As the snow melts, and winter slows starts to leave us, we can feel ourselves becoming happier at the prospect of sunshine and spring time, and of course, AGM Milano! However, one section is made particularly happy this month as the winner of Section in the Spotlight April 2014: ESN Nancy. We all know the name due to the current vice-president of the International Board, but now is our chance to get to know more about the section and to learn from their achievement!
In 2003 two local associations, PI-Nancy (International Pub Nancy) and CEE (European Students Group), decided to merge in order to create what is now known as ESN Nancy. Today, the section is composed of approximately 50 volunteers. The secret to the success of ESN Nancy may lie in their volunteers as most of the volunteers have already experienced Erasmus, or are in pursuit of such an experience. The section has a thorough recruiting strategy: they collaborate with the International Relations office of the university to make sure that returning students know that ESN Nancy needs them. Having people who already experienced mobility is a crucial factor and the key to motivate them to relive a similar experience as ESNers.
Historically the section has always been involved on national and international level. On the national level: ESN Nancy is one of the sections which re-created ESN France and members of ESN Nancy are always keen to become National Board Members, which also applies to the international level of ESN. The section organised the 2010 National Platform of ESN France and also became the Organising Committee of the Western European Platform 2013, the second biggest event in the history of ESN France. The number of members who have been National Board members, and ESN Nancy has often had a representative in the International Board of ESN, including this past year.
However, the section is also very focused on its role in helping international students coming to Nancy. They organise several activities, such as the “Apéro des Langues” giving students the opportunity to learn a new language as well as teaching their mother tongue to international and local students willing to practice or improve languages. Another activity, “The Cooking Club”, is a meeting that happens once or twice a month. Three students from the same country will create a menu for other international students. Then, they have to write the list for grocery shopping and are provided an 80 € budget to buy all the things they need. Final step involves splitting the group of international students into three teams, each one lead by one of these three students to cook the food and share the fun!
On the educational level, the section organised an Erasmus In Schools (EiS) activity to raise awareness of Erasmus. The section has done two EiS events this year and will do one more during the AGM. It is a project that they have plans to continue in the future. ESN Nancy also organises a good number of trips: approximately 10 trip a year in some of the main cities or region of France: Metz, Bretagne, Vosges, Lille, Strasbourg, and they sometimes also go outside the country going to Brussels.
The flagship event of the section, however, is something called Gala Erasmus. During one unique evening they involve the international students as the main actors of a huge international dinner. Creating a team of three, students will build their own stand, buying decorations, food and beverages and even wearing costumes to recreate the atmosphere of their country in the stand. During this event 15 countries are represented and promoted. To proceed with the customisation of their stand, students are provided a 100 € budget per stand and have to manage it in any way in which they desire! Each year, the Gala Erasmus gathers approximately 1000 participants (local and other international students) enjoying a unique international atmosphere, with several worlds coexisting in the same place, the true meaning of Erasmus.
ESN Nancy works hard on all levels of ESN, especially on providing incredible opportunities to the international students its welcomes so warmly. The section embodies the true meaning of both Erasmus and ESN and works hard to achieve this. Their kind advice to other sections is to take into account the local environment of the section, especially other student associations, University, Municipality, International Relation Office and other stakeholders. It’s really important to go outside the limits of the section and involve these stakeholders. Now that ESN Nancy has shared some of the key aspects of its success, what’s stopping your section from becoming the next Section in the Spotlight?