Huge excitement can be found during all four days of every Annual General Meeting, but the peak definitely comes on Sunday. It’s the day when a new International Board receives our trust to take the network in their hands. It’s the day when ESN takes another turn and starts a journey towards structural changes. It’s the day to celebrate the best practices of the past year and to say thank you to those that have led us.
If you’ve ever been abroad, you may well be familiar with change. Change can be scary. It drives you out of your comfort zone, makes you do crazy, unexpected things and shakes up your habits. That’s what happens on a daily basis to the thousands of exchange students who go to study abroad, every year, thanks to the Erasmus programme.
We in ESN are ambassadors of this programme; it is thus unthinkable we would not initiate change within ourselves. We constantly use our time to work hard on making changes, both internal and external, that we hope to benefit concretely the people we truly serve at the end of the day: the exchange students of Europe.
Apart from votings and structural decisions, there are so many more reasons for which the Annual General Meeting gathers such a huge bunch of people. There are reasons why those who haven't joined this event before are longing to come, and why many keep rushing back. It is a rare heartwarming feeling of having 800 people of different nationalities, cultures, and personalities in a same room, sharing the same thoughts, working on the same issues, following the same goals.This is the feeling that overwhelms us all during four days, and turns us into friends.
Meeting strangers who share your beliefs and spending your days with them creates a very strong bond. The big reunion of the Erasmus Generation is in no way only about work. Going to AGM also means being a part of activities that serve for people to meet and get to know each other.
It means painting towns in the colours of our national flags during Flag Parade, or taking a bite of each other's culture during the International Dinner. It means exploring the mobility opportunities all around Europe during the open Infomarket, as well as showcasing the most inspirational practices during the STARawards.
And you do that with people around you at all times – times of laughter, weariness, or thrill. The moments you experience here create the friendships that last.
We are committed to becoming the biggest student network, fostering education, helping students. We are a generation with friends across continents, with the chance to reunite over and over again. Spotting your old friend across the crowded room and rushing to their arms feels like being hugged by memories of another place and time, another event, knowing that your paths are different, but your journey is the same.
Looking towards the future,
This weekend, we made history.
AGM Thessaloniki, thank you for being magic.
AGM Sweden, see you in 2020!