Agm Utrecht Report

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ESN AGM Utrecht, pre AGM CNR and post AGM CNR report Annual General Meeting, Council of National Representatives meetings March 23rd – April 1st 2009 Utrecht, the Netherlands By Madara Apsalone The National Representative of Latvia [email protected], [email protected]

Executive Summary 2009 is the year, when ESN celebrates its 20th anniversary. AGM 2009 took place in Utrecht – city, where the very first ESN section was founded back in 1989. Since then ESN has grown firstly as an international platform, then developed as organization, having full time board working in Brussels and hundreds of sections from Norway to Morocco. Now ESN has a participatory status in the Council of Europe and in near future will become a full member of the European Youth Forum. Tens of thousands of international students participate in our activities and projects on annual basis. This AGM we revised our vision, mission and values. We understood that we have outgrown our original work to help exchange students and out new vision tells about an enrichment of society. This AGM was also time for us do mistakes, hopefully learn from them and continue working with the same trust in each other and passion to make mobility reality and exchange the life experience for more and more people all over Europe. In some words: ESN has a new vision and mission Changes in the International Board Happy Birthday! ESN PRIME enters its second stage ESNSurvey 2009 - Provision of Information for exchange – coming soon ESNTrain unfortunately cancelled Brand new Satellite to be released The first ever informal Nordic – Baltic meeting in ESN … and as always some new stuff in our statutes My biggest thanks to all of my and ESN Riga supporters, but especially to the Academic Programme Agency and my wonderful ESN Riga team! Enjoy the reading, Madara

Annual General Meeting The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is the highest decision making body of ESN. Each March representatives from entire network meet to elect the new board, change statutes, approve budget, choose organizers of the future events .. see their old friends again, share ESN spirit, work hard and party harder and in all other matters finish one and start another ESN year. In AGM each section has one vote and each national representative has one vote (but Council of National Representatives (CNR) votes just for the new board). This year we were 2 delegates from Latvia – I as the national representative and Santa Jastrebova as the section delegate for ESN Riga. We did our best to use our experience in ESN to promote Latvia and take care of ESN International. I was in Utrecht already before AGM – council of national representatives spent 4 days preparing the last documents, doing the last changes in agenda and trying to get a common opinion in the most complicated issues. Next ESN International meeting will be CNR meeting in Porto from 7th till 11th May.

Network This AGM was quite historic as we crossed 300 section line and currently we are 301 section in 33 countries and two candidate sections – ESN Siauliai in Lithuania and ESN Triana in Albania. Both sections will hopefully be accepted as full members in CNR Porto, raising the number of ESN countries to 34. I am appointed to do study visit in Siauliai and my impression of them so far is very promising. I’m looking forward to make Baltic States stronger in ESN network. Moreover quite unique meeting for the first time took place in AGM and that was Nordic – Baltic block meeting. All other countries had their national platforms in that time, but we decided to go for a united support to the Nordic candidates to International Board (both were elected) and collective discussion of ESN issues from our regional perspective. Much thanks Sweden for the large contribution so this meeting could happen and I am personally very interested to keep this as a tradition also for the next AGMs.

Future of ESN During the AGM, ESN members decided on the future and the path ESN will follow over the next years. The new vision of ESN is: “Enrichment of society through international students” Consequently, ESN highlights the importance of student mobility as a crucial factor to make Europe and the world a place of more understanding, tolerant and integrated societies. The new mission states: “ESN is the key volunteer student organization in international higher education in Europe. We provide opportunities for self-development and cultural understanding, under the principle of Students Helping Students.” This means, ESN as a true student organization continues taking responsibility for all international students, as well as taking an active lead in fostering cultural awareness and active citizenship..

Values unity in diversity, diversity in the unity We all have different backgrounds, but share one common aim and goal. students helping students We passionately commit ourselves to volunteering for the benefits of others. fun in friendship and respect We enjoy relations based on respect. international dimension of the life We are open-minded, mobile, like to discover and explore, to co-operate and to interact to break borders. love for Europe as an area of peace and cultural exchange We live and benefit from the cultural richness of Europe to the utmost. openness with tolerance We understand and accept others and learn from them. cooperation in the integration We share an holistic view towards internationality.

ESN International Board Quite some changes affected also the international board. Firstly, as in each AGM, a new international board was elected. Marketa Tokova (Czech Republic) – President Veeli Oeselg (Estonia) – Vice President Troels Christensen Frost (Denmark) – Treasurer Marc Janson (The Netherlands) – Web Project Administrator Tajana Nikolic (Croatia / Italy) – External Relations Marketa is our current vice-president, Veeli president of ESN Tartu and organizer of NEP 2008, Troels has been financial auditor in AGM Besancon and also followed ESN finances all year as a member of the financial commission, Marc was part of the AGM Utrecht 2009 organizing committee and Tajana is a very experienced ESN member from Italy, Croatia and Slovenia, she has organized many national level events and her excellent skills in both communications and statistics will definitely be of a very high value for ESN. Board is very experienced and I’m looking forward to see them working as a team to lead, inspire and facilitate ESN. According to newly made changes in statutes, the board will be in charge from July 15th. This was done to ensure a better transition period and change board in summer – a bit less active time for ESN, also allowing the prospective board members to finish their studies and then give all their time to ESN.

