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?