Handmade postcard, lovely poem, field flowers… this way we were celebrating the day of the most important person in our life. Mother, mom, mommy…
Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans, who held festivals in honor of goddesses of crops, fertility and harvest. Forgotten for a long time came back in England and Scotland as Mothering Sunday. In Poland the celebration started in 1914. At times, Mother’s Day has been also a date for launching political or feminist causes. People were using the holiday as a time to highlight the need for equal rights and access to childcare.
As adopted by other countries and cultures, the holiday has different meanings, it is associated with different events (religious, historical or legendary), and is celebrated on different dates. The first one is Norway. On February 9th all mommies start to celebrate by breakfast in bed, small gifts and flowers. Mexicans start this day with festive mass and Canadian people decorate their clothes with cloves.
May 26th in Polish culture is one of the most important holidays during the year. We don’t forget about our moms, the same way they would never forget about their kids. Flowers and gifts or maybe whole day with your mom? Everyone has their own way to celebrate this day with a mom.
And you…? How do you honor your mommy?
It takes time to be ready to become a chair of the committee. Nevertheless it doesn’t have to be such an incredibly difficult work, suitable only for the chosen few. Ola from the “ice-cold” Committee (ICE) told us about her interest in the field of education, willingness to change and improve the standards of the international student exchange programs, and being the Vice Chair of the Committee during her own Erasmus exchange.
You’re the Vice chair of ICE. Was it a long way to get into this position?
Not really. I was just active in different working teams and in the Committee.
Was it hard to make a decision to take up a position of the chair of the committee? What was your greatest fear and what surprised you positively?
If Valentin, the previous Chair of the ICE, did not ask me if I wanted to be Vice Chair, I would not have run for the position. I really had other plans for the ICE. The moment the Main Chair suggested me to run, I started thinking about it. Then it was hard, because I didn't know whether I am the right person and whether I am sure that I want to be one. Nevertheless I finally made up my mind and I was chosen. What was I afraid of? The fact that I can't manage my duties and that I am not experienced and knowledgeable enough for the position. It surprised me how wonderful people started to work with me and how many good friends I met in the ICE.
Have you been in the local board earlier?
Yes, I was a Treasurer in the local board.
Have you had any experience on the national level before you joined the ICE?
I was a local Education Officer for the half of a year.
Why the ICE then? This is the committee that everyone knows but only few know its scope of activity.
Before I've gone on my first Erasmus exchange I had the opportunity to study on two universities in Cracow. Besides, my dad is a professor at the university also in Cracow. That is why I very often discussed with him the subject of the Polish educational system. We talked about pros and cons, problems and opportunities. Then after I have gone on my first Erasmus exchange, I could compare my experience from Poland with what university in Germany offered. I I've started to compare this different educational systems, the approach of the professors towards students, what is regarded as the most important, the approach towards the nationalization and mobility. I’ve been curious, how does it look like in different countries, that is why I decided to join the ICE. Moreover, I’ve joined the committee because I was angry with the Erasmus+. I mean it. I had to fight with my university for my right to go on the exchange. It is generally easy to get the Erasmus+ scholarship from my university but at my department it is more problematic. At the beginning my dean and several professors didn't agree for me to go, although I fulfilled all the requirements. At the administrative level it was like going through hell and back, only to be able to make my dream come true and learn something new.
Have you succeeded?
I succeeded but I haven't forgotten what I had to come through. I couldn't understand why some professors wanted to stop someone from getting the foreign scholarship even though dean's already approved it, without giving any specific reason. Why wouldn't they let you catch up with the syllabus differences after coming back, despite an individual purse of studies. Such cases are very common and I know many students who had to repeat the entire semester after coming back from the exchange. In the ICE I was able to share my experience about the Erasmus+, but also about my ESN work. I met people who, like me, noticed that it is not all roses. I could also work in many working groups where I learned a lot of interesting things from many different areas. In addition, joining the ICE gave me the opportunity to present some of our doubts about the European Commission's Erasmus program. The ICE is a wonderful committee with wonderful, passionate people. For those people who do not know what the ICE is doing, I invite you to check out our Wiki or to participate in my Regional Platform sessions.
Is it possible to reconcile being on the Erasmus exchange and being a Chair of the Committee? What was the biggest difficulty? Or maybe there wasn't any?
It is absolutely possible to reconcile those two things but it is not easy. The biggest difficulty is always a