During the meeting of the Council of National Representatives in Milano taking place from March 31-April 2, 2014, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) accepted ESN Saint Petersburg State Forest Technical University (ESN SFTU) as its first section in the Russian Federation. Today ESN is present in more than 450 sections in 37 countries and involves more than 29,000 young volunteers making it the biggest student organisation in Europe.
In light of the conflict in and about Ukraine, ESN sends a strong signal on how young Europeans contribute to bridging differences and work towards a peaceful and respectful co-existence on our continent. Being a non-ideological and politically independent organisation, ESN strongly believes in intercultural dialogue and youth and student mobility as a main tool to facilitate it. Only by talking to each other can we overcome our conflicts and create understanding for other cultures and views. Only by experiencing other cultures first-hand can we truly grasp what other people experience and develop tolerance and acceptance for their values. ESN, as part of the youth of today, believes that young people have to create the peaceful and tolerant world of today and tomorrow. ESN is convinced that inclusion and integration are the right answer to recent events.
Unity in diversity, diversity in unity, one of the core values of ESN, is more present than ever. The announcement of the acceptance of the first Russian section caused standing ovations of the more than 600 participants at ESN´s Annual General Meeting happening directly after the meeting of the Council of National Representatives. It shows ESN´s will and commitment to further contribute not only to improving the quality and outreach of student mobility programmes but also to helping to solve conflicts through intercultural dialogue.