If society is a damsel in distress, then volunteers are superheroes who are on call 24 hours a day. Why? Because it is rewarding in so many different ways! If you are wondering whether it’s worth the time then keep reading to find some of the benefits volunteering can offer you.
1. We develop new skills.
Through our work as volunteers we develop soft skills such as adaptability and problem solving, as well as hard skills such as proficiency in a foreign language and networking. Both sets of skills boost our employability and make us competitive in the labour market.
2. We travel.
Thanks to our activities, we can travel all across Europe, discover new places and meet new people. As much as travelling is a fun experience in itself, it also allows us to develop a sense of wonder, foster new values, and helps us realise what it truly means to identify yourself as a European citizen.
3. We learn informally.
Volunteering serves as a reflection of who you are―it shows that you have been active during your student years, that you took initiative, and that you performed in high, decision-making positions which helped you foster entrepreneurial and leadership skills. That is enough to set you apart from other candidates.
4. We work on improving ourselves.
Social interaction is a key component of life. Volunteering makes you open your door to strangers who soon become your family. It pushes you out of your shell and motivates you to work on improving yourself. Soon enough, you become a master of social and communication skills, and presenting yourself to new people brings you joy, not sweaty palms.
5. We learn languages.
Volunteering in an international environment does wonders for your language skills. It helps you improve the language you already know, practise speaking a language you have only started learning or get you into learning one you never thought about before. Plus, it looks amazing on your CV!
6. We celebrate differences.
For a continent with as rich a history as Europe, it is important to get a better understanding of other cultures, something we as volunteers have first-hand access to. Understanding leads to respect and respect leads to knowledge. Learning and participating in other people’s traditions, exploring their cuisines and discovering their differences is not only fun, but also rewarding.
7. We make friends.
The amount of people you meet through volunteering is one of its greatest advantages―you make a network so big, making sure you always have someone to turn to. We do not only meet potential employees, we make friends all over Europe which means that as volunteers we can offer you any piece of information you might need.
8. We inspire.
Volunteering can be a stepping stone for you. It is a source of motivation and inspiration—through various volunteering activities you can discover your career path.
9. We help people.
Volunteering is like asking yourself “Would you still do your job, even if you did not get paid for it?” Volunteers are people who are willing to invest their free time into helping others not because they have to do it, but because they want to do it. No matter what you are doing—helping international students find their place in a new surrounding or helping your local community—you matter. And is there a better way to end your day other than hearing a warm thank you?
10. We make a difference.
Interacting with people from other cultures can make you more open-minded, tolerant, and understanding. Volunteering can change your point-of-view, educate you and help you break stereotypes. You find yourself in situations you never thought you would be in, doing things you never thought you would be doing. You acquire knowledge and skills that can become your lifeline. Volunteering opens a whole new window of possibilities and experiences. You stop wanting to become better than other people and you start wanting to outgrow yourself. You become your own superhero.
Do you want to join our squad?
Written by Tajana Mohnacki
On 25th-26th April ESN Lithuania newbies as well as advanced members enjoyed the sunny spring weather while participating in the national trainings called “Survival KIT Vol.3”. It was organized by the ESN KK and HR Committee and held in Kaunas kolegija/University of Applied Sciences.
We are glad to announce that productive and interactive workshop sessions were conducted by even four ESN international guests who shared their knowledge and experience on leadership, motivation, interculturalism, and creativity. We were excited to welcome IB-elect Communication Manager Gaffar Rampage (ESN Communication Committee, ESN The Netherlands) participating in the 2nd ESN Lithuania national event. He was a facilitator who gave a short theoretical presentation on communication, its means, purpose, and types. Having gone through that, ESN members had an opportunity to apply the theory into practice. Thus, the specific skills and knowledge were gained through the interactive activities.
Another facilitator Kenny Ho from ESN Ireland shared his experience of five years volunteering with the advanced level members. We held a discussion about self-development taking into consideration our success and failures, strengths and fears. Also, we tried to figure out how to motivate ourselves and others, how to avoid or solve various problems within the local as well as national levels. In addition to that, another workshop provided by Kenny was about job interviews and filling in CV. He engaged students in some discussions and activities that lead to a better understanding how to succeed in applying for a job.
