The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is one of the biggest interdisciplinary student associations in Europe, founded in 1989 to support and develop student exchanges, especially within the framework of the Erasmus programme.
The Central European Platform (CEP) is an annual Regional Platform, which gathers the delegates from 9 countries (Lithuania, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Belarus and Slovenia) from the regions, representing their sections and countries to share their best practices and make decisions in order to run our Network better.
This year’s CEP was memorable for our country - from 26th to 29th of October the CEP was held in Vilnius, Lithuania, and I, Vydmantė Kudirkaitė (the member of ESN LSMU), was representing the ESN LSMU section as a section delegate.
The ESN Lithuanian delegation and I came to Vilnius on Thursday afternoon. After the registration and hotel check-in we had a city tour and in a couple of hours there was a Welcoming Ceremony and 30th Anniversary of Erasmus Celebration as a panel discussion at CEP Vilnius 2017. We had a word from The International Board of Erasmus Student Network and the Organizing Committee (OC) of this event. Later there was a Lithuanian night, where all the participants of CEP 2017 had a chance to taste traditional Lithuanian dishes and try Lithuanian folk dances themselves.
The first day of an intense schedule of plenaries started at 9:00 in the morning. It was full of presentations and interactive sessions. There were the reports from the International Board about ESN Mission, Vision and Values, ESN Logo Update International Partners, the benefits of having the ESNcard, Scanbalt Experience and presentations of the best 3 applicants of the region for ESN Showcase.
Another thing that was presented on Friday was the candidacy to organize the CEP 2018 – ESN Czech Republic was elected on Sunday as the next OC: CEP Olomouc 2018.
On a Friday evening, we all moved to the so-called “Eurodinner”, where we had a chance to try out different national cuisine foods of every participating country. Nevertheless, participants of the CEP Vilnius 2017 brought their country’s traditional clothes, thus we all had a chance to greet each other’s culture more.
The second day (Saturday) was the most intense. We had workshops with different kinds of topics: non-formal education and teambuilding in local section, public relations, international projects and how to improve soft skills, and presentations which lasted 10 hours in total. The most important plenary we had that day was the interactive 6 hours session, called “Future of ESN’. This session was happening for two days, Friday and Saturday. During that time, we were discussing what we could do to get ready for future challenges of the fast growing network because the last time ESN has reviewed its structure was in 2005 when they established an office in Brussels. The members of ESN IB were representing the changes they want to accomplish, such as reorganizing the structure of sections in every country, thus that only the delegates from a national level of every country could go to vote in Annual General Meeting (AGM). In addition, we had a workshop where we were discussing what would happen if AGM did not exist anymore and each section was just the part of a country section. Overall, we had a great discussion and I am happy that the IB wanted to hear our opinions about the important changes we will face very soon.
In the evening, we traditionally had the Gala Dinner where we all had a chance to get to know Lithuanian culture once more by singing songs. It was a magnificent evening with many pictures taken.
On Sunday, the last day of CEP, we had workshops, a lot of presentations about International Erasmus Games and the accommodation problems. In between the plenaries, we had a chance to get to know more about the various ESN committees, including Eduk8, ComCom, IT, SocialErasmus, Mov’in Europe, ICE, NEC and more. In the end, we had the voting where we elected CEP best practice 2017-2018 and section ESN UP Olomouc as the OC of CEP 2018.
In conclusion, I dare say CEP Vilnius 2017 was the best-organised event I have ever been to, the plenaries were very informative and the workshops gave me a chance to get to know more about ESN as an organization. In addition, I got to know a lot of people from different countries. However, the most important thing was that I had an opportunity to represent our ESN LSMU section, our university and the ESN Lithuania in this regional platform!