Between the 19th and 22nd of May, members of the Erasmus Student Network and the Erasmus Mundus Association gathered in Brussels for the GlobErasmus training. It aimed at educating the participants about global citizenship and global competencies developed through different organisations and reinforcing them through workshops and training sessions with external partners with an overall goal of empowering the Erasmus alumni and volunteers.
GlobErasmus is one of many steps ESN is taking in expanding own horizons and keeping up with the developments of the new Erasmus programme which aims to expand globally. The training allowed for new knowledge and a wider perspective on activities we are already implementing and the ones we could organise to ensure even larger impact and spread our mission of "students helping students" globally.
Right from the start, the participants had the opportunity to learn how different organisations approach the topic of global citizenship from guests such as Ajaree Tavornmas from Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), Sebastiano Putoto from Young European Federalists (JEF) and Jo Deman from World Organisation of Scout Movement (WOSM).
In the following days, participants continued to further explore the relation between their organisations and global citizenship education with a focus was on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Participants of GlobErasmus analysed activities of their own organisations that already tackle SDGs and explored new methods of approaching them. Together, they began building a set of recommendations that address each of the SDGs in relation to the fields of actions of the organisations.
Finally, the goal of setting the ground for potential collaboration between ESAA members focused on the topic of global citizenship and competence will result in a Toolkit about Citizenship Education in ESAA organisations based on the inputs from participants of the GlobErasmus.
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The event was organised by the Erasmus Student Network and the Erasmus Mundus Association, in partnership with ESN Greece and funded by the Erasmus+ Student and Alumni Alliance (ESAA).
The winner of the last Section in the Spotlight of this semester takes us to the south of Europe where the land meets the Atlantic ocean. We will be transferred to one of the nicest European capitals which is famous for the dessert called pastels. Let’s meet the winner of this month - ESN Lisboa.
The section was founded in 2008 by nine former exchange students. Even though there are multiple universities in the city, they decided to found only one section to establish good relations with all universities. ESN Lisboa has been growing quite fast, especially due to a high number of former exchange students. Nowadays there are 60 active members who work in eight section departments (e.g. Sports and Trips, Integration and Cultural Events, Human Resources) and are managed by six board members.
Every semester ESN Lisboa recruits new members. Whoever wants to become a member of the section has to go through an interview with experienced members. After that, potential members help for a month with the section’s agenda and then they are evaluated and promoted to junior members. After 3 more months, the General Assembly votes on the seniority and junior members become full members of the section.
Not only do they have a strong team of current members, but ESN Lisboa also cooperates with section Alumni. The Alumni network provides the section with guidance and support whenever it is needed. To fully integrate Alumni into the section’s work, there is an annual gathering called the History Day organised. Alumni have a chance to tell their stories to the current members and remind them of the history of the section itself.
As it was said earlier, section members are its most valuable asset, therefore, there are many events organised to strengthen their relationships, keep their motivation and teach them more about ESN. For example, the Team Buildings take place every semester and they are targeted especially at newbies. The event is aimed at teaching newbies everything about ESN through a series of workshops with examples of real-life situations and how to deal with them. Last but not least, there is an event called ESN Lisboa Upgrade. This event is also organised for its members and is dedicated to all section positions and their specifications, especially to the transition of new candidates who achieve the important positions within the section.
Apart from internal events, ESN Lisboa organises lots of events for exchange students. Working in a lively city like Lisbon brings many opportunities to integrate international students into the local way of living. It is worth mentioning that members of the section organise the event called Surf Days where international students can learn how to surf. Furthermore, there are trips to other Portuguese cities, hiking trips to national parks nearby, events like indoor climbing and many more sporting activities.
ENS Lisboa also organises parties during each semester. At the beginning of the semester, there is the biggest Mega Welcome Party where more than 1 000 students have fun and meet each other. In addition, the section organises PubCrawls, free live concerts, Quiz and Movie Nights and Pool Parties etc.
In ESN Lisboa members believe that integration is meant to be implemented not only between exchange students but also between exchange and local students. To maintain this they use Papaya Buddy System where there are more than 600 registrations per semester. In order to help international students with their start in the new city, the section members publish the Welcome Book. This almost 100-page guide consists of all information needed for better integration of international students. There are tips for moving abroad, information about the city, accommodation, universities, ESN events, traditions, must-see places and more.