Other two guests, Magda Jarmołowicz from ESN Poland and Thibault Pean from ESN France, were facilitators for the newbies. They dealt with the relevant issues like motivation, interculturalism, and creativity. Magda went deeper into the ESN as a non-profit association that provides plenty of opportunities and volunteering benefits. Also, members participating in her workshop analysed some situations and tried to find the means for enhancing motivation. Thibault emphasised significance of the topics about people differences and stereotypes of cultures. Engaging in creative activities, students made themselves sure once again that we should not judge a book by its cover. We should pay more attention to people’s characters and personalities and should not form an opinion about them from their sexual, religious, or political orientation.
Having worked a lot, students had fun responsibly at the “Responsible Party”. The members who took part in the trainings received a certificate and gained valuable experience which hopefully will be spread throughout the ESN Lithuania sections. The newbies and advanced members improved their knowledge on different topics and they were greatly empowered to seek for more.
ESN Lithuania sections never remain calm and this time they boom with an enormous event that the organizers described it as ‘The night that you will never forget’. The white T shirt party was organized by 6 ESN Lithuania Sections of Kaunas. On 27th March, one of the biggest night clubs in Kaunas welcomed more than 200 international and Lithuanian students.
This party was not an ordinary party for it had an intended purpose – to raise students’ awareness about drinking responsibly. The stereotype claims that parties and drinking are an essential part of Erasmus life. In fact, a lot of students admitted that during the Erasmus period their habits changed and not always in the best way. How to behave that a night out socializing with people would not get out of control or end in a shameful way? The Responsible Party Squad that joined the event was very happy to share their experience and give some useful tips on how to drink responsibly.
The party itself was symbolized by the white T-shirts. It was a fun way to capture names, wishes and impressions about themselves, exchange phone numbers with dance partners, etc. And even if everyone looked the same in the neon light, the things that remained on the white T-shirts were the best reminders of the big night.
It was the first party this year assisted by the Responsible Party Squad and the idea that they spread attracted more people than they had expected. Many students approached to the Squad members who stood out with their Responsible blue T-shirts and a Responsible Party wall behind them. People were curious to find out more about the project and gladly took pictures with them. Exchange students from all around the world talked about their own habits and discussed what influences them to drink. Some were proud of not drinking at all and some were invited to join fun games that checked up their sobriety.
‘We are not policemen nor your parents to tell you what to do and what not to do. We just want you to take care of yourself and have fun’, - shared some ideas member of the Responsible Squad. ‘Even if students forget to be responsible during parties, the next morning finding an Alco tester in their pocket will surely arouse their curiosity and make them more aware of their sobriety’.
We hope that the students had fun in the party and that not-so-white T-shirts were not the only memory they brought back home.
It’s a wonderful time of the year. Easter holiday comes to our country and welcomes the spring! Playing Easter games and eating traditional dishes brings families together. But not all the people can share their joy and happiness with beloved ones. That’s why sections of ESN Lithuania together with SocialErasmus Coordinator decided to do a good deed and unite international students with the children and elders to celebrate it together. The sections visited children day centers, orphanages and elderly homes and spread the Easter spirit all over the place. They decorated eggs, played traditional games and even prepared musical performances. Let’s have a look what kind of activities some sections had during past two weeks.
On 24th of March ESN KK have celebrated Easter in a very traditional way. They taught international students how to decorate Easter eggs in all kinds of different ways. After that they all together have visited elderly house and shared their countries Easter traditions with elders.
On 25th of March ESN VMU together with international students went to Child Care Center and spent time with children by helping them to prepare for Easter. They played games and decorated Easter eggs as well. After the meeting VMU students shared their impressions - “We spent there unforgettable afternoon and brought Easter joy to the children!”
On 26th of March ESN ISLB team together with international students went to Čižiūnai Orphanage and spent a memorable time with children. Students played games, balloon fight, and football match with their new little friends. The day was summed up with the Easter dinner where they presented musical performance.
On 27th of March ESN KUK with Erasmus students went to a child day care centre. They were introduced with all children’s activities, decorated eggs, played games, learned several Lithuanian words and had an amazing time together.
