Written by: 
Sabina Achim Tuesday, 20 March, 2018 - 14:36

Young Leaders Shaping the World of Tomorrow - AGM Costa Brava

There is no growth without change. Meet the candidates that rose to the challenge and ran for the International Board.

During the intense first two days of plenaries, the agenda of AGM itself kept the participants energised. Action plans, reports, candidacies for the International Board. The wind of change came with proposals to improve the Statutes and Standing Orders of the organisation. The Mobility Fair allowed us to dream and discover study opportunities all around Europe.

Let's dream about the future

In 1989, the Erasmus Student Network was founded, only two years after the Erasmus Programme was approved. Over the years it has developed to what it is today: the key volunteer student organisation in international higher education in Europe, providing opportunities for cultural understanding and self-development under the principle of Students Helping Students.

With more than 530 sections active in 40 countries, ESN is the biggest student organisation in Europe. Considering the fast growth of the Network, a review of the structure of the organisation was initiated, in order to be prepared for the foreseeable challenges ahead.

The procedures for the structural change were initiated in 2016. Qualitative consultations were conducted by the established working group. Along the process, to identify strengths in the organisation and to elaborate solutions, ideas and concrete actions for moving forward, we had interviews, group discussions, workshops, small sessions, and surveys inside the Network.

Different proposals of Changes to Statutes and Standing Orders were brought in front of the Network to be voted on, under the name of ESNreview, followed by alternative proposals and amendments, developed by the members. The proposed changes, equipped for the long-term vision, strove towards progress and a more sustainable Network, but also for a new visual identity. They tackled the topics of membership, events, voting, arbitration and audit. 

Raising up to the challenge

To facilitate change, you need strong leaders. The candidates for the International Board 2018-2019 pledged in front of the audience to represent the needs and rights of international students on the local, national and international levels.

“For youth, young people are the source of inspiration. For them, youth organisations are a good training ground, you put a lot of theory into practical work. You get to work with people, you learn how to coordinate and develop emotional intelligence - empathy and emotional intelligence are very important to have in leaders. You have to motivate people, to make them believe in your beliefs.” - Tim Bastiaens, the Treasurer of ESN 2017-2019

The most important resources of ESN are the people. Without people, there would be no Network, no events, no purpose. People are the ones empowering people, inspiring them to actively make a change in the society. The volunteers are the superheroes without capes from behind the scenes.

“Leadership and youth share an important connection, as our future leaders of the world are coming from this generation. Therefore, an understanding of the different forms leadership can take is crucial! Youth organisations are the perfect opportunity to educate our future generations on this matter while creating a basis for self-development. The skills of a good leader lie in an understanding of our personal values, intercultural competences and group dynamics and strengths.” - Pascal Kuta, the candidate for Communication Manager of ESN 2018/19

There is always something to do for the development of our Network. Change is necessary to evolve; it allows us to grow as sections, as individuals and become more professional. Having in mind the best of the organisation, we need to make our voices heard, vote and decide on what we want. Change is not easy, but the future is ours.

“Anything that is about us shouldn't be discussed without us - if the youth is discussed, youth should be involved. We need to nurture leadership in youth organisations because good leaders create new leaders. And good leaders should be assertive, smart in their authority, good listener, and able to incorporate feedback. Focus on yourself, your priorities and organisation should also be a priority” - João Pinto, the President of ESN 2017-2019

We dream of an ESN with strong local and national levels, a strong Alumni Network, an ESN that gives life-changing opportunities for volunteers; one that is inclusive and supports all international students, from within or outside of Europe.

“Through far-reaching and engaging communication we can show people how big of an impact they can make. We are leading the way and setting the example for thousands of young people to become active citizens, engaged volunteers and amazing ESNers.” - Kacper Olczyk, the Communication Manager of ESN 2017-2019

We have the tools, skills and passion; we are empowered through our network to make the voices of youth heard. We become the leaders - today of our organisation, tomorrow of the future.

“It is important to have young leaders in youth organisations because it shows young people that everything is possible, that they have a voice and can make a change. Nurturing leadership in youth organisations is highly important because it teaches empathy, care and the development of clear vision.” - Tijana Stojanović, the Vice-president of ESN 2017-2019

“I truly believe youth is the future of our society. We are the ones who will be living it, so we also need to step up and build it. It is essential for us to take the responsibility and lead the way towards a brighter future! For me, leadership is about showing and supporting passion. It is passion that motivates people the most, it is passion that challenges people to step out of their comfort zone. We just need to find our inner drive and the actions will follow!” - Jeroen van Lent, the Web Project Administrator of ESN 2017-2019

The intense candidacies and the ESNreview sparked emotions, hopes and fears among the participants and people engaged in the process. No matter what decisions will be adopted in the end, we are together, united, one Network always trying to get better and better.

How did ESN change you? And how will you change ESN?

Photos: Leander Seidl, Kasia Pasierbiewicz

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