Tuesday, 3 December, 2019 - 13:47

Shaping the future of young people through Erasmus - ESN section in the spotlight November 2019

It is every ESN section’s daily task to introduce students to the wonders of exchange, as well as to let them know that ESN is there to help. In order to do so, we have to make ESN visible, and ESN VSB - TU Ostrava knows how!

The story of ESN VSB - TU Ostrava begins in 2010 when their former President came back from Erasmus. By cherishing the ESN values and gathering a hardworking team, the section soon became a very active and motivated member of our network. It shows by a number of important events they have organised, such as CEP 2014, ESN Summer Camp 2016, the national round of the International Erasmus Games 2019, and they can proudly say they achieved a record in jumping on trampolines for the occasion of the 25 years of the Erasmus programme and prepared numerous events for the celebration of the 30 years of the Erasmus programme.

The section’s board consists of 7 members, but in the section, there is no place for strict hierarchy, because, most importantly, they have a good connection with each other, and this is one of the reasons they manage to do their work efficiently and with pleasure. Team-building activities are always on the monthly agenda, or at least informal weekly hangouts. “We always have an informal part of our meetings, because we are a team - but we are also good friends,'' they explain. Is there a better way to work than with your friends?

Education is a must - culture and environment

For ESN VSB - TU Ostrava, education and cultural exchange are a couple of the top priorities. That’s why their flagship event is FILLUP (Free International Language Lesson Unity Programme). The main goal of FILLUP is to bring people together, reduce prejudice and promote having a friendly attitude by sharing their culture and language with each other. This includes cultural gatherings, where almost every week, students from a certain country present their country, culture, traditions and cuisine, so a lot of tongue twisters, quizzes, and traditional dance lessons can be expected!

Speaking of tongue twisters, another part of this project is CatchUp, language lessons taught by volunteer international students, for other international students. They teach their mother tongue, prepare the classes and lead the lessons. Students can also practice foreign languages through language exchange. 

And the best part is, locals also enjoy it, as 10% of the last gathering of this kind were locals!

Not to keep it just about language, they also take care that the students get to know the city of their stay. So they organise excursions to factories, companies, research centres and museums near the city. Furthermore, to make them conscious about the beautiful nature they have a chance to enjoy, the section cooperates with a local organisation called Trash Hero, with which they clean up nearby forests, with occasional recycling lessons also being part of their agenda.

How do they show off their great work?

We are aware that those activities are amazing, educational, and a great way to make the most out of Erasmus, as well as ESN. But, how to spread the word? ESN VSB - TU Ostrava has a way.

As our Network went through an important change this summer - the change of our visual identity and logo, they decided to be one of those who would do it with a bang and show everyone that something major had happened!

“We wanted to be seen at our university, wanted everyone to know about ESN, about us.” So what they did was painted a big ESN star in front of their office building next to students’ dormitories. For those who didn’t get the message at first, they designed posters and rollups for both Czech and English speakers, created buttons, stickers, flags with our new logo, made T-shirts for their members to be easily spotted and remembered, and introduced lots of merchandise for the students: from wooden spoons, raincoats, and other small things that foreign students love. 

“At the moment, everyone entering our dormitories will pass by the star, see our posters. The whole aim of our organisation is to create an international environment in Ostrava, help the incoming students and be the reason why they will never forget the time they have spent here, and even maybe changing someone's life by showing that there are many more ways  to spend one’s free time, to leave a mark in a local community and to understand other cultures.” And sometimes just appearing at the right place and right time, or drawing a big star in front of everyone’s eyes, is the thing we need to pursue our goals.

As if that wasn't enough, they planned an event called ESN Meetup, where they will introduce ESN to the students that showed interest, and explain the work, what they are doing, and why it will be awesome for them to join. Talk about recruitment strategy!

Wearing the ESN star on their sleeves

They are definitely working hard to gain visibility among local students and the work pays off. The merchandise they create is very popular and makes them look cool around town, and at the same time attracts attention -  there is our chance to try to implement our values and causes, and always be the ones who will gladly answer all of the questions from locals and international students. 

“The student exchange programme will have a huge impact on their lives and their future, we are trying our best to shape it following the values of ESN and the values of active citizenship.”

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Erasmus, Culture, Volunteering
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