Yesterday, an ethusiastic group of young adults decorated the Hotel Novotel with European colours for a Flag Parade. Members of 38 countries equipped themselves with props, loud voices and, most importantly, good will. Their cheers and excitement to be there, at the most important ESN event of the year, were more massive than the building standing behind them.
The Flag Parade began around 4 PM when we started moving towards the centre of Warsaw, ready to share our ESN spirit with the rest of the city. Walking in no special order, a beautiful arrangement of colours and music and voices ready to be heard, holding two large flags compiled of all of our member countries’ flags indicating our unity, we attracted the attention of the citizens. People cheered for us, came out of their apartments onto their balconies to support us, and for an hour it seemed like sadness had disappeared from the world.
It’s not easy to single out the best moment of the parade. Maybe it was the group picture in front of the Palace of Culture and Science or the feeling you got when you thought you were at the end of the line, but when you turned around, you saw hundreds of people still behind you. Or maybe it was the realization that what you are doing here is really important and that people are paying attention. That people of Warsaw closed their streets for you and 1000 of your friends to pass through to help them remember that a new generation can and will bring about change. That you being here matters, just like what the rest of the members of your section are doing back home matters. You have left a mark just by being here.
After the Flag Parade, a bus came to pick us up for the Opening Ceremony at the beautiful main building of Politechnicka. Walls were lit in ESN colours and Marcin Szymanowski, the Head of the Organising Committee, presented all of the partners of AGM Warsaw who later gave their own speeches of encouragement. Safi Sabuni, the president of ESN International, also deserves a special mention for leaving the whole room in awe by asking one simple question in the middle of her speech:
I think all of us were trying to find an answer to that question, but all we had to do was look at the people sitting around us. This network, and these people are what keep us moving. She finished her speech by saying that we live in a world where diversity is no longer a bad thing, but what keeps us united.
And before we got a chance to enjoy the delicious food prepared for us, we were honored by a performance by the Polish pianist Aleksandar Debicz. After the dinner, everyone was free to join the night programme.
We will be back with more news straight from Warsaw tomorrow!
Until then, follow #AGMwarsaw and #THISisESN for live updates from the participants.