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
Our network consists of sections and volunteers who work hard to provide an amazing time for their exchange students, but every now and then, one takes the spotlight with their outstanding work. This time, the section that shines the most is ESN Porto!
ESN Porto is the oldest section in Portugal and was founded in 1991. Throughout its long history, the section has organised numerous national and international events. It all started in 1995 with the organisation of an AGM - this also happened to be the year in which the President of ESN AISBL was from the University of Porto. In more recent times, ESN Porto is proud to have organised a Council of National Representatives (CNR) in 2009, another CNR in 2014 and the International Erasmus Games in 2016. Last year they had the opportunity to organise the Portuguese National Platform of March 2018 and, last but not least, SWEP Porto 2018, an event that received great feedback regarding the OC, logistics, and Social Programme.
Considering the number of ESN events held by the section, one would assume that ESN Porto is a large team, but in fact, they currently have only 45 members. The board consists of five members - President, VP, Treasurer, LR and Events Manager. Also, there are coordinators for HR, Communication, Projects, Partnerships, Activities, and Parties departments. Each department has a board supervisor. They also have 2 support positions - Education Officer and Secretary, and two working webzine groups - ESN Porto Green and IT Taskforce.
All members are encouraged to participate in national and international events, which is supported by the board and results in a large number of volunteers going all around Europe to receive training and connect with the rest of the network.
“Motivating the members to experience the national and international level is something we really put a lot of effort into”, says Eduardo Ribeiro, the Local Representative, and it really shows. ESN Porto members went to all the national and a number of international events, including the NEC Winter Meeting and the Eduk8 Autumn training in Vienna.
Such active participation in events motivates the members to take part in the work of ESN on the national and international levels too. As far as the national level goes, this year one of ESN Porto’s members is in the National Board as the VP, and they also have a member in the Audit team, an Education Officer for Community Development and a member of the National ComCom. On the International level, ESN Porto has three members in NEC and one in ITcom.
ESN Porto is a dream come true not only for ESNers but for exchange students too! Every weekend, ESN Porto organises a trip, usually in Portugal but also to Spain. On top of that, at least one cultural activity is held every week, while Wednesdays and weekends are reserved for parties. Each semester starts with a bang, as in 2016 ESN Porto decided to upgrade their welcome period game and turn Welcome Week into a Welcome Month, with events organised almost every day for the whole month! No wonder ESN Porto students are #ErasmusAddicted - the section’s motto that was created in 2011 and which features on the section’s t-shirts which say “Erasmus Addicted/Please send me back to Porto”.
ESN Porto takes care that the Erasmus experience isn’t only about partying and travelling, but also investing in the future - the section collaborates with universities and companies in the field of education and promotes employability events, thus providing a good opportunity for their Erasmus students to find a job and stay in Portugal.
There is no lack of socially sensitive events either, as ESN Porto regularly cooperates with various associations and provides Erasmus students with all kinds of opportunities to make the world a little better. Spending time with the elderly at the daycare centre; helping the homeless by distributing food once per week; volunteering with children with cancer or drug addicts - the choice is up to you.
As you can see, in ESN Porto, everyone can find their own perfect event. However, the event that proved to be the most popular and is their flagship event, the “Portuguese night”! During this night, students spend time in a house decorated with symbols and figures of Portugal, while trying all the Portuguese dishes and enjoying musical and other performances. This event won the Portuguese StarAwards (Lobos d’ouro) as the best event of the year, and other sections aim to organise it as well in the future.
With such a huge range of activities, you may wonder how the members keep themselves motivated.
The answer is: with lots of team-building, learning about ESN together, creating bonds with the newbies, and trainings! Their own ESN Porto Academy happens every week and serves to polish their members’ skills in event planning, communication, and their ESN knowledge.
Does ESN Porto sound like a great team to you? There are a couple of ways to join them! Apart from becoming a regular member, you can join as an Erasmus intern or an EVS volunteer. So far, ESN Porto has received three Erasmus interns (office administrator, photographer and videographer), and has also been accredited as a coordinating, sending, and receiving EVS organization, which means it is able to send and take in volunteers funded by the Erasmus+ programme for a certain period of time.
If all of this hasn’t convinced you that ESN Porto is a team of hard workers, take a look at some numbers: each year, they work with 15 universities and 30 local partners for 3500 Erasmus students, organise 2 Welcome Months, 80 activities, 25 trips, 38 parties, 20 international projects activities, sell 3000 ESNcards, have 2 recruitment periods, 12 teambuilding activities, 2 weekend retreats, and 15 trainings.
It is very easy to say that each ESN Porto member is #ErasmusAddicted.