It was sure worth the wait! Your favourite and highly anticipated column has finally reached the light of a day after a raw and far too long winter! Without any further ado let us all head to the heart of Germany where a shining little Section in the Spotlight of May resides! Having 22 young and active volunteers, with 3 board members, leading the path and dedicating their passion for better integration of international students. Meet ESN Jena!

The inspiring history of ESN Jena begins as many others in the Network: in 1996 students formed a group named “Erasmus Alumni” that wanted to take care of the increasing number of international students in Jena. Couple years later, in 2000 they joined ESN as the 5th section in Germany. Fourteen years under the ESN star gave them a lot of various milestones to look back to.

That being said, all of the milestones from hosting CNR in 2005 to being legally accepted as an association were unimaginable without the great devotion and dedication of ESN Jena members. Interestingly enough, international students are always welcome to join the section and turns out that they quite like doing so without any extra persuasion. ESN Jena already had members from Russia, China and even faraway places like Vietnam. This puts interculturalism to a whole different level! And even though international members find German bureaucracy off-putting when organizing events they still lend their helping hand DJing at the parties, getting involved in many SocialErasmus activities, charity events or even starting to organize promising projects like working with refugees living in Jena.

During the semester ESN Jena is really buckling down so they could have a lot to offer for the exchange students. From traditional Thuringian BBQs throughout the entire year to going on a hike around Jena. The events are often dependent on the interests of section members and international students, so if you will ever find yourself in this lovely German town prepare to have a refreshing swim in the Baltic Sea one day and watch Eurovision Song Contest the next one.

Speaking about large scale events, the flagship project of ESN Jena named “Get-to-know-weekend” involves around 30 participants each time and demands some high level commitment, see for yourselves:

Thus, we offer a very cheap trip to a small village in the middle of the Thuringian Forest. The special thing about that village: you don’t have any internet connection or even mobile signal. So we need to entertain them otherwise. We make energizer, teambuilding games, get-to-know-games, a German quiz but also cook together, go hiking and go snow tubing which is always great.“

For the shining section of May, cooperation is the key and the heart of their rewarding work. Having a good relationship with the student union and International Office provides the section with opportunities to attend regular meetings and discuss the general situation at the university as well as being a part of decision making progress. IO helps a lot financially and together with ESN Jena they promote mobility at fairs and work on improving the internationalism at their university. Working hand in hand with other organizations is a result of belonging to Int.Ro, the Department for Intercultural exchange of the student council. As a member of this organization, ESN Jena shares an intercultural house in the heart of the city. ESN pad in the city centre! Pretty wicked, isn’t it?

Such is a glimpse of the wondrous life of ESN Jena, a section which inspired their exchange students to join ESN or establish sections in Dijon and Timisoara; a section which gave German NB 2 Presidents, one NR, one Project Manager, one Fundraiser and 3 PRs! How did they do it? We will let them say themselves:

And also the key to the interest in the national and international level is simple: we believe in our members! And as we are Always standing united the network can expect more great things from this small little section in the heart of Germany.“

We are convinced. How about you?


by Karolis Kriuka