The MENTOR Program was created thinking about those who wish to help new Erasmus students acclimatize to Poland, from the very beginning of their stay. According to the motto of the student organization Erasmus Student Network (ESN) – “Students helping students” – a mentor is a patient person, who can listen and likes to help others.
What do you have to do, to become a Mentor? First of all, you have to complete the application form, which can be found on the webpage or the Facebook page of your local ESN section, where we give all of the most important information (name, e-mail address). Sometimes you can even decide from which country you would like your Erasmus student.
I’ve completed the form, what now? We wait for a response, in which we receive all important information about our new Erasmus student, as well as the steps we should take. Caring for an exchange student is not only a responsibility, but also a great way to have fun. First of all, and most importantly, we must contact our student. We have to find out when and how they are coming to Poland. After receiving this information, we have to plan our time so that we can collect them from the airport and help them get to the place where they will be staying. It pays to be patient, because Erasmus students can have a lot of questions and doubts. They might ask the same things a few times. For the students it will be as much of a stressful situation as it is for us. It is important to help them with registration at dormitories or at the apartment. We have to remember that they cannot speak as fluently in Polish as we do ;)
I’ve collected my Erasmus, helped with accommodation and that is the end of the adventure? Absolutely not! Now you can show your Erasmus how well you know the city. Where is the best place to go for Polish pierogi. Where is the best panoramic view of the city. Where are the best concerts in the city. From that moment, something special will start. Step by step, day by day… something is created that nobody will be able to take away from you. Your FRIENDSHIP! Every day, it will become even stronger. Later, even though you will be separated by kilometers, you will always be close. You started the adventure as Mentor – Erasmus. Now you are finishing it as best friends for years…
If you would like to know the taste of the international exchange without leaving the country, contact your local section and apply!
He likely learnt you riding a bike or picking you up from the trainings.More than once he supported you on your matches and tournaments. I am sure, that you know who I am talking about. So please, remind your father’s face now and think about everything what you received from him. There are many memories,aren’t they?
Today we celebrate Father’s Day in Poland . It is nothing strange for foreigners, as in the other part of the world, people also practice it. But what about the beginning of this celebration? The first local Father’s Day, happened in the small village in America in 1910, as a result of a war veteran’s daughter, who wanted to honor her dad. She claimed that the fathers also deserve their own day, as well as mothers, because they are the part of the family to the same extent. However, the official holiday was established by president Nixon in 1972.
Polish prime celebration was held in 1965, few years in earlier than in America. Probably the way of spending that day are the same all over the world. Kiddies give their fathers drawings, teenagers buy a small gift and adult children just take care of those, who hugged them several years before.
How do you surprise your daddy this year?
Ada is a lawyer both professionally and in the ESN. No one knows the Articles of Association better than her. Although she’s been active in ESN for 7 years, she still has a motivation and willingness to work. She always notices things to improve and what’s more, she aims to do it!
How does ESN help you in your working life?
Being in ESN has an influence on my professional career, especially on the soft skills, such as planning ability, time management, working under time pressure or multitasking. All of them are helpful in all kind of jobs, actually. But perhaps the most important abilities which I’ve developed in our organization are communication and teamwork skills allowing me to successfully cooperate with all kinds of people. Apart from that, there's also a wide range of contacts and connections that one can develop thanks to ESN.
Could you tell me which post you've hold so far brings up the best memories and why?
It’s hard to choose only one, because each of them has taught me something valuable and gave me a lot of satisfaction. If I had to point it out, I think if I had to point out just one, I would say that it's always the first things you do which give you the best memories. In my case, it was being a Mentor for an Erasmus exchange student and a Travel Coordinator in my local section because at the time I could be close to Erasmus students and I was able to help them directly. On the other hand, on ESN Poland level, my best experience is being the Vice President of the National Board. It was the most intense time of my life. My last academic year was also amazing, as I was in the Audit Committee, where the atmosphere was really good. (Greetings for Gabi and Magda :) )
It’s the third time when you are in the Audit Committee of ESN Poland. In your opinion, from of all the tasks,what is the essential task of the committee?
