On Friday afternoon, everyone is eager to forget all the hard work of the week and to experience the joy of spring. Some of us prefer going out of town, the others are searching for peace in the blossoming parks. However, on the 17th of May all of the 25 benches in
P. Cvirka square had notions saying “WARNING. FRESHLY PAINTED.” next to them. At the beginning, many passers-by were unsatisfied for they had to change their plans and search for another park to sit. After a moment, they saw a group of students, who were painting the benches with smiles and enthusiasm in their faces. Curiosity was unbearable and so people sat on stairs and lawn to observe the process, catching the positive vibes of students and gradually, starting to smile themselves. The bravest and most curious came closer and started asking for more information about the initiative they were witnessing.
Finally, it turned out that the benches were painted by volunteers from Erasmus Student Network Lithuania (ESN Lithuania): there were Lithuanians from Vilnius University, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University with the exchange program Erasmus students from USA, Croatia, Spain and Czech Republic as well as students of International School of Law and Business from India and Belarus. Many were surprised by the fact that students had no sponsors: all the money for benches renovation was gathered by previously mentioned high schools and University of Applied Social Sciences. The members of ESN in these institutions united to attain one goal: to motivate both Lithuanian and Erasmus students to collect white coins and prove that even students, who are just in the process of building their future careers, can be socially responsible. The members of ESN were happy with their job and emphasized, that it may only seem that it was very difficult to gather money for the renovation of 25 benches: a single white coin seems to be meaningless, but when people pool their coins, they unite and are able to make significant changes. The administration of “Vilnius Parks” were also pleased with students’ job and allowed ESN members to pain the logo of the organization on the renovated benches.
After painting all of the benches, students involved in the initiative were joking that P. Cvirka square will become their favourite park and an ‘own’ place in Vilnius.
National SocialErasmus coordinator says huge thanks to exchange students - Chris Stowell (USA), Marina Garić (Croatia), Jeník Janata (Czech Republic), Alejandro Aguilar (Spain), Himanshu Singh Rana (India), Barys Kliuchnikau (Belarus); also for Lithuanians - Kornelija Ramanauskaitė, Renata Citrinavičiūtė, Monika Draučiūnaitė, Justina Prunskaitė, Agnė Babelytė, Dainius Vasiliauskas
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.
Bringing the diversity in schools, sharing personal experience and stories and transferring the entire positive mood to Lithuanian high school students, was one of the aim of international students coming from Russia, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey and Kosovo, who were the next working group of the project “Erasmus in Lithuanian Schools”. “Akademijos Gimnasium in Kedainai region was the next target point of the mentioned project which was already the 10th school visited by very productive, successful and cooperative international students enrolled at Vilnius University. Starting the preparation some days before and ending up with a very fruitful program and agenda made the visit produce very positive results and impressions.
A cold morning of 14th of March brought together 7 foreigners who were ready to share their own culture, language and personal skills with Lithuanian youth who were eagerly waiting to meet new people . Starting the day by singing and asking each other in Lithuanian “Kaip gyveni” (HOW ARE YOU), and responding very positively with “gerai” (GOOD), made the journey be more warm, interesting and exciting. A short welcome speech by the school director Liudas Tauginas and teacher’s staff members, accompanied by a short informative presentation about the school and artistic performance prepared by school students made the international visitors feel more comfortable and relaxed. After a short introduction and meeting, it was the time for splitting in smaller groups and starting a short cultural journey through games, stories, and songs. Divided in three groups (two Russian and one German speaking group), students of “Akademija Gimnasium were able to meet closer and get familiar with the cultural differences and diversity over the world. A friendship that lasted nearly three hours, helped Lithuanian students understand better the value and importance of tolerance, cooperation, diversity which may be better gained through higher university education. After a joint lunch offered by the school, Erasmus students were guided through the Kėdainiai city by being introduced to some of the most important historical buildings, museums etc.
Ending up with a warm goodbye words and expressing the gratitude for the visit, students of Akademija gymnasium got back to their working habit by hoping one day to be part of the greatest international diverse community called ERASMUS.
Report by Eddy Galjusi (Kosovo)
P.S. Song, mentioned in this article might be found on YouTube.
It is already the second semester that ESN Vilnius University organizes a charity of white cents which aim is to collect as many cents as possible and donate them for good purpose. The charitable initiative involves not only Lithuanian students, but also foreign students who willingly donate their coins. With this campaign ESN Vilnius University team wants to show that it is not so difficult to collect money for a charity - every time when a student throws a small coin of 1, 2 or 5 cents in a jar it does not seem much, bet when all students donate it turns into a very important and valuable deed.
During autumn semester when this charity was organized for the first time students donated 130 Litas which was sent to Public institution “OFM MAŽESNIEJI BROLIAI“ of Bernardinai social services centre. On February 13th six students brought gifts to the social centre and spent some time with children. They told some stories about their activity, played games and introduced children with some foreign languages. The most attention received a student from Slovakia and one of Ethiopian languages presented by another student.
