During this summer heat, which arrived earlier than usual this year, let’s travel to the cold of the North where diversity truly means unity. Here comes our Section in the Spotlight for June - ESN Lund!
ESN Lund was established in 2005. Since then, they have achieved many successes, such as contracts with Akademiska Föreningen (Academic Association in Lund) and travel agency Timetravels. In addition, theirs was the first section where the position of a local Education Officer was established.
The section is led by six Board members and eighteen ambassadors, including ambassadors for trips, parties, sports, SocialErasmus coordinators, ExchangeAbility coordinators, PR managers, Media managers, Partnership managers and Education officers. Furthermore, there is an Activity Committee composed of enthusiastic members who help during the events organised by the section. They cooperate with other student organisations in Lund and share resources to organise events, as well as keep good relationships with Lund University.
If you want to become a member of this great Swedish section, you can join in their “fika”, an event which takes place every semester where potential members can get information about ESN and specifically about activities held by ESN Lund. One of the specialities of the section lies in its internationality. Out of 24 members, only one is Swedish.
Regarding events they organise, they have established a strong position among other organisations in Lund. For instance, they have a cottage weekend for members to get to know each other and create long lasting bonds through some challenges and games. Also, member meetings are followed by social events like board games, movie watching or informal socialising in a pub. To reward council members, they organise events such as potluck dinner or bowling night.
On the other hand, they never forget about their international students and devote most of their time organising activities for them to make sure their stay in Lund will become an unforgettable experience. There are, for instance, canoe and hiking trips, Skane highlight trip, Helsingor day trip or cottage weekend prepared.
Members of the section also spread their knowledge of social issues through events within the scope of SocialErasmus and ExchangeAbility activities. Regarding SocialErasmus, there are events like Clothing Drive, LGBTQ awareness events or Earth Hour celebrations.
Once per semester, they organise "Internationen" - a dinner where non-students (mainly refugees) have a chance to familiarise themselves with Swedish student lifestyle. In order to raise awareness of the issues in the scope of ExchangeAbility project, they organise a 'blind' Valentine dinner in collaboration with the Lund University. They are also working on mapping the university to make it more accessible for students with disabilities. In addition, sports fans can enjoy wall-climbing, a running club or different sports tournaments. ESN Lund cares about the well-being of international students and provides them with stress relief workshops.
Flagship activity of the section is ESN Tuesdays. This weekly event consists of activities starting from the running club, sauna or yoga classes to movie and board game nights. Open mic nights are extremely popular and unite talents from all over the world.
You can meet ESN Lund members on many national events, especially their National Platforms. They regularly attend Eduk8 events, AGM, and other international events. Thanks to section cooperation between nearby sections such as ESN Malmö, ESN Copenhagen, ESN Odense etc. they organise Cooper8 - one of their training events.
“Collaboration is the key.”
Despite the strong competition, ESN Lund maintains a powerful position among student associations and provides high quality and unique events for international and local students. There are definitely some points we can learn from them.
With summer rapidly approaching, it’s only natural we move towards the warmer parts of Europe. However, the section in question isn’t only in our sights because it’s in Spain, but because it’s the oldest section in the country! Meet our Section in the Spotlight for May: ESN UCM Madrid.
ESN UCM Madrid was founded in 1991, which makes them the section ESN Spain built its foundations on. They are constantly growing and improving, as well as adjusting their structure according to the needs of their ever-changing environment.
Currently, they work in teams. They have 12 teams - Tandem, Salsa, Cultural, ComCom, Legal, Partners, Tutor, Merchandising, Sports, Projects, IT and Parties. Each team has a Head, chosen by the team itself, who is responsible for creating the Action Plan and ensuring that the team meets its goals and objectives. They also have local coordinators of international projects such as Mov’in Europe, SocialErasmus and ExchangeAbility who cooperate with local coordinators of the other five other sections in the city.
Nowadays, they have more than 40 active members!
“The sense of belonging that unites us provides material for great teamwork.”
All of their members can receive proper education and training at Local and Regional Platforms. Local Platforms are crucial for the understanding of local, national and international level for newer members, while Regional Platforms are organised in cooperation with other sections from Madrid. Team building activities are also a regular occurrence in their section! All of this is possible thanks to the funds they receive from ESNcards, as well as local, regional and national grants and partners. This year, they have sold 2000 ESNcards!
