The summer has officially left a mark on our calendars, so it only makes sense to introduce you to one of the warmest and friendliest European destinations. Please give a big, sweaty applause to our Section in the Spotlight of July: ESN Lisboa!

ESN Lisboa was founded in 2008 by nine former Erasmus students, and the section grew fast thanks to the big amount of Portuguese students coming back home from their stay abroad with a wish to join their local section. There are around 5,000 exchange students coming to Lisboa every year, which demands for good organisation and job division inside of the section in order for members to handle the workload. There are three members of ESN Lisboa in the National Board, five members on the Portuguese Communication and Network Committee, six members in the ESN Communication Committee, and four members involved in the Eduk8 project. Woah, ESN Lisboa keeps producing some high quality, ambitious members!

In total there are 195 people who help sustain ESN Lisboa - from active members to interns and alumni. The section is divided into eight departments, and each of them has an individual coordinator. The Network and Strategy department is their flagship project, created to improve the exchange experience and relationships between the sections. They believe that this department has the potential to become an international project.

There are also three committees - Education, Treasury, and Secretariat - that work separately from the departments. The Local Board, which consists of six members, keeps everything under control to ensure smooth and effecient work, yet they do not have the full decision making power. The Coordinators' Council, composed of all department coordinators and board members is an intermediate body of decision which is active in making non-urgent and strategic decisions of the section.

ESN Lisboa invests time and financial resources into their internal events, as they consider them essential in order to bring new and old members together in order to do quality work.

“ESN Lisboa members become motivated to acquire new skills and competences through non-formal education in these internal events. We strongly believe our internal trainings are valuable to the network, since we have received some guests from other Portuguese sections interested in learning from us.”

The Human Resources department organises Teambuilding Weekends at the beginning of each semester, a Training Day for knowledge transfer from old to new members, an Upgrade Weekend intended for relfection, and an Insight Weekend for knowledge transfer between the successors of old coordinators and board members. They also organise Reflection Groups, sessions for when members feel the necessity to reflect on specific topics. Lastly, they organise their own ESN Awards in various categories for further motivation.

In order to welcome new students the best way possible, they organise Welcome Weeks that consist of four weeks full of activities aiming to introduce students to the city and to integrate them into the local culture. They do at least one trip per month in order to show international students all cultural landmarks of the country, while the close proximity to the sea allows them to organise nautical events like Surf Days.

ESN Lisboa is also very active in the SocialErasmus field - this year, they have won an ESAA fund for their SocialErasmus activity “New Friends, Old Memories” which aims to fight loneliness in the elderly community and exchange knowledge between different cultures and ages. Twice a month they help prepare and distribute warm meals to the homeless, and pay a visit to the local kennel to help the volunteers take care of the abandoned dogs. They are also big advocates of the Erasmus in Schools activity!

Apart from SocialErasmus, ESN Lisboa is very successful in implementing other international projects of ESN as well. They try to organise one Responsible Party per year, and they’re taking their first steps when it comes to Mov’in Europe. They use the ErasmusIntern platform to search for interns for their intership programmes, and they are big fans of Eduk8.

This year they have won four different STARawards at Annual General Meeting in Warsaw: STARlight, ESNcardSTAR, CampaignSTAR and WebSTAR.

ESN Lisboa is one busy, busy section. They had so much success in a very short period of time, but they have also worked very hard for it. Being responsible for so many international students each year cannot be an easy task, but they have developed an amazing internal structure to divide the workload. It seems that ESN Lisboa is on a path of success, and they are not stopping!

written by Tajana Mohnacki