On 30th of March ESN VGTU organized a visit to one pension in Vilnius, where students learnt old traditions of painting eggs with wax and Easter games, as well. They were really kindly welcomed there by livers of the pension and even given some handmade presents. After the big job while decorating eggs, they had coffee and cake time and SURPRISINGLY, the barrier of language differences didn’t cause any discomfort. We also had the most beautiful egg election and the “Rolling eggs game”, which was really funny.
On 3rd of April ESN LEU members and their exchange students together with ESN MRU Vilnius exchange students spent some time with children at the children’s day center. The children were happy to have visitors from all around the world.
All together international students and local communities built the bridges between different cultures and traditions. The ESN Lithuania team hopes that the warmth sections have shared with children and elders were appreciated and made them happier and that it was unforgettable experiences for international students as well.
Happy Easter everyone!
ESN LT Survival KIT Vol. 3 is coming back! This year it's going to be held in Kauno kolegija/University of Applied Sciences where it was organised for the first time 3 years ago.
ESN LT Survival KIT is a National training event first initiated in 2013 by Human Resources Coordinator Vydūnas Pakrijauskas. The first event was a great success and next year it grew into something bigger - it was lead by international trainers from ESN Eduk8. From 2015 project is managed by HR Committee of ESN Lithuania.
ESN LT Survival KIT aims to gather ESN Lithuania members and especially newbies to improve their knowlegde in different topics and empower them to perform better in their ESN daily tasks. This project also allows to discuss the main problems and challanges that members have in their sections and find the solutions.
All ESN Lithuania this weekend met for the last time before well-deserved summer holidays. Meeting has united 13 HEIs of the country, representatives of Lithuanian NA together with guests from Vilnius Design College applying for the position of a candidate section. For the first time members of the organization were welcomed in Kaunas city municipality what made 20th National Platform even more special.
Program, which has lasted from the morning of 14th to the late Sunday’s afternoon, has involved variety of presentations about present projects of the network as Erasmus in Schools, reports from the past events as AGM Milano 2014, CNR Krakow 2014 and NBM Athens 2014 and various discussions concerning the future of ESN Lithuania. During the time dedicated for Small Sessions, members of the network could develop SocialErasmus strategy, discuss the future of Responsible Party and PureCom as well as deepen their knowledge in the field of the social media and use of Facebook.
NP20 was filled with special moments for the whole Lithuanian network. ESN VDA was officially accepted as 13th section while the status of candidate was voted upon ESN VDK to become already 14th member of ESN Lithuania in the near future. 6th National Board was also elected during the event with 14 candidates present. NB taking over from the 1st of October will consist of:
President – Tomas Tamulevičius, ESN KTU;
National Representative – Indrė Kasiliauskaitė, ESN VGTU;
Communication Manager – Audrė Chudinskaitė, ESN KK;
Project&Events Coordinator – Rasa Jakeliūnaitė, ESN VGTU;
National positions will be taken by Edvinas Jugelionis, ESN Vilnius University as WPA, Agnė Babelytė, ESN VGTU as SocialErasmus Coordinator and Aistė Zentelytė, ESN VGTU as ESN Sea Battle Coordinator for the upcoming term.
ESN Lithuania keeps growing and changing. With growing support of Education Exchanges Support Foundation, new and motivated people in the upcoming Board and many new ideas to accomplish ESN Lithuania has proved once more to be worth recognized as one strong, united and efficient organization.
Every time ESN Lithuania meets in the National Platform it gets bigger and better. This weekend it has gathered more than 80 participants from 13 different higher education institutions. For the first time NP was welcomed by the representative of Kaunas city municipality, who was happy to be back to the organization where he used to belong once. After listening to heartwarming speeches from NB representatives and dear guests from ESN Estonia in the morning of Saturday 18th Spring National Platform was opened.
