Our network consists of sections and volunteers who work hard to provide an amazing time for their exchange students, but every now and then, one takes the spotlight with their outstanding work. This time, the section that shines the most is ESN Porto!
ESN Porto is the oldest section in Portugal and was founded in 1991. Throughout its long history, the section has organised numerous national and international events. It all started in 1995 with the organisation of an AGM - this also happened to be the year in which the President of ESN AISBL was from the University of Porto. In more recent times, ESN Porto is proud to have organised a Council of National Representatives (CNR) in 2009, another CNR in 2014 and the International Erasmus Games in 2016. Last year they had the opportunity to organise the Portuguese National Platform of March 2018 and, last but not least, SWEP Porto 2018, an event that received great feedback regarding the OC, logistics, and Social Programme.
Considering the number of ESN events held by the section, one would assume that ESN Porto is a large team, but in fact, they currently have only 45 members. The board consists of five members - President, VP, Treasurer, LR and Events Manager. Also, there are coordinators for HR, Communication, Projects, Partnerships, Activities, and Parties departments. Each department has a board supervisor. They also have 2 support positions - Education Officer and Secretary, and two working webzine groups - ESN Porto Green and IT Taskforce.
All members are encouraged to participate in national and international events, which is supported by the board and results in a large number of volunteers going all around Europe to receive training and connect with the rest of the network.
“Motivating the members to experience the national and international level is something we really put a lot of effort into”, says Eduardo Ribeiro, the Local Representative, and it really shows. ESN Porto members went to all the national and a number of international events, including the NEC Winter Meeting and the Eduk8 Autumn training in Vienna.
Such active participation in events motivates the members to take part in the work of ESN on the national and international levels too. As far as the national level goes, this year one of ESN Porto’s members is in the National Board as the VP, and they also have a member in the Audit team, an Education Officer for Community Development and a member of the National ComCom. On the International level, ESN Porto has three members in NEC and one in ITcom.
ESN Porto is a dream come true not only for ESNers but for exchange students too! Every weekend, ESN Porto organises a trip, usually in Portugal but also to Spain. On top of that, at least one cultural activity is held every week, while Wednesdays and weekends are reserved for parties. Each semester starts with a bang, as in 2016 ESN Porto decided to upgrade their welcome period game and turn Welcome Week into a Welcome Month, with events organised almost every day for the whole month! No wonder ESN Porto students are #ErasmusAddicted - the section’s motto that was created in 2011 and which features on the section’s t-shirts which say “Erasmus Addicted/Please send me back to Porto”.
ESN Porto takes care that the Erasmus experience isn’t only about partying and travelling, but also investing in the future - the section collaborates with universities and companies in the field of education and promotes employability events, thus providing a good opportunity for their Erasmus students to find a job and stay in Portugal.
There is no lack of socially sensitive events either, as ESN Porto regularly cooperates with various associations and provides Erasmus students with all kinds of opportunities to make the world a little better. Spending time with the elderly at the daycare centre; helping the homeless by distributing food once per week; volunteering with children with cancer or drug addicts - the choice is up to you.
As you can see, in ESN Porto, everyone can find their own perfect event. However, the event that proved to be the most popular and is their flagship event, the “Portuguese night”! During this night, students spend time in a house decorated with symbols and figures of Portugal, while trying all the Portuguese dishes and enjoying musical and other performances. This event won the Portuguese StarAwards (Lobos d’ouro) as the best event of the year, and other sections aim to organise it as well in the future.
With such a huge range of activities, you may wonder how the members keep themselves motivated.
The answer is: with lots of team-building, learning about ESN together, creating bonds with the newbies, and trainings! Their own ESN Porto Academy happens every week and serves to polish their members’ skills in event planning, communication, and their ESN knowledge.
Does ESN Porto sound like a great team to you? There are a couple of ways to join them! Apart from becoming a regular member, you can join as an Erasmus intern or an EVS volunteer. So far, ESN Porto has received three Erasmus interns (office administrator, photographer and videographer), and has also been accredited as a coordinating, sending, and receiving EVS organization, which means it is able to send and take in volunteers funded by the Erasmus+ programme for a certain period of time.
If all of this hasn’t convinced you that ESN Porto is a team of hard workers, take a look at some numbers: each year, they work with 15 universities and 30 local partners for 3500 Erasmus students, organise 2 Welcome Months, 80 activities, 25 trips, 38 parties, 20 international projects activities, sell 3000 ESNcards, have 2 recruitment periods, 12 teambuilding activities, 2 weekend retreats, and 15 trainings.
It is very easy to say that each ESN Porto member is #ErasmusAddicted.
Written by Valentina Botica