erasmus tips! Bring online your expertise on accommodation, administration, social life or finances, to make it easier for the next generation of Erasmus+.
Selected submissions will be published on the Erasmus+ App, new mobile platform aimed to support exchange programmes, to be released in June 2017.
Share #ErasmusPlusTips with your former exchange friends and take part in this initiative by 30th of April!
Join or create a Junior Enterprise!
Just like ESN, our friends at JADE are working hard within the active student community. Are you running a business or aspire to do so? Then JADE might be exactly what you need.
Please give a warm welcome to one of the newer sections in our network and our Section in the Spotlight for April: ESN Nicosia!
ESN Nicosia is the only section in the country, which means that the Local Board acts as the National Board of ESN Cyprus as well. The Local Board was first established in March 2015 and consists of the following positions: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, PR, Vice PR and Education Officer.
At the moment, the section has 30 active members who support the work of all Board members as well as the work of coordinators of ESN’s international projects. Whenever they organise an event, no matter the scope, members form an Organising Committee (OC) and divide the tasks among themselves.
Actually, there are two requirements for new members to pass the transition period: attend at least two regular meetings, and become an OC member once. Additionally, they organise some amazing teambuilding activities, formal and informal ones - they do karaoke, further explore the island, they cook and study together, and during Christmas time they arrange the famous Secret Santa game!
“When we decided to join the ESN Nicosia family after our Erasmus experience, we didn't know each other, but now we have a great bond from the teambuilding activities we've been through.”
Older members are always welcome in the section since they make sure that the knowledge transfer process is done correctly and efficiently. In the beginning of each academic year they organise a training for new members with local and international ESN trainers where every new member gets an older member as a buddy.
ESN Nicosia plays a big role in the life of Erasmus students in Cyprus. Erasmus and other international students often express the wish to join the section, so the local members try to involve them the best way they can, usually by inquiring about their needs and ideas for events and activities. They organise a wide variety of events, both weekly and one-time events. Their Welcome Weeks usually consist of movie screenings, karaoke evenings, parties, tour to the old city of Nicosia, among others.
As a fairly new section, they have more than enough room for exploring new events such as visit to the paintball park, and a workshop on how to make and taste souvlaki. Every Monday they organise movie screenings, where students get to vote on which movie they want to watch, while Wednesdays are reserved for theme parties, and Thursdays for Tandem Language Exchange meetings with various games. They are very much aware of the beauty of their island and they are using it to its maximum by organising various trips, beach parties, exploring various villages and monuments, hiking at the mountains and parks, and similar.
They are especially proud of their flagship project which consists of their participation at the largest carnival parade in Cyprus, which is also a part of their tradition. The parade usually entails around thousands of participants and hundreds of groups, and they contribute with a group of approximately 200 international and local students. They opt for themes that promote the Erasmus spirit, like “Destination Erasmus”, ''Make Erasmus not War'', ''Erasmus Gypsies'', etc. This year they will be organising it with the Foundation for the Management of European Lifelong Learning Programmes, since it will be dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of Erasmus Programme, and this year’s theme will be ''Passports and Tickets''.
“This way, we manage to bring local and international students together, showing that cultural differences are not an obstacle for having a great time.”
They are very active when it comes to the implementation of ESN’s international projects. Under SocialErasmus they have organised a series of events under the common name “Random acts of kindness” which consisted of free hugs, candle making for children in need, blood donations, clothes donations to the Red Cross, and similar. Under the ExchangeAbility and MappED! projects, they have managed to map four big Universities and make their common activities accessible for students with disabilities. When it comes to Mov'in Europe, they organise mobility days, radio shows, and Tandem meetings under the slogan "to have a second language is to possess a second soul".
They have a good cooperation with their University, International Relations Office, National Agency and other NGO’s in the area. In October 2016 they became a Connected Member at Cyprus Youth Council. In collaboration with the University of Cyprus' radio show, "Erasmus on Air", they host current Erasmus students in Nicosia and locals who are willing to share their experience and the benefits of studying abroad. With only one section they have managed to cover all Universities in Cyprus, which is an amazing success!
ESN Nicosia has managed to achieve big things in such a little amount of time, and we wish them the best of luck in their further growth and development - you made us proud!
Written by Tajana Mohnacki
ESN is delighted to host the Spring 2017 edition of SocialErasmus Week during the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme, to show students and young people alike how student mobility is enriched by volunteering.
SocialErasmus Week is organised twice a year by the coordinators of the SocialErasmus project, to unite both international and local students across Europe in activities and events that will make a positive change in their local community.
From 3rd to 9th April 2017, project coordinators of 40 countries will host events to raise awareness and take action under the 8 causes of SocialErasmus: animals, disasters, discrimination, education, environment, health, poverty, and violence.
While celebrating and enjoying their Erasmus experience, students and young people will have the chance to take part in activities such as food drives and donations, fundraisers, clothes donations, animal shelter visits, educational workshops, and many more.
Some of the highlights from the past editions of SocialErasmus Week were activities such as the Nenäpäivä Charity Bake Sale by ESN Jyväskylä (Finland), Unite Against Racism by ESN Bilbao (Spain), Playdate by ESN Tartu (Estonia), Cycling Without Borders by ESN Odense (Denmark), Eko Kosice by ESN Kosice (Slovakia), and Dash The Trash! by ESN Eger (Hungary).
The SocialErasmus project combines Erasmus exchange and youth volunteering with the slogan ‘Leave Your Mark’, inspiring local and Erasmus students to enrich society by taking part in the activities.
‘Thanks to the Erasmus programme, we have such amazing opportunities to help students make the most of their mobility, and to make society better for everyone. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Erasmus than by showing how it benefits both the students and the local society as well.’
- Gizem Pelin Altun, Project Coordinator
To follow the project and activities of SocialErasmus Week in your country or city, search social media for the hashtags #SocialErasmusWeek, #LeaveYourMark and #SocialErasmus.