They organise, on average, around 15 trips per year, and around 5 project activities per month for their international students. When organising these activities, they often cooperate with other sections from Madrid. Monday evenings are reserved for tandems, Tuesdays for sports, Wednesdays for salsa and Thursdays for parties. Additionally, they organise two cultural events per week: a cycle of fine arts and the Royal Palace. Weekends are reserved for the exploration of the Spanish countryside!
“Today we co-exist with 5 other sections in our city and we have achieved harmony and a unique joint force throughout our country.”
ESN UCM Madrid is an eco-friendly section, proven by their flagship project EcoWeekend, a two day trip to the mountains of Madrid. There they spent the weekend learning about environmental issues, having workshops, eating non-processed food, and recycling. The workshops were on the following: removal of rubbish in the mountains; a hiking tour; a soap making workshop; a t-shirt dyeing workshop; and a tour of sense, an ExchangeAbility activity. They have managed to educate and entertain their exchange students, as well as have an impact on the local community.
They are also killing it with their Buddy Programme - this academic year they have managed to pair up more than 1000 exchange students to 270 tutors! The university helps them in their approach to local students by offering them ECTS points for this activity.
Their members are active on both the national and international levels. Several of their members are on the national level, and they regularly host Spanish National Platforms as well as other national events. Their members are in the OC of KINESI, a national training event which will take place this summer.
Being the oldest section in the country, and one of the oldest ones in the whole of Europe, can’t be easy. However, ESN UCM Madrid has mastered this task, and this award proves it!
Spring is already here, and so is our Section in the Spotlight of this month. Ready? Drum roll, please, for a Spanish powerhouse - ESN Barcelona UPF.
ESN Barcelona UPF, otherwise known as UPFamily, was born in 2009 when several curious ex-Erasmus individuals started communicating with their International Relations Offices. Since then, generations of newbies called by different names - ranging from animals of the year, to places connected to the President’s last name - have been contributing to the expansion of the section. This year belongs to the generation of Ballenas!
The section consists of 40 members, including 6 Board members and 5 Committee Chairs - Culture, Sports, Projects, Buddy Programme, and Website and ComCom. Furthermore, over the year, they often create Working Groups in order to deal with specific tasks and support some of the functions of the Local Board. If you are a former Erasmus student, you can apply for membership by filling out a form and participating in a meeting focused on ESN and internal work. Only after that can you help the section to coordinate countless activities.
Other the constant care they provide their exchange students with, they celebrate the international spirit by having dinner in a Chinese restaurant after every meeting. This opportunity is most suitable for newbies because they can become acquainted with experienced members through improvised speed friending. It is obvious they appreciate their members since, twice a year, they organise a training event meant for new members. The main goal of the event is maintaining good relations within their UPFamily.
Speaking of events, they spend most of their time with their exchange students. They hold dozens of events for them, starting with Integration Weekend, which seems to be their number one activity. However, the most intense days are Welcome Days when volunteers work endlessly to help integrate exchange students into their local community. Furthermore, cooking classes are also popular - is there a better way to get to know the region than by tasting it? As well as these, sports activities are popular, too.
They put a lot of effort into activities organised within the frame of international projects of ESN where they collaborate with coordinators from 3 Barcelona universities. They actively work on implementing Erasmus in Schools, while nowadays they are working hard to improve the aforementioned activity in combination with Mov’in Europe aimed at high school students. They also care about the cause of ExchangeAbility and plan to map their university in the near future. They are not behind with grants either. They have received a grant from the Government of Catalonia to organise the pre-AGM CNR Barcelona 2018 and an ESAA grant to organise an educational event.
It is worth mentioning that members of ESN Barcelona UPF are involved in social causes as well. Their current flagship project is a Gender Working Group which wrote a protocol against gender violence in cooperation with Gender Department of UPF University. It is aimed at informing and preventing gender violence within the section which applies to their activities and students.
The involvement of local students is an integral part of the section. By creating a project "Mov'in Your Buddy", they intend to match local students going on exchange with international students coming from their future universities.
“There’s no doubt this year is the year of our members.”
We shouldn’t forget section cooperation; not only do they cooperate with other three universities in Barcelona, they have section cooperation with ESN Unicatt Milano as well. They cooperated on the organisation of SWEP Milano 2018, and very recently on the largest network event, AGM, which took place in Costa Brava.
“All these events can only motivate new members to keep leaving the mark of our section on every level.”
The uniqueness of ESN Barcelona UPF lies in the quality of its members. They have an incredible amount of respect for each other, they like to share the kindness and happiness which makes for a positive impact on the teamwork, as well as on the high-quality experiences of international students. They are creating one UPFamily that can’t be stopped from making changes while still improving the section and themselves.