Paulina Bednarek Thursday, 28 January, 2021 - 19:21
Getting your Encore of the Erasmus Generation
I joined ESN for a simple reason: to do more than studying. It has already been 4 years since that, and if someone had told me from the past what I could do thanks to this student organisation, I would have answered that they were entirely bonkers.
One of the meanings of the word “generation” refers to it as “people who belong to the same age group and create a society, a family”. As such, the Erasmus Generation is formed by young, energetic people who discover the world and develop themselves by experiencing different forms of mobility, who volunteer and make the world a better place. It’s more than a group. Does it sound too overrated?
Family – Friendship – Infinite Possibilities
Have you ever been a mentor to a peer that came to a new city and didn’t know anything about the country and its culture? We meet people from different backgrounds, speak foreign languages, we try to put ourselves in someone else's shoes. Even in small actions you can see the lights of volunteering. Those initiatives follow the purpose of the Erasmus Generation: to form an international community; a community without borders. It’s time to build up lifelong bonds, shall we?
Everything started when the Erasmus+ Programme was born to support youth in education and gain new competences that would enable them to enter the job market in the future. Studying abroad stands for many as an unforgettable experience, and after 34 years of existence of the programme, the interest in it is even greater. But it wouldn’t be complete without the impact of Erasmus Student Network (ESN) - one of the biggest student associations in Europe. All members strive for unity in diversity, diversity in the unity – no matter where we come from, we learn from each other and enhance the rich variety of cultures.
ESN creates tools and services that simplify the process of going abroad for the internationals, such as the Buddy System, which works on a pairing up system, or Erasmus in Schools activities (opportunity for international students to give cultural workshops for children in local schools). It stands for everything we fight for in the modern world: openness, tolerance, inclusion. The network represents the diversified culture and creates possibilities where everyone can benefit from. With that in mind, it becomes clear that a peer-to-peer approach lies at the heart of our work.
Become an Ambassador
Every individual contributes to the common good. It is the voice of youth and the spirit that brings different individuals together. Present in 42 countries and with over 530 sections, ESN opens its doors and waits for new volunteers to become the next ambassadors who share our values and fulfil the motto of Students Helping Students. Do you want to develop new skills, meet new people and use your enthusiasm on a daily basis? Are you an aficionado of travelling, sports, events organisation or languages? ESN needs people like you! The members have the chance to develop their skills in the fields of Public Relations, Human Resources or Fundraising (to name a few). This is the best space for interaction and unleashing your creativity. For instance, on the @erasmus.generation Instagram account, you can already see hundreds of stories, impressions and memories from exchange students, trainees and volunteers that prove mobility has many faces.
More Mobility And No Borders
Taking part in an exchange can be one of the ways to showcase how the impact of internationalisation has grown. But what happens when the ESNers are the actors who spread the idea of youth mobility and its positive changes?
Since the Erasmus Student Network was formed in 1989, volunteering has acquired an added value. People broaden their horizons through international experiences, they learn how to think outside the box.
However, it’s not only about going abroad or making new friends who come from other parts of the world. It’s also about getting acquainted with different cultures and how they work. Thanks to many young ESN ambassadors, internationalisation at home has become a reality. When the pandemic struck, we didn’t step back. #ErasmusAtHome, a series of online network-wide events, was our way to call to action, to become stronger and give an example for making an impact despite difficulties. We have found the light at the end of the dark tunnel. We are all in this together, aren’t we?
At the very beginning, I was just helping Erasmus students coming to my university for their exchange. Taking first responsibilities, being a leader, gaining new organisational skills, learning how other cultures work. Over time, that “just” has started to make me certain that I do have an impact as a European citizen, as a young individual - in my local community, in my country and beyond it. And I'm walking on a wire, trying to go higher.
Erasmus Generation is the key to strengthening international relations. Erasmus Generation is not tangible. It’s a feeling that has the power to connect, expand, change. We are travellers and game-changers. Believe me, you want to be a part of it. Once experienced, it stays with you.
Are you ready to write your own chapter in that story? Go to www.esn.org/sections and find your new international family now!