The winner of the last Section in the Spotlight of this semester takes us to the south of Europe where the land meets the Atlantic ocean. We will be transferred to one of the nicest European capitals which is famous for the dessert called pastels. Let’s meet the winner of this month - ESN Lisboa.
The section was founded in 2008 by nine former exchange students. Even though there are multiple universities in the city, they decided to found only one section to establish good relations with all universities. ESN Lisboa has been growing quite fast, especially due to a high number of former exchange students. Nowadays there are 60 active members who work in eight section departments (e.g. Sports and Trips, Integration and Cultural Events, Human Resources) and are managed by six board members.
Every semester ESN Lisboa recruits new members. Whoever wants to become a member of the section has to go through an interview with experienced members. After that, potential members help for a month with the section’s agenda and then they are evaluated and promoted to junior members. After 3 more months, the General Assembly votes on the seniority and junior members become full members of the section.
Not only do they have a strong team of current members, but ESN Lisboa also cooperates with section Alumni. The Alumni network provides the section with guidance and support whenever it is needed. To fully integrate Alumni into the section’s work, there is an annual gathering called the History Day organised. Alumni have a chance to tell their stories to the current members and remind them of the history of the section itself.
As it was said earlier, section members are its most valuable asset, therefore, there are many events organised to strengthen their relationships, keep their motivation and teach them more about ESN. For example, the Team Buildings take place every semester and they are targeted especially at newbies. The event is aimed at teaching newbies everything about ESN through a series of workshops with examples of real-life situations and how to deal with them. Last but not least, there is an event called ESN Lisboa Upgrade. This event is also organised for its members and is dedicated to all section positions and their specifications, especially to the transition of new candidates who achieve the important positions within the section.
Apart from internal events, ESN Lisboa organises lots of events for exchange students. Working in a lively city like Lisbon brings many opportunities to integrate international students into the local way of living. It is worth mentioning that members of the section organise the event called Surf Days where international students can learn how to surf. Furthermore, there are trips to other Portuguese cities, hiking trips to national parks nearby, events like indoor climbing and many more sporting activities.
ENS Lisboa also organises parties during each semester. At the beginning of the semester, there is the biggest Mega Welcome Party where more than 1 000 students have fun and meet each other. In addition, the section organises PubCrawls, free live concerts, Quiz and Movie Nights and Pool Parties etc.
In ESN Lisboa members believe that integration is meant to be implemented not only between exchange students but also between exchange and local students. To maintain this they use Papaya Buddy System where there are more than 600 registrations per semester. In order to help international students with their start in the new city, the section members publish the Welcome Book. This almost 100-page guide consists of all information needed for better integration of international students. There are tips for moving abroad, information about the city, accommodation, universities, ESN events, traditions, must-see places and more.
ESN Lisboa also put an emphasis on social issues. They believe that the Erasmus+ programme is a strong tool to bring about change. Thanks to a successful application for an ESAA grant the members were able to help a disadvantaged community in central Lisboa, for example, help a family of a single mother with four children to rebuild their apartment. The section organises many more events aimed at social issues where they help local communities, homeless people, abandoned animals etc.
The principle ‘students helping students’ is taken very seriously in ESN Lisboa. The section with its 10-year-long history has been working ever since to become a place where members can find not only friends but become a family of ESNers who they can always rely on. And thanks to their hard work and tons of events organised every semester, they assure the unforgettable memories and experiences for international and local students.