ESN Vilnius University always searches for ways how to join different charities. One of the charities is collaboration with social project Pagalbadaiktasis.lt. During this event people gather their items that are not needed anymore: clothes, school supplies, kitchen equipment and etc. and leave them in special boxes that are in dormitories. According to the Pagalbadaiktais.lt manager Marija Šaraitė ESN Vilnius University students proved that even students who do not have much of their own can be socially responsible. Later items that are donated during this charity are given to those who need them most.
VU TSPMI student Kristina Selezniova, who is the national coordinator of SocialErasmus project, is happy that the generous act of ESN Vilnius University social committee has inspired other ESN sections in Lithuania to start organizing this charity. Money that will be gathered during this spring semester will be donated not only to the social centres, but also to the animal shelters and similar organizations.
As every year, on the 2nd and 3rd of March, Vilnius was shaken by Saint Casimir's Fair. Second year in a row students from ERASMUS Student Network (ESN Lithuania) did not stand aside and together with non - profit organization "Mamų Unija" (“Mothers’ Union”) took part in this amazing event by collecting charity from strangers. Volunteers came from ESN VGTU and ESN Vilnius University guided by the slogan "Children with cancer also play". Cold did not scare neither members of the National Board nor members of ESN LT Alumni club. The main aim of the project was to gather as much charity as possible while selling special postcards provided by "Mother’s Union". All donations were given to Santariškių Hospital in Vilnius.
The first day had just started and meant to be very interesting - while going to the city centre it was snowing A LOT, snowstorm was performing its best. After arriving to the destination another challenge was to build a tent - no one of us had ever done such thing, so nobody had enough experience to do it right and after half an hour of trying we came to conclusion that one part was missing. However, it was not true and with the help of other fair's participants we finally did it! Just after preparing everything for the trade the first ERASMUS students showed who started communicating with people and raising the money very willingly. They were grouped by two people - one Lithuanian and one foreigner. All pairs had special "money boxes" and some postcards for presenting. Probably the biggest part of the attention was showed to Julius who screamed loudly using a megaphone two days in a row. But the most important thing was the sun - it warmed the air and also the atmosphere.
This Saint Casimir's Fair was extraordinary, because for the first time the parade was organized -the members of NGOs “Mamų Unija” ("Mothers’ Union") and ESN Lithuania marched through the city centre and encouraged people to pay more attention to the problem of cancer, as many of them just pretend not to understand it and try to avoid even listening to it.
One of the organizers Julius Zaburas (ESN LT Alumni) was very proud, because this year not only students from ESN VGTU participated) in the event (ESN VU joined them): "I am very happy that this charity event is becoming a tradition and is also expanding. I hope that in the future it will be possible to improve even more with Saint Casimir's fair and support children who were really disadvantaged by destiny".
During the event 2 836 Lt ( ~820 euros ) was fundraised. They were all donated to the "Santariškių" hospital in Vilnius.
ESN Lithuania invites to join goodness campaign „Nebūk daiktistas“ (“Don’t be a Thingist”) organized by our friends pagalbadaiktais.lt!
Project encourages you to give away things you do not need any more in change of gratitude of people, who need these things more.
All and each of you who read this are more than welcome to join campaign of sharing and helping each other!
Check your cupboard and think - maybe there are things you don‘t need or don‘t like anymore?
It could be: – clothes – shoes – utensils – stationery – books – toys/board games – many other things.
By participating in the campaign “Nebūk daiktistas” (“Don’t be a Thingist”) you will not only help others with things they need, but also you will help to built a proper image of international students as energetic, creative, mobile, tolerant and socially responsible people. At the same time you will help to increase the visibility of ESN in home institutions and local community.
Campaign will be held from 1st to 16th of March. Soon more information will appear and each participating ESN section will indicate places where things can be left. All the given things will be registered in pagalbadaiktais.lt system. Each participator will be able to see its profile. (e. g.: Profile of ESN Vilnius University, http://www.pagalbadaiktais.lt/dovanotojas/2313)
By pressing on your ESN sections's name below you will get more information about the project:
• ESN Vilnius University • ESN VGTU • ESN ŠU • ESN KK • ESN ISLB • ESN VMU
If you belong to the section which is not mentioned above then you can contact to any other section in the city!
Go social with ESN! Reach highier! Go further! Go social! SE national coordinator: [email protected]
During the NP of ESN Lithuania on 26th February, 2011 new event was held - GO PUBLIC! The idea of this was to encourage sections to share their ideas with each other and let others know more about what they are doing. And now we are proud to announce the winners of the event!
Congratulations go to:
Best event: ESN VU - Wild Dates. The ideas of blind dating and wild dating were connected. Both Erasmus and Lithuanians could participate and show their best. It was fun, it was new, interesting, it was WILD!
Best social event: ESN MRU Vilnius - Erasmus Fundraising. It was initiated by Erasmus students themselves. During the whole term, they collected empty bottles, white cents and in the end of the term used all the received money for buying presents, games, candies and so on for children sick with tuberculosis. When visiting children, Erasmus also presented their countries, so children could learn more about different cultures.
Best new idea: ESN VGTU - ESN MAN. The idea of ESN MAN is to make a plastic man to promote ESN. The artificial man would be situated in several places, which are quite visible to the public, e.g. entrance of university.