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Dear Diary: Let Me Tell about One Reunion

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What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear “reunion”? Is it a meeting of your friends from college after the year of your graduation? Or maybe you are a keen fan of “Friends” and you have recently seen the show of the actors bringing back memories from the film set. Despite what your connotations are, I want to introduce you to an international scene and the one and only: Erasmus Generation Meeting (EGM).
People having a flag
Participants at the first Erasmus Generation Meeting in Porto

The Beginnings


Some time ago, a group of volunteers thought how amazing it would be to gather all members of the Erasmus Student Network organisation and create a space for sharing, learning and development. 

When the idea of the Erasmus Generation Meeting was born in 2019, no one knew what it would look like. Some were describing it as a conference, others more like a training event. 


Then the pandemic hit. The hope, however, wasn’t lost. An application for the event was sent - the volunteers believed that they could bring this idea to life, despite all the restrictions and countries closing borders. 


Porto was chosen as the destination for the very first edition. The main theme of the event was focused on the new Erasmus+ programme. The idea behind it was to show that we, as a group of individuals, have a role to play: making mobility a reality for all. Volunteers from across Europe started to arrive, not aware of what awaited them.


People having flags
All rights go to ESN International

The Flag Parade


It was the first point, preceding the official ceremony. The Flag Parade was set to be a symbolic gift to celebrate the 35 years of Erasmus+ programme.  What was the most distinguishing, just by seeing the big crowd? Over 800 people, representing diversity in its grace, wearing the colours of their countries, greeting each other and waiting for the march to start. Local people were looking through their windows and wondering what was going on, what that noise was for, and why there were so many different people. Music was filling the streets of Porto and the crowd was entering Casa de Vilar for the Opening Ceremony. The participants were welcomed with a culture programme and speeches from the invited guests that on a daily basis are enriching the scope of the Erasmus+ programme.


The European Union designated this year the European Year of Youth. The idea is to focus the activities, the policies in the youth, and assist youth to be more engaged and more politically involved in day-to-day issues that affect youth today but also shape your future -  said Sofia Moreira de Sousa, as the European Commission Representative in Portugal expressed her thoughts on the connection of Erasmus+ programme and youth engagement. 


Flag parade
Flag Parade

In the Face of Mobility

The Erasmus programme has always been there for learning new cultures and broadening horizons. That’s why it was an important highlight for the EGM. During the three days of the event, there were more than 80 sessions held! 

The topics were focused on areas such as  environmental sustainability, inclusion, digitalisation, democratic participation. Erasmus Talks, ignite and campfire sessions, and knowledge hubs  - a multiform of the sessions added up to the dynamic of the event in the whole.


To new volunteers that joined the organisation during the pandemic, this kind of international event was an exceptionally new thing on their agenda. 

They prepared their stands for the international dinner, encouraging their new international friends to taste the foreign treasures. They also tasted some Portuguese culture and had a moment of suspension, a feeling of being in the present, united


Almost 80 sessions were held

The People

Apart from the main content and a wide range of topics, it wouldn’t be that memorable without the people I met. The atmosphere was one of a kind. We laughed, we were surprised, we were moved. When you meet people who live in different countries, you know that you only have around a couple of days to stay together and enjoy it to the fullest. 

We’re part of one family that brings round the values of the Erasmus Generation. By creating events like this one, we create a story that is going to reshape 


Having a chance of being one of the participants at the very first Erasmus Generation Meeting is to me - as a volunteer and as a young European - a dream come true. Now, I see the Erasmus Generation more empowered, closer to one another. Furthermore, it's tangible proof that people from different nations are seeking ways to connect. Despite cultural differences, they are able to create a safe space for sharing and making friends, even forever. I feel part of it and, I assure you, it's an exciting feeling. It’s my personal energy booster when I’m a bit down because it’s also giving me hope that I meet those people again.  


People holding signs
People got to reconnect

Note to Future Ambassadors

We’re getting home hope. Because hope is what has made the history of our organisation possible. We have written the stories from hope (...) of trying to help students - said Juan Rayon, the President of Erasmus Student Network during his closing speech. Indeed, bringing countries together and helping students beyond borders is what makes ESN remarkable. 

If you ever are greeted with such a possibility to meet your international fellows, don’t hesitate, just do it. You will have a chance to create a culture of international dialogue.