The most important time for the Network has come. A year after the previous meeting, ESNers from all around Europe have finally gathered in Berlin, Germany. You may guess that we are talking about the Annual General Meeting, the biggest event of the Network. Among other things, important decisions for the future of the network are taken and the members of the new International Board are elected at this event. However, it is not only about plenaries and resolving the future, most importantly it is about us. About the people who dedicate their freetime to doing something more. About the thousands of volunteers coming together from 40 different countries.
The first days are usually calmer, full of mixed emotions and expectations. It’s not only reunions of oldies and encounters that are full of hugs and laughter over shared experiences, it’s also the start of many new friendships! For some of us, it is also a time of shyness in the beginning. How do you find your place among hundreds of others?
Yesterday the streets of Berlin slowly started to fill with people wearing ESN-branded clothes. Everyone came together at the hotel, where the programme was kicked off with the Opening Ceremony. The room was full of anticipation and participants were busy taking thousands of selfies, but the sound of a harpist opening the ceremony with the first notes silenced the crowd of more than 700 participants.
The programme of the evening included many speeches about an important anniversary: 30 years of the Erasmus programme. Safi Sabuni, the president of ESN International, summarised our thoughts when she said: “Erasmus is more than just studying in a different university. It is a cultural experience, it is an opportuntity to meet people from all over the world... It’s a generation that fosters an open outlook to everything that it does. It is a generation in which all of us have come to belong.“
Along with these words and an evening full of networking between different countries and sections, all fears of not fitting in or finding your kind of people in the crowd in were long gone.