Day has started with elections of the Chairing Team. This time it consisted of two long lasting experience having ESNers – Vydūnas Pakrijauskas, former Human Resources Coordinator of ESN Lithuania and member of ESN VGTU, and Modesta Džiaugytė, former president of ESN KK section. This strong duo has definitely ensured an international quality while successfully leading the entire event. Later on 6 sections of the network have presented their goals achieved during the recent half of the year. Ideas realized and upcoming projects were a great proof that ESN Lithuania keeps developing. Afterwards participants were invited to listen to the Communication Manager Sandra Baltkojytė, who has presented an idea to further develop the idea of the establishment of Pure Committee, which would invite to join all interested in communication or public relations. President of ESN VU Darija Kupstaitė suggested sharing opinions about the future of ESNers contract, which is being developed to better establish the position and the status of the member of ESN Lithuania. After the lunch NP was invited to participate in one of 4 organized workshops. Participants could choose between Scanbalt Experience WG (Kristofer, Scanbalt Experience) CLR or who needs to know all about ESN International in the Section (Simona Patašiūtė, NR of Lithuania), How Big is THAT (Simas Ivanauskas, Partnership Coordinator of ESN Lithuania) and Lobbing for ESN (Jaanika Saarmets, Henri Vennikas – president and treasurer of ESN Estonia). Second half of the day was dedicated for the reports of NB members for their recent half of the year and presentation about ESN Alumni and their development. Moreover, new ideas were presented as “Photo Rally within Lithuania” idea. Updates about upcoming projects as ABROADIN.EU and STORY were given. Day one was closed by the updates on the recently established positions of free listeners, who are allowed to attend NPs as guests with no rights for voting, and situation with Lithuanian NA, who recently has reached the new level of partnership since the project Erasmus in Schools were totally transferred to ESN Lithuania’s supervision.
New day, new challenges! Agenda, approved in the morning, suggested that this time NP will not be over until lunch as it used to be one year ago. This time it has lasted until 6pm. Rest of the sections were invited to present their achievements, which were no less surprising as the previous sections’ ones. Day was continued by the presentation about AGM and Lithuanian participants present there. This time Lithuanian delegation will consist of even 17 people!
After the lunch 5 workshops were organized: Image ABC (Akvilė Pušinskaitė, ESN ŠU), Goal Setting (Mariin Karp, ESN Estonia), ESN – Way to Success (Julius Zaburas, ESN Alumni), Preparations for AGM (Simona Patašiūtė, ESN LT NR) and Communicators Communicate (Sandra Baltkojytė, ESN LT Communication Manager). 1 hour long lasting conversations about the future of ESN LT and how to seize the opportunities ESN has to offer for you benefited to the motivation and knowledge of every single participant.At the second half of the day guests from ESN Estonia finally had a change to present their activities and structure. 4 NB members and 1 section representative allowed get a proper impression how are the activities in Lithuania’s Baltic neighbor organized. While the guests were already preparing to leave, stage was occupied by Communication Manager and her report for the last 6 months of activities, which was followed by the report of HRC Tomas Tamulevičius, Project&Coordinator Sandra Rimavičiūtė, who at the time was present in ESNSurvey meeting in Brussels, and Ona Bumbulytė, ESN LT SE Coordinator.
Few more discussions were held at the end of the day about the Erasmus+ possibilities, future of Partnership Coordinator’s position and International events of ESN. Event was closed by the NB representatives awarding the Secretariat, the CT and the amazing OC. This time National Platform only for the 3rd time in the history was organized in Kaunas city and for the first time by the cooperation of two sections – ESN KK and ESN VMU. Great job was done to ensure the quality of the event, starting from the impressive auditorium, capable to contain even 725 people, ending up with the cozy evening part, where everyone had a great opportunity to get better to know each other and even be evaluated by the colleagues for the results achieved.
One day after the NP there are so many positive feedback that it makes us all to believe that ESN Lithuania, which has now accepted already it’s 12th member – ESN LEU – is one big and the most important family, who is united again.
Usually it takes a long time to get there. Once you do that, there is never enough: of ESN, of people you meet and spirit you feel. Official description tells you that it is the main decision-making body of ESN International. Well, it is. And it is much more at the same time: future cooperations, knowledge transfer, gathering information, sharing experiences, developing ideas, creating personal long-lasting relations, simply having fun and believing in ideas of the network.
The idea of AGM is to gather together around 600 current and former members of ESN from international, national and local levels. 36 countries – numbers only prove how broad our organization is. And while wearing different colors and realizing slightly different projects we manage to keep unity in diversity.