I believe that the most important tasks is to keep on improving the activity of the Association, for example by carrying out controls, presenting proposals and paying attention to the irregularities up to date. In general, the control authority should evaluate the completed tasks, and that’s why it might look like we are only pointing out the mistakes, but it doesn’t work like that. Our comments and suggestions must be constructive, so that our actions may create the desired effects.
Is being part of the Audit Committee difficult? How much time do you have to spend on it? Is writing reports a laborious or a pleasant task?
It might sound a bit trivial, but each position in our Association is difficult in one way or another, which is good, because this way the members are given an opportunity to learn new things. In the Audit Committee, one of the most difficult things to do is to separate your responsibilities from private relations. On the one hand we should care for our good relationship with with the National Board, but on the other hand, we have to be as objective as possible.
As the time we need to spend on our tasks, it could be limited to the statutory duties only, but we can also do more than that. How much time the Audit Committee spends on a given task depends solely on its members. Being in the Audit Committee is far less absorbing than being in the National Board. How much time do I spend on my duties? As much as it takes. One day, it could be only a few easy contracts to evaluate, which takes about 10 minutes; but the next day I might have to write a report, which obviously requires some more time.
I wouldn't say that writing reports is the best thing I've ever done. You certainly need to get through a lot of documents before you start writing a report. Yet, WHEN the atmosphere between the members of Audit Committee is good, and WHEN we support each other, it's not that bad , though.
Would you say that being a member of the Audit Committee requires any special experience?
The background from ESN Poland Board helps for sure, however it isn’t essential. It’s helpful when the Audit Committee members have an experience on both the local and national level, or on the international level, as controlling the Board requires general knowledge about ESN. Nevertheless, individual skills, educational background, and professional experience of the candidates could be of importance too.
When did you join ESN? Why? What was your motivation?
Before I started college, I found out about the Erasmus programme and I really wanted to do a part of my studies abroad. During the first week at my university, I found the student organisation ESN and I visited their office. I met a friend there, who explained that I’m too young for the Erasmus programme because at the AGH University of Science and Technology, there is a rule that a student must pass the first year of studies to be able to go for Erasmus. Considering the fact that I started studying a week before that, it was impossible. For the next few months I continued studies but I felt that something was missing all the time. This is why I came back to that office and I found that friend who I talked to before. I told him that I feel bored in my life and I would like to join the ESN. We talked for a very long time about what ESN is and how it works. After that I was informed that soon there will be a meeting I should attend. I thought he meant the recruitment process meeting but it turned out to be a meeting of the whole section. I didn’t understand a thing the members of the meeting were talking about, apart of one question - can someone pick a French Erasmus student up from the airport? I volunteered for that task and it was the start of my activity in ESN, which lasts till this day.
Breakthrough moment in your Newbie career?
It’s difficult to tell. When I was a Newbie - because there was no recruitment process or training camp back then - I attended two section meetings, after which there were Christmas holidays. Following that I picked up an Erasmus student from the airport. That was the breakthrough moment (from nothing to something) which lead to more interesting events.
General breakthrough moment in ESN?
I think that on a local level, it was becoming the president of ESN AGH. On national level, I believe it would be becoming the president of ESN Poland.
What functions did you have in ESN?
I started from being a mentor, then a local HR manager, and then president of our section. After that I had a 5-months-long break, because I went for a students exchange to Singapore. During that exchange I was able to join the InterCom committee. I was also a National Coordinator of ESNcard project and a member of PR committee. In 2013, I joined the ComCom, where I was the Corporate Identity Team Coordinator. During summer, I went for Eduk8 T4T in Cluj-Napoca and a year later for Eduk8 T4T Trento, so I am an Eduk8er. I estimate the number of platforms during which I got to organise trainings to be around 50. In 2014, I became a coordinator of ESNcard project on the international level and a president of ESN Poland on the national level. After finishing my adventure with the national board, I was asked to join the Education Officers Support Group in ICE. In recent years, I was a member of chairing teams of different platforms four times. Recently I joined the Audit Committee of ESN Poland.
What are you most proud of in your ESN career?
The one thing I thought was impossible and which indeed happened, was reaching an agreement with a hotel during the organisation of Silesia Dream Event. I called a lady from a hotel and kindly asked if by any chance we do not need to pay them the money (around 10 000 PLN) since the event didn’t take place.
