From 7 - 11 of April 2016 delegates from Croatia participated in the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Warsaw, the biggest and most important ESN assembly.
After the exhausting trip, several hours spent at various airports and only minutes of sleeping, 17 representatives from Croatia (Dubrovnik, Osijek, Rijeka, Split, Zadar, Zagreb) finally gathered in Warsaw to represent their country at the biggest youth conference in Europe.
After we settled in the hotel and posted pictures of the most beautiful view in the city on Facebook, we started preparing for the Flag Parade. Equipped with flags, balloons, stickers and other props in Croatian colors, we started walking towards the downtown of Warsaw. More than 800 participants from 38 countries from all over Europe infected the people of Poland, who observed us with smiles on their faces, with cheer, excitement and song. Croatian delegation wore our national colors and sang our songs with pride, standing out and blending into the crowd at the same time. We were always close to two large flags compiled of all of our member countries’ flags, indicating our unity.
After the Flag Parade we had some time (read: not enough) to get ready for the Opening Ceremony at the beautiful main building of Politechnicka. That’s where Marcin Szymanowski, the Head of the Organizing Committee, presented all of the partners of AGM Warsaw who later gave their own speeches. Safi Sabuni, President of ESN International, surrounded by walls lit in ESN colors also gave a memorable speech, reminding us that we no longer live in a world where diversity is a threat, but hope for the better future.
The Opening Ceremony was followed by a dinner and the night programme at the Bank Club. The morning came faster than we expected, since all the section delegates who had the right to vote had to pick up their voting devices between 7 and 8 am - and if you know our National Representative (NR), that means 7 am SHARP! While everyone else were enjoying their breakfast, our NR tried to get us front row seats because that is where the cool kids are. Safi Sabuni officially opened the plenaries, after which ESN Spain invited us for a minute of silence to commemorate the Erasmus students who were tragically killed in the accident a few weeks ago. Following up on that, Safi also sent a message to Turkish delegates, letting them know the network hasn’t forgotten about them or their country. Mr. Tibor Navracsics, European Commisioner for Education, Culture and Sport, honoured us with a video message, telling us that mobile students have a better understanding of European countries and what a vital role our network plays in what Europe needs today.
“Erasmus+ is changing lives and opening minds.”
What did we do during the first day of plenaries? International Board presented their work so far, Flagship Project proposals (ExchangeAbility/Buddy System), as well as the Organising Committee for AGM 2017 (Berlin, Germany), were made and discussed. We also got to hear International Board candidates’ presentations and hear them answer all the curiously formed questions. After the exciting day, we had some time (read: not really) to prepare for the upcoming night programme.
The day ended with the always (more than) welcome Eurodinner, where all the countries got a chance to present their national cuisine. It was very.. multicultural. We decorated our table very well, representing all of our regions equally.
No one was happy to hear the sound of the alarm clock the morning after, especially because the bus was waiting for us at 7:15 am to take us to the Warsaw School of Economics. The morning will be remembered for the always cheerful budget discussion - our International Treasurer, Jovana Stanković, handled it perfectly, explaining it in a very simple and clear way so all of us would understand it - and coffee breaks without any coffee. Uniplaces, one of our partners, introduced themselves and announced the winner of the contest for the best Erasmus city―it’s Madrid!
After the plenaries, everyone hurried out into the hallway to prepare their table for the Infomarket. The delegates were located in the hallway, while committees, project teams and partners were located in the middle of the building. We are more than happy to announce that we got a lot of inquries regarding all the Universities in Croatia! Hopefully, the rate of incoming students will spike up, as well as the the number of bilateral agreements.
After the Informarket we got a chance to enjoy in some of the 45 workshops the Eduk8 team had prepared. Croatia sent a lot of newbies to AGM, so hopefully they learned some valuable things that they can implement in their sections. The day ended with National Platforms where the delegations had the opportunity to sit down, reflect, and discuss what they experienced during the past few days and make sure that everything is clear concerning the votes on Sunday.
After the hard and long day, we enjoyed in the long awaited Erasmus World Fastival.
Sunday, the last day of AGM, was definitely the most exciting and emotional day for us. It was a day of decissions making and saying goodbye. International committees (ICE, NEC, ComCom, IT, FICO) occupied the stage first, followed by international projects (SocialErasmus, ExchangeAbility, Mov’in Europe, ESNcard, ESNsurvey, ErasmusIntern, Eduk8, Responsible Party). Then came the voting! We approved the financial report for 2015 as well as the budget for 2016, and Action Plan for 2016. We also elected the Flagship Project―it’s ExchangeAbility! Judging by the number of votes, Buddy System received a big support as well, so we hope to see it evolve. Maybe it gets elected for the Flagship Project next year and we all get to implement it in our sections. The Organising Committee for AGM 2017 was elected - next year, we will be seeing you in Berlin!
And, of course, we elected the International Board. Or better to say, we reelected them! New/Old International Board for 2016/2017 is:
President - Safi Sabuni (ESN Sweden)
Vice-President - Matthew Clemo (ESN UK)
Treasurer - Jovana Stankovic (ESN Serbia)
Communication Manager - Gaffar Rampage (ESN the Netherlands)
Web Project Administrator - Thomas Pappas (ESN Greece)
After the elections and the official closing of the plenaries, we went to get ready for the Gala Dinner and the STARawards. We’re proud to say that we won STARland for the 2nd best country in the network. We feel so honored to have received this award second year in a row.
After the STARawards all we had to do was cross the street - which, in Poland, is a bit more complicated than it sounds - to reach the Palace of Culture and Science where the Gala Dinner was held. Everyone was really fancy and dressed up, took some pictures, ate all the delicious food, and socialized until the morning.