ESN Lisboa also put an emphasis on social issues. They believe that the Erasmus+ programme is a strong tool to bring about change. Thanks to a successful application for an ESAA grant the members were able to help a disadvantaged community in central Lisboa, for example, help a family of a single mother with four children to rebuild their apartment. The section organises many more events aimed at social issues where they help local communities, homeless people, abandoned animals etc.
The principle ‘students helping students’ is taken very seriously in ESN Lisboa. The section with its 10-year-long history has been working ever since to become a place where members can find not only friends but become a family of ESNers who they can always rely on. And thanks to their hard work and tons of events organised every semester, they assure the unforgettable memories and experiences for international and local students.
The story of ESN Oviedo started back in 2011 when they became a section of ESN Spain. A year later, their voices were already loudly heard. A thousand voices to be exact - during a national event, a thousand people gathered and sang the regional anthem, the Asturian one, breaking a world record. What a way to start their journey that will sometime after lead them to spotlight!
ESN Oviedo works in an efficient team made out of a five-member board and a General Assembly - all section members that have the right to propose any topic and contribute to the development of the section with new ideas. This way, everyone is included in the work of the section. On the other hand, members work in committees specialised on certain fields, always bearing in mind to follow the causes of ESN. The events cover sports, parties, socially inclusive and cultural events. In fact, some of these events earned them recognition not just within the network, but all around their local community as well!
There is no better way to bond than through sports and culture.
To keep their students active and in good health, ESN Oviedo organises dynamic sports events, such as football, volleyball, basketball and rugby matches or hiking and promenades in nature. Not to forget the perks of being on the coast - beach volleyball and surfing are often on the ‘events menu’.
Activities that serve to have students bond with the locals and between themselves are also numerous, and they include international dinners, speed friending, or the heartwarming “Host an Erasmus for Christmas”. Making the students feel like an important part of the community comes with organising blood donations, strolls to animal shelters, and visits to the nursing home.
ESN Oviedo tries hard to introduce the incoming students to not only Spanish but also to the regional and local culture, by organising city tours telling the beautiful history of the Asturias region in order to let the Erasmus students know the area in depth. However, the Spanish culture gets its time to shine during events such as Tandem, Film and Poetry Evenings that also aim to improve the students’ language skills.
Feeling the region through cultural exchange.
These inclusive and cultural exchange-pumped events do for sure make them constantly proud, but there is one certain activity that made noise all over the Asturias region. For two years, ESN Oviedo organised Rural Erasmus in Schools (EiS), while the next year’s event is already in the making.
Last year, the section paid a visit to a school in Panes, a very rural village situated on the eastern boundary of Asturias that has only 568 inhabitants. The purpose of this Rural EiS was to show the Erasmus students another part of Asturias, its unique and ancient culture, and to give the local students the opportunity to have direct contact with other cultures which they may not have the chance to meet due to the isolation of their village.
This year, they tried to go even further. In March, they organised a whole Rural EiS Weekend in Grandas de Salime, a village of 853 inhabitants situated on the western boundary of Asturias, in a unique area with a very special cultural mixture of Galician and Asturian features. In this very traditional and rural landscape, there was only one school in the village, which they visited with eight international students.
Among other things, the international students presented their countries to primary school students through facts, traditional dances and food; had a chat and a debate with secondary school students; lived the experience as pilgrims; visited the “castros” (traditional and ancient houses of the inhabitants of these valleys) with local children to learn about the carnival traditions and “fala”, the endangered language of the area. Thanks to this activity, ESN Oviedo appeared on the regional Asturian television (TPA), in the main regional newspaper (La Nueva España) and took part in an interview with a Youtube radio, where the international students talked about the weekend and the benefits ESN Oviedo brings for them.
Now, why is this activity so precious and valuable? Because ESN Oviedo managed to introduce international students to the rural and traditional areas of the region, to promote the culture of the region, to provide the locals with a touch of different countries’ cultures, and to promote international students as the ambassadors of intercultural learning and global citizenship. What a way to work for the right cause!
Family and friendship above all.
Since they were founded in 2011, ESN Oviedo has achieved a lot. Last year alone, they managed to double the number of their members and days of Welcome Week and increased the number of their trips, showing unknown places in Spain to their international students.
They say for themselves that they are a small section, but able to make a real impact on the international students and the local society, especially by carrying out projects such as Mov’in Europe and Erasmus in Schools. As they are the only ESN section in Asturias, they consider themselves responsible for the internationalisation of the region. Except for making their region a better place, their motivation also comes from the inside, from the section itself. They believe everyone should feel like they belong to a family, and that is how they treat their members and international students.