She just said: Ok, no problem.
Did you have any doubts? What? When? Why? How did you deal with them?
Of course there were moments of doubt. First of all the criticism, which I could not understand and the resignation of the members of the board. One of them resigned for a short period of time and the second one resigned for good. Moments of doubt go away after some time, but what definitely helped me was the support of good people. You can find a lot of them in ESN.
How would you rate the development of our association over the time you are its member?
In some aspects there is a huge progress and in some there is a regress. If we consider trainings we can see a huge development. During my first National Platform in Łódź in 2011, there was a fantastic HR training. Back then there was no UPGRADE, but there were Newbies and I believe that choosing UPGRADE was a great decision. 5 years ago there was no Eduk8 in ESN International. So we can notice a great change in this field.
On the other hand, the area in which we need to improve is the contact with partners. We need fresh blood, new companies, because if there are any, they are short-termed. Additionally alarming is the fact that some sections themselves have partnerships like the ones of ESN Poland.
How do you assess your development and development of your competences?
Due to the fact that most ESN people do not remember how I started, I have to admit that I have changed unrecognisably. For example, I was the chairman of a chairing team this year at the NP in Warsaw, in which 150 people took part and I felt like I was standing in front of a mirror at home. When I was freshman, after several months of activity, I was asked to give a presentation at the Welcome Dinner, an event for Erasmus students, for a similar number of people. As I was studying English, the language was never a problem. Back then I refused by explaining I had extremely important activities that I could not miss at the time, and now I would not have the slightest problem with it. I developed the skills of presentation, communication, and something hard to describe, but so-called ‘getting a grip’ of life. In ESN we gain a lot of experience in solving difficult life situations, which ordinary students do not have.
Do you find ESN experience useful in your work life or private life?
Yes and yes. I have finished my studies but I do not work in the profession. On the recruitment interview in the company where I am currently working, I applied for a fairly average internship offer. After the first interview, I was invited to a more prestigious internship program. Then I went through three stages, eliminating all the other candidates. The only question about studies was whether or not I finished it. There were no substantive questions about bachelor or master thesis topics. I was asked about my skills, ESN directly, as well as questions about crisis situations where I presented solutions and behaviours developed in ESN. During this interview I was constantly coming back to ESN. And as for private life, my girlfriend is from ESN.
What has ESN changed in your life?
ESN has changed me totally. Besides the soft skills I mentioned, it changed me visually. I used to wear Nike shoes, torn jeans, colourful hoodies and had an afro on my head. Now, if someone sees me in a hoodie or trainers, it's just in the hostel during a platform
What was your biggest ESN failure, what didn’t you manage to achieve, even though you wanted to?
I always wanted to place a partner logo on the ESNcard. Since the time when I was the coordinator, the National Board has changed three times and recently we returned to this topic. We are working on changing ESNcard's distribution format and I think that if we manage to do this, it will be a first step towards it, but still a long way to go.
Where do you think you would be if it wasn’t for ESN?
Hard to say. Probably not at AGH University of Science and Technology, because if it was not for ESN, I would have changed the university. If I have changed the university I would not be an engineer. I would study something related to my current work, but I would pick the student path, more theoretical than the practical path of ESN. Maybe I would be in another student organisation or I would be working for a long time already, but I certainly would not be who I am now.
Were you prepared enough, when you were taking over your first position? Did you know what you were about to experience?
Generally speaking, I think I was prepared. You know, you can never be prepared 100%. I certainly was not the person who decided at the last moment. When it comes to volunteering for the National Board, I've known about this for a long time and decided that if nothing in my life would change significantly, I would be a candidate for President of National Board in the elections of 2014/2015. Everything went according to a plan, for a few months I was working on developing my skills and projects, then I volunteered as a candidate for the President of ESN Poland.
What would you call the nicest memory from your term?
The little successes that were most visible for me when I was abroad. I had the feeling that we were a strong country and that everybody envied our atmosphere. The content of our platforms was often at a higher level than the international ones, and our problems in comparison with other countries turned out to be not so serious.
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