Unfortunately I have also bad news regarding ESN International board, as our president Matthias Fenner decided to step down because of ESNTrain project problems as well some internal issues. He will, however, stay in ESN headquarters in Brussels trying to, as much as possible, do all his previous tasks and help Marketa as the current vice-president and the next president of ESN. Good news are that the next president – Marketa – is already in office, so we can be sure that they will manage to transfer all the knowledge and tasks properly, moreover many ESNers including me still see Matthias as our leader, independently for formally having the title or not.

Happy Birthday! ESN Projects Give 20 – give plenty ESN is turning 20 years old in 2009 and to celebrate our anniversary we’re planning a huge Give20 fundraising campaign that will take place all over the Europe. Collected money will be given to Unicef to help children in Bhutan. The official goal is to raise 1.2 million EUR (10 EUR per international student). Give 20 was launched in the middle of October 2008; however most of the sections plan their activities for spring/ fall 2009. ESN Riga is also taking part in the project and Give 20 coordinator is Elina Vestere ([email protected]) – please contact her in case you have any ideas for activities we – ESN Riga - could organize. There will be common activities for all the sections during the week before the 16th October. The current idea is to organize Flash Mob Freeze on the 12th October and huge Birthday parties on 16th, but this still can change.

Birthday Book ESN Riga has finished all the necessary actions form the Birthday Book project. The book will be finished at international level during October. Postcard Campaign: Send a postcard - send a chance During summer 2009, ESN will launch a postcard competition to raise awareness towards intercultural issues, reduce xenophobia and racism: "Send a postcard – send a chance". Currently contest for the best postcard design is open till the April of 15th. Later 5 best postcard designs will be chosen and postcards printed. While traveling or enjoying your time abroad, all ESNers and international students will be encouraged to send a postcard with a short story on a theme "impact of stay abroad on their cultural awareness". All postcards with the stories will be published online where an online voting will take place to choose about twenty postcards/stories composing a handbook on mobility. Find out more about ESN Postcard project here: ESN Train (CANCELED) ( On Friday 27th of March (the second day of AGM) ESN International was, to its deepest regrets, informed that the ESNtrain would not depart from Bratislava. Immediately, attempts to find a solution were made which unfortunately proved futile. I am not competent to speak about the reasons; specially created ESN commission is working on that, so I’ll make my statement, when I will see their report, but it deals with misunderstanding between ESNTrain project organizers and Austrian Railway Company ÖBB about payment deadlines and the terms of their contract. ÖBB was managing all the connections with other railway companies, and as a consequence, canceled the Train one day before its departure, what could have been changed only by finding the missing 150 000 (as minimum) EUR. ESN International Board and CNR discussed all possible solutions on Friday night as well the Annual General Meeting held a vote for ESN International to guaranty those 150 000, what, fortunately, was not approved, as it exceeds ESN annual budget. On Saturday, the ESNtrain organizer Platform GmbH, officially announced the cancellation. It’s important to say, that ESN International was not organizing ESNTrain, meaning the train itself. There was a separate ESNTrain team behind it, having a specially established company Platform GmbH. It was done, as any large project has risk to fail and this way ESN as organization does not have any financial or legal responsibility of ESNTrain. From my side I can just say, that the project management and control was not the best, as it was too much left on this one project team that we all trusted too much, while ESN was busy with organizing local activities in cities, which train was supposed to visit. But as soon, as we knew about the problem, that was too late, of course, we – CNR and ESN International board – tried to do all possible to save it. Currently we have a special team, consisting of people, who are not Board members or National Representatives, trying to identify the reasons of failure of ESNTrain, they are also trying to help sections, that were supposed to organize activities. Some activities will nevertheless happen in

cities they were supposed to take place, only without train. There is also a special forum for students, who where supposed to be on train: as many of them are traveling anyway. Speaking about Latvia, as train was not supposed to be in Riga, we planned just an informative Latvian night with some presentations and movies, so we do not have any large financial loses because of this. Only two ESN Riga team members including me were supposed to participate in the train. There will be an update on the train issue in my report from CNR meeting in Porto. I am happy to say, that ESN still has all other projects and all international partners, including European Commission, European youth Forum and Unicef, are informed, support us and will continue to work with us.