ESN Oviedo is one big family of mobility ambassadors that tries hard to leave an impact on both Erasmus students and their region while having great fun on the road. What more can you wish for from your ESN section?
This month’s edition of Section in the Spotlight will take us to central Europe. To the section which organises countless events, shows the culture of the city, and cooperates with other sections to bring unique experiences to incoming and also, local students. Read more about the inspirational members of the section ESN AGH Kraków!
ESN AGH Kraków was founded in 2006 by two members of the Students’ Council of AGH University of Science and Technology as an answer to the need of taking care of international students. Nowadays, the section consists of 72 regular members who do an amazing job every day.
There are many reasons for this. The first one being the carefully organised recruitment that takes place twice a year and consists of a couple of phases. Firstly, there is the promotion of the section consisting of public stands around the university with the introduction of the section and its function. Then, the students who are interested - both local and international - can fill in the application form and are invited to an assessment center. The last phase is a personal interview with potential candidates.
Also, there are many events organised for members. The most important one is the Newbies Camp. This event is a perfect way for newbies to get to know other members, boost their motivation, and pair with more experienced members as their buddies who are there to show them the ESN world in detail. Apart from this event, there are regular meetings such as ‘Workshops Weekends’ and ‘Saturday with ESN’ which three other sections from Kraków join and there are internal and external trainers invited, too. Finally, it is vital for ESN AGH Krakow to keep the family atmosphere so they usually organise celebrations of Easter and Christmas for all their members.
International students are fully involved in the section’s work. They attend the recruitment events, help to organise the flagship project of the section and also help the university’s Office of Foreign Affairs with leaflets, videos, etc. ESN AGH Krakow even has its own band run by international students!
To welcome international students there is the Orientation Week prepared for them every semester. Karaoke Party, City Game, visit to Weliczka the Salt Mine and weekend trips are not missing. Also, ESN AGH Kraków does their best to organise cultural events such as visiting local museums, going to philharmonic concerts, celebrating Christmas in a traditional way or planning cooking classes where international students can learn how to cook traditional Polish meals. A great weekly event which should be mentioned is the Tandem organised in cooperation with ESN Kraków United. During the event international students and also ESNers have a chance to try to talk to each other in several languages.
The flagship project of the section is Exchange Zone. It is a cyclical event which promotes mobility and culture among Polish students. The main idea is sharing experiences of students who have been on mobility in a chosen country and show its culture with the help of an international student from the same country.
The section also promotes events leading to inclusiveness. In the frame of ExchangeAbility the event called ‘You don’t need eyes to see’ takes place. During this event, attendees experienced what it's like to visit a museum as a blind person. The section also works on video episodes of ABLE TO MOVie where Kraków is shown as an accessible city and mobility is promoted among people with disabilities. For the SocialErasmus project the section is involved in the Noble Box Projects where they collect money and prepare Christmas presents for people and families who struggle financially. Also leaving international students can give their stuff they don’t need anymore to incoming students and help them to save some money. For all of this ESN AGH Krakoów within the ESN Kraków United was awarded as The Most Inclusive Section in Poland.
The section also promotes projects such as ErasmusIntern, ESN Survey where their alumni are the international coordinator, and ESNcard. Regarding ESNcard there is an ESNcard party held where partners and activities are promoted. Last but not least, ESN AGH Kraków contributed to the origin of International Erasmus Games in 2015.
The members of ESN AGH Kraków are not only visible within the section. Thanks to the promotion of the national and international level of ESN to the members, they are very active there. They even got the title as the best within the ESN Poland Association and the section with the biggest involvement. They eagerly implement new projects and best practices from both levels. There are regular meetings to discuss current projects and everything happening in the network.
The sentence which describes ESN AGH Kraków the best is: ‘We never give up’. They eagerly work to bring the best experience to the incoming students, to involve local students and help the whole network. Their biggest success was the organisation of this year’s CNR. Apart from their own events and activities planned every day they are also proud of the section cooperation which exists since 2012: ESN Uni Wien, ESN BME, ESN BFI, ESN BOKU, and ESN Usti. One can say that ESN AGH Kraków are unicorns among the ESN network - by the way, this thought is also proven by their choice of the mascot!