ESN Lithuania also was a part of it – 12 delegates representing 9 sections of ESN Lithuania together with NB delegates and NR in front of. Great purple cloud took over the city of Maribor for 4 days starting from 11th continuing to 14th of April.
Thursday, 11th of April
While our NR Simona Patašiūtė was catching a breath after intensive and productive pre-CNR delegation of Lithuania was slowly starting to appear from different corners of Europe. The fastest ones were invited to explore Maribor – former European Capital of Culture 2012 during guided sightseeing tours, which invited to share “Brez objemov” or “Free Hugs” with the citizens. Surprised, smiling faces and a bit scared ones from too high dose of Love, but after all – socially aware ESN greeting for the city, which hosted the biggest event of the network.
Opening ceremony of the event was soon to come so after making few more circles in the city time for preparations to meet Mr. President of Slovenia Borut Pahor. After his speech even more greetings followed by ESN AISLB president Emanuel Alfranseder, partnerts of the network and even Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. Ceremony was opened and closed by Slovenian singer performing anthem of ESN SB – “Don’t You Worry Child”.
Afterwards delegations were invited to enjoy traditional Slovenian dinner together with songs and dances followed by Responsible Party where RP ambassadors were taking a great care of ESNers while providing them water and other goods.
Friday, 12th of April
From 7am in the morning participants were invited to enjoy the breakfast and so prepare for the following sessions when procedures of AGM were presented, chairs were elected, agenda approved and presentations of the candidates for 2013-2014 IB were heard.
Later the action was moved to the Technical Faculties, where local Slovenian people together with the members of ESN were invited to participate in the Uni-market which has lasted for 3 hours and has invited to get to know more than 300 universities across entire Europe.
After the market was finished ESNers were invited to attend the variety of workshops starting with the diplomacy lessons taught by Slovenian Foreign Affairs Minister ending up with project management and team building. Impressions and lessons which were learnt were shared during the National Platforms, which invited to talk about candidates for the IB, about AGM itself and to prepare for the loud and colorful flag-parade.
Parade which took for more than few hours and was captured by various media representatives ended up in Festival Hall Lent where the Eurodinner took place. Crazy night with loud music, various goods from different countries of the world leaded to the one of the most important days of AGM.
Saturday, 13th of April
The 3rd day of AGM invited to the sessions where the most important decisions were made. OCs for the future international events were elected:
• AGM Milano 2014; • CEP Košice 2014; • CND Lodz 2014.
Later on budgets were discussed and presentation about the work done by IB 2012-2013 was given. As well as standing orders were changed with the biggest innovation – bringing the chairing team to the CNR meetings, which from now one will be made of CNR Administrator, Secretary and Technical Assistant.
44Changes for the Visual Identity Manual were also introduced with a suggestion to allow the use of ESN logo in full solid ESN Colors, including ESN Pink/Cyan/Orange/Green/Dark Blue. The next day proposal was approved by AGM, so from now on we have even more colorful and flexible visual identity of the network!
AGM was continued by presentation of the Board Action Plan for 2013 – 2014 with concrete actions how to improve the structure, budget, work of secretariat and strengthen up ESN Brand. Promotion of the mobility, concentration on the projects as ESNSurvey, PRIME, Erasmus Impact Study will remain. Will be working on strengthening up the Eduk8, Alumni network, working with facilitation of international jobs, traineeships and volunteer opportunities for ESN members.
During the rest of the day international ESN projects were presented: ESNWiki, Responsible Party, where ESN Lithuania takes the first place by the number of RP parties organized! Time for the session was coming to an end so lots of discussion points were delayed to the coming day.
UV Youngle Party followed afterwards, where with the help with OC, IB and NewYorker everyone was dressed the same – T-shirts of ESN, which later on were covered by the layers of ultraviolet sensitive paints.
Sunday, 14th of April
New day, new challenges and huge amounts of information! Projects as ESN Satellite was presented with having a first look to the new version of it and promise for it soon to come. ESN Survey was analyzed, recent results of Eduk8 were presented continuing with the presentation with the rest of projects as Erasmus in Schools as a Flagship Project for this year, Social Erasmus as the latter Flagship Project of ESN, Section Quality Development, Section Cooperation, ESN Galaxy, ESN Card, Ride for Your Rights, ExchangeAbility presentations.
