If your country is not treating you with a decent amount of sunshine, take a seat, relax and enjoy this two-page August ride to the cloudless and summery Portugal where the glistening section of ESN Minho resides! Can you feel the summer breeze?

Based in two cities – Braga and Guimarães, ESN Minho began their journey in 2012 and seems like they had everything set in stone from the very beginning. The first year they started the “construction” of the section, which involved gathering the primary partners, organising the first activities and starting to participate in the network with 140 active members and successfully transitioned to the 2nd year of their existence where they focused on consolidating the team and its structure. The last and the most current stage of their ascension concluded in hosting SWEP Minho 2014, organising their first Youth in Action project and being titled STARlight - Best Section of the Erasmus Student Network in AGM Ankara 2015. Looks like that they are on a roller coaster of success!

With great work comes great responsibility and ESN Minho has a lot of it working and managing the section in two cities. To ensure fortunate implementation of their projects and ideas apart from the regular team meetings, ESN Minho organises Assemblies where they involve the Alumni to play as advisors. With a highly developed Human Resources department ESN Minho invests a lot in the developing and evaluating the potential of their members. Organising Insight weekends, Team Days and knowledge transfers between the members is what makes the section come up with the best ideas for the integration of International students in Portugal.

And if you happen to choose your exchange in Braga or Guimaraes rest assured that ESN Minho will involve you in a great deal of cultural and social activities. Apart from day trips to cultural and historical sites of Portugal and even the neighbouring Spain, ESN Minho also arranges tournaments in order to promote fitness and health with futsal tournaments, surfing classes, and even dance classes like salsa and Zumba! In addition, the activities of ESN Minho are largely recognised between the local communities and resulted in the realisation of 6 SocialErasmus Week activities in both cities whereas the cooperation with European Store was very relevant during “Braga, European Youth Capital“ where ESN Minho was responsible for the welcome and support of all the volunteers that came to be a part of the event.

ESN Minho's contribution to international projects of the network is beyond questionable: having four ErasmusIntern students, two for each of the university poles, promoting mobility opportunities through flag parades and Erasmus 2.0 activities under the name of MovinEurope is what makes local students closer to the international experience and encourages them to take the next step forward. Investment in the team and personal development of each member hugely paid off for ESN Minho as they have a member in the National Board, 2 project coordinators on the international level and members currently working in NEC and ICE. Moreover, ESN Minho is one of the few sections in the network that has a successful implementation of the EVS programme and the only one that has certification in sending, hosting and receiving volunteers.

The secret behind this success?

“What guides us is thinking in ESN as a school where you can develop yourself as a person who lives in a society that needs people with heart. Our section volunteers put sweat and love in everything they make, that's the recipe to all the success that we have in our Erasmus community. We don't use the word quit, we make the things happen the best we can, always concerned with engaging everybody.” 

For now we can only wonder what else we can all expect from this tremendously hardworking Portuguese gem of ESN Minho.

by Karolis Kriuka