Saturday, 20 April, 2019 - 16:54

The meeting of the Erasmus generation

AGM Thessaloniki, part one

30 years ago, a handful of students volunteered to help incoming international students in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands. For four whole days, the impact of this event will be felt throughout the city of Thessaloniki. This city in Northern Greece is this year’s host to the Annual General Meeting, AGM for short, of our generations’ volunteers for the Erasmus programme.

For the next couple of days, European volunteers from all around the world will gather to discuss the future of mobility, the future of internationalisation in Europe, and the future of our Network.

“These 4 days, the heart of Erasmus will beat in Thessaloniki.”

Antonis Platis, head of the organisation team

When you gather more than 800 volunteers, coming from 39 countries spread across the whole European Higher Education Area, you can’t expect to be discreet about it. Fortunately, ESNers are not reserved by nature, and that’s why the city of Thessaloniki saw a procession of flags along its street on this rainy Thursday afternoon.

“Where others see borders, we see unity. Where others see a stranger, we see a friend.”

Dimitrios Manolas, opening ceremony speaker

Despite the rain drops, we still flooded the streets of Thessaloniki, proudly wearing the flags of our countries. But  what matters more during this Flag Parade than the individual flags, is the unity which is displayed! When you see the flags of countries made enemies by history displayed proudly next to one another, when you hear the chants of students from all origins covering the rumble of the rain, that is when you get the feeling of Europe. While walking through the streets of Thessaloniki, we truly showcased the impact of the Erasmus Student Network, not only in size, but also in spirit!

Active in building unity in diversity in Europe

“ESN stands for everything that is good about our union. It stands for students helping each other. It stands for unity in diversity, people of different backgrounds working with each other. It helps to shape the future of our union.“ 

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commision, in his video message for ESN

As the evening went on, we were officially welcomed to the AGM in the localities of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the biggest university of the Balkans. Accompanied by a show of lights and music, we all felt inspired by the speeches of the night, which have reminded us of the importance of engaging ourselves as citizens.

"European youth has to be the most active at the upcoming EU elections and show how to be an active European citizen."

Pafsanias Andreas Papageorgiou, Secretary General for Lifelong Learning and Youth

No matter which views you support, involving yourself in a critical, informed manner is the way our generation supports democracy as a whole. Just like our president voiced in his speech:

“Democracy in its earliest form was born in this region. I don't think it's a coincidence that in the time of our 30th anniversary, we are celebrating in the land of democracy.” 

João Pinto, President of Erasmus Student Network AISBL

Let the meeting of the Erasmus generation begin and with it, the hope for many more to come.

 

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