Reports of CNR, CND, Committees, Liaison Office and Network itself followed together with presentation of commercial, institutional partners.
Alumni were also invited to the stage to present their new work done during the recent year, attempts to gather all national Alumni coordinators to one place and to share their knowledge and possibilities between each other. More information about Alumni network might be found HERE. Also traditional Alumni grant was given. This time it was ESN Rijeka which was awarded by 500eu for the innovative trainings for ESN members of their section.
Also that day IB for the next cadency was elected:
• President – Stefan Jahnke;
• Vice-president – Dominique Montagnese;
• Treasurer – Jonathan Jelves;
• Communication Manager – Robert Klimacki;
• Web Project Administrator – Salih Odabasi.
After the reports of the auditors and vote of AGM event was officially closed. Only Gala-prom was waiting for the participants.
Gala this year was different. The idea was to have a prom date like in the times of finishing high school. That was the reason why everyone that night came by two. High heels and ties, dresses and suits – that night we’ve proved how different we can be – from dirty t-shirts to fancy look, from crazy parties to Social Erasmus. That’s what ESN is about.
15th of April
Then the sun started to appear in the morning of 15th AGM came to an end. Lots of goodbyes were told during the breakfast, many free hugs made to each other hoping to see each other again. Once more hundreds of people from different parts of Europe spread apart to work for the same ideas and values only through different projects and venues. Work for the local, national and international community. Spread responsible and socially aware ideas.
Every time we meet, something changes. In statutes, standing orders, VMI, but the wish to ESN your life always remains.
Last weekend, on the 6th of April National training of ESN Lithuania was held in Kaunas Univeristy of Applied Sciences with the help of ESN KK - ESN Lithuania section which voluntarily organized the event with the support of their international office.
One of ESN visions is to provide quality training for all ESN members. This time ESN Lithuania tried to fulfill that by organizing one day event. From early Saturday current president of JCI (Junior Chamber International) Kaunas and coaching trainer Patrikas Pilybas started their workshop for cooperation strengthening and teamwork. Justina Pluktaitė from VGTU (Vilnius Gediminas technical university) International Office provided all ESN members with ideas howto recruit new members for the network, develop new ways how to contribute better for them, how to integrate into ESN activities incoming and outgoing Lithuanian students. Representatives of ESN LT Alumni were telling about the history of ESN LT and later organized a game which managed to reveal different capabilities of participators. At the end of the day two workshops were held by ESN Athens past section president Stefanos Antypas – ESN Job or Fun. Tomas Tamulevičius has shared his Eduk8 experience during the workshop for Communication and Teamwork.
Even the official part of the event took only one day but therefore an additional program was organized – attendants of training were invited to visit the Museum of War, located in the very heart of Kaunas.
Later on reviews about the event have appeared. For example Stefanos Antypas was telling us that „after two and a half months spent in Lithuania, and after I’ve already proved everyone that I am a crazy Greek who under no circumstances cannot be taken seriously, the kindness of ESN Lithuania shows no boundaries, since they invite me for a second time to attend one more of their national meetings. The first one was nothing else than their National Platform and the second one was the ESN LT Survival Kit.
I arrived at Kauno Kolegija at 14:00 o’clock. Even though the training was going on from early morning, instead of finding a group of tired, hungry people, I was welcomed by smiling ESNrs who couldn’t wait to see the next presentation/workshop. My Lithuanian is not good, so I couldn’t understand what most of the presentations were about, but I could easily understand faces full of excitement, and laughs and jokes they were making all the time. So if this event was organized in order to strengthen the bonding between ESN sections in Lithuania, I think it got a ten out of ten.
Also I was happy to have participants in my workshop “ESN Job or Fun?, who with their motivated attitude and their fresh ideas managed to create four unique events in less than forty five minutes.
All the event was abound in positiveness and excitement. I am grateful that I got the chance to participate in this training and I am looking forward for the next ESN Lithuania event. I believe that they have a bright future in front of them. But then again, what does a crazy Greek know“.
ESN Lithuania wants to thank Modesta, Audre, all the ESN KK and Kaunas Univeristy of Applied Sciences International Office, Tomas and for others who helped to organize this event! Your effort and will always remain in the hearts of ESNers.