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!
Trips to the heart of Romania, plenty of socially inclusive events, World Cafes, and a determined team of volunteers - all of this combined describes our March edition of section in the spotlight!
ESN Cluj-Napoca, the first section of ESN Romania, was founded in 2004, and now welcomes the biggest number of Erasmus+ students in the country, from all four of the universities in the city.
A good team doesn’t come unprepared
Having a large number of students requires great care and knowledge from the members. For this reason, ESN Cluj-Napoca recruits newbies twice a year. To keep the members educated, they hold General Meetings - regular departmental meetings, that include monthly workshops based on previous National Platforms or international events.
Before the semester kicks off, they organise a day dedicated specifically to newbies where they are taught the basics of ESN, ESN causes, and the way the section works. It is easier to memorise all of that information in a pleasant atmosphere, and for that reason the newbies take part in team-building games, followed by a dinner to get to know each other and connect with one another.
Now that they are all set to go…
After all these preparations, it is time to kick off the semester with daily activities running on for two weeks, which include buddy-student meetups, a professional city tour, visits to museums, a treasure hunt, speed friending, board games evenings, quiz nights on various topics, and many more. Erasmus Sports Competition, a local edition of International Erasmus Games, follows not long after, to keep the young muscles fit for the upcoming semester.
To show that Erasmus is not only about partying and sports, ESN Cluj-Napoca organises a rich programme promoting inclusiveness, not only during the Social Inclusion Days. They focus on the integration of the incoming students in the community and organise all kinds of events, such as: World Cafes, where they debate how they can fight discrimination; photo exhibitions based on the ESN causes; social thematic oriented Movie Nights, Blind Dates where participants are blindfolded; Erasmus in Schools to talk about stereotypes; Share a Smile Day in parks to spread hugs and smiles; and of course, visits to dog shelters to raise awareness of animal well-being.
Nothing beats good old Dracula
But the activities that they believe are their flagship ones, are their trips. Romania is a large country with amazing landscapes and captivating folklore and legends, so it is no wonder that the trips are very successful. ESN Cluj-Napoca organises a one-day trip to Turda Salt Mine - a historical salt mine that after restoration became one of the most popular underground attractions of the area; a trip to Maramures, the heart of folkloric medieval Romania, and a trip to Moldova - the land of monasteries.
Furthermore, they participate in all national events: Escape to Vama Veche, a trip that marks the beginning of summer by heading off to the sandy beaches of the Black Sea’s Vama Veche; and Halloween in Transylvania - an adventure through Dracula’s realm.
Sharing (your culture) is caring
To show that Erasmus isn’t an exclusive community, ESN Cluj-Napoca tries hard to involve local students in their activities, make them meet the incoming students, and learn about their diverse cultures. Therefore, they have original events such as Travelling Evening, during which local students can learn how to travel on a budget, an international flag parade, or Intercultural Evenings where the students represent their countries through facts, traditional dishes and specific activities. At the same time, close connections with other NGOs and student organisations help to integrate incoming students into the community by organising activities and trainings (such as the one of Red Cross for first aid).
ESN Cluj-Napoca doesn’t stay local
The hard work of ESN Cluj-Napoca’s members isn’t only visible on the local level – on the contrary, they also actively take part in the work on the National and International levels, so in the past year alone they have had three of their members in the National Board, three members in the Communication Committee, and three members in the Network Committee.
The section’s oldest members encourage their volunteers to get involved on the other levels by telling their own experiences and stories, as well as trying to support them financially in their travel costs, with the help of universities.
All it takes is...
As a section that has been around for 15 years, they have had their ups and downs, but the determination and motivation of its members has kept it going all this time.
What are the reasons behind it? As they say, good knowledge transfer between generations, constant cooperation with the biggest university in Romania, and involvement in the higher levels of ESN.
At the same time, they never forget their roots and always represent them with pride. No wonder Erasmus students love coming there!