ESN Projects PRIME – Problems of Recognition in Making Erasmus The idea of PRIME is to follow the Bologna process in the higher education institutions in Europe, to evaluate how successfully or unsuccessfully universities recognize courses studied aboard and if students have equal opportunities to participate in exchange programs. PRIME officially started in September and for the benefit of all Latvian exchange students ESN-Riga was one of the 108 sections that decided to become take part in it. We have finished the first part- the questionnaire for the international coordinators of universities. Much thanks the University of Latvia, the University of Liepaja, Riga Medical College, Riga Teacher Training and Educational Management Academy, Riga Stradiņš University, School of Business Administration Turiba and Vidzeme University College for collaboration. Just before AGM the second part of PRIME questionnaire – survey for students – was launched. You can access it here - Please promote this to all former exchange students, so we can take both – universities and students’ opinions into account and be better aware of the challenges exchange students have to face in Europe. You can fine more at Ibiza event in Spain ESN Spain is organizing their annual Ibiza (international but in Spanish style) event from 13th -17th May 2009. Event will host around 1800 students and five day program, including accommodation, most of the meals, t-shirt and entrance to parties will cost 105 EUR (+ travel costs to Ibiza) and 5 EUR will be donated to Give 20 project (see below). Registration is open to all exchange and international students, as well ESN members at Registration ends at 15th April or before, in case all the places are full, so it is recommended not to wait till the 15th April.

BEST - Bulgaria, Education, Summer, Training The very first ESN summer school will take place from 30th July to 5th August in Sofia, Bulgaria. It will focus on international education, non-formal education, mobility, volunteering and different intercultural issues. Project has been granted by the European Youth Foundation. There will be 50 participants, 1 from each small ESN country and 2 from large ESN countries, the number of applications per country will still be a subject of the quality of applications. There will be from 40 to 60 EUR participation fee. More information about the summer school will hopefully be available soon. ESN Satellite Satellite is ESN corporate website, developed by Youth Agora (former ESN webteam, now an independent youth organization). Youth Agora presented a brand new design – Satellite 3.0 - during AGM that has also improved functionality and is using newer version of Drupal. There are still some technical issues, but Beta version of the new website will be available for sections before summer. ESN Riga might switch to the new Satellite, but it depends on the functionality, as well some technical issues. ESN Radio After one year of inactivity, ESN Radio project is running again. There will be a new ESN Radio module for Satellite 3.0 (ESN corporate website, developed by Youth Agora). Unfortunately content wise project is sill unclear. ESN Radio team welcomes proposals for programmes (and programmes made by ESN members). Please feel free to [email protected] in case of any suggestions. More information about ESN Radio will be available after CNR Porto. ESN Survey ESNSurvey team has started to analyze results of ESNSurvey2008 – Exchanging cultures. Some reports might be available by summer. Meanwhile ESNSurvey 2009 Provision of Information for exchange is almost ready and will be released in April. I’ll again need your help to promote ESNSurvey to students.

Changes in ESN Statutes and Standing Orders As I still have not received the final version of ESN Statutes and all Standing Orders with all accepted proposals and amendments, I can for now just briefly explain the main accepted changes. 1) transition period for the international board - board used to change in CNR meeting in May, so the new board was supposed to be in Brussels (ESN headquarters) sine the end of April and the old leave in the end of May. Those dates were not always easy for people, as they did not match with the end of study year; as well time from election till moving to Brussels was too short. So now board will change in summer, which is a bit less active time for ESN, so they have more time for proper knowledge and task transfer. 2) ESN Working groups are removed from statutes, as they will be restructured to be more focused and more efficient.

3) ESN Regional platforms are removed from statutes, as they are not statutory meetings. There is a new Charter on Regional Platforms to emphasize the importance of them as meetings in the same time. 4) Finally the point that ESN board members and national representatives have to be students is removed, as this was not always the case, additionally was unnecessarily limiting ESN experience to certain frames of the formal education. 5) Also point that ESN sections should be legally registered organizations was removed, as many of existing sections are part of other organizations and student unions and this requirement was never really in force.

Finances ESN financial situation is quite fine. ESN received several grants in 2008, also some revenues form selling PR materials and distributing ESN Cards. For the first time a professional auditor company checked ESN financial reports (as was decided in AGM Besancon). ESN budget was quite balanced for 2008, so is the budget for 2009. For 2009 ESN is granted by the administrative grant EUR 6 087 from the Euro pan Youth Foundation, as well also individual ESN projects, such as PRIME and the Summer School in Bulgaria, have been granted. AGM Utrecht decided to adjust sections’ membership fees from 50 EUR to 60 EUR, as the last year they were changed was 1994. Some of money from this additional income will be used for sections’ support that in 2009 will most probably go for ESNTrain issues.

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