Eager to know who Section in the Spotlight is this month? The section comes from the third biggest city in Poland, their members can be met basically at every ESN event and it is also a home section for one of the IB members. Sit down with a cup of coffee and give a round of applause to ESN-EYE Łódź.
ESN-EYE originated in 1999 and was first a part of former organisation European Youth Exchange Poland. After the organisation stopped running, ESN-EYE didn’t give up and joined ESN. Currently, the section is managed by 5 board members working together with 14 project groups including Social Inclusion, Erasmus Games, and many more.
The section is unique in many ways. One of which is their recruitment process. First of all, there are promotional events at each faculty and special meetings where the activities of the section are presented. Candidates then get a buddy to help them to get involved. After a semester of work, they are invited to an interview and the most motivated people are accepted. This process ensures high quality of section members.
Then it is very well cared for by section members. Not only are there informal meetings for new members with their buddies, a 3-day training and an integration event take place twice a year. Eduk8ers, Alumni and section trainers are invited to hold workshops for participants. Apart from this, there are informal events such as bowling nights or visits to escape rooms every month.
Regarding the international students, the members of ESN-EYE try to make them get the most out of Polish culture. The biggest event is “Murals Trips” when Erasmus students discover the street art around Łódź.
“In our opinion, it is important to provide Erasmus students with unusual, extraordinary experiences, to make their stay in Poland unforgettable - to throw themselves into things they wouldn’t experience back home or on their own”, says Dominika Jastrzębowska, President of ESN-EYE.
They also organise Canoe Trip and Integration Weekend. Regarding Canoe trip, it is a one day trip by bus, all day spent canoeing and finished off with a barbecue. Integration Weekend is aimed at international students, ESN Members and Mentors (the ones that aren’t ESN Members) and is considered as the most successful event of the section. The event is held at the beginning of every semester with almost 180 participants getting out of town. Through different games and sporting activities, participants get to know each other.
The biggest section event annually organised is the Academic Job Fair. This event is organised only by students from ESN-EYE and other four student organisations focusing on students and their familiarisation with companies. The companies come from fields such as IT and management. During AGM Costa Brava 2018, the event got an award for careerSTAR.
Furthermore, the section can be proud of their collaboration with the university. Thanks to the fact that some ESNers work in the Student Assistance Office, they directly help Erasmus students with documents. This ultimately helps to strengthen the relationship between section members and Erasmus students. Also, together with the university’s International Office, they prepare Mobility Week. During this event, mobility is promoted in every possible way. The event includes workshops, appraising with the recruitment process and impact of mobility on people’s lives.
It is hard to believe but apart from the activities mentioned above, ESN-EYE is not behind with other ESN projects. Regarding the ExchangeAbility programme, there are events like Mouth Painting and a Dinner in the Dark in cooperation with ESN UŁ. They also arrange a Charity Collection for the Orphanage, Shelter Dogs Walking and also took part in ESN Poland’s event “100 for 100” campaign, organising SocialErasmus events for 10 years of SocialErasmus in Poland.
ESN-EYE has had its representation in the National Board and even in the International Board. Current Communication Manager from the IB, Kacper Olczyk, comes from this section. In addition, the members attend many ESN events on the national and international levels such as CEP (Central European Platform), AGM, Eduk8 and National Platforms and workshops. And around 20 members are present in ESN international committees. It is also the first Polish section offering internships for international interns.
To keep members updated and acquaint them more with how ESN works, there are ESNdays prepared, where the role of national and international committees is presented. Every Tuesday there are “Wtorki z Wiki” (“Tuesdays with Wiki”) which are emails with information from ESN Wiki.
All in all, ESN-EYE organises countless events and activities for its members, ESNers and international students. Furthermore, they try to implement activities based on the Causes of ESN and promote them. Every semester they have between 80 and 115 newbies because they put an emphasis on the recruitment process. As you can see ESN-EYE is unstoppable and its members do their best in every aspect of their work.
Written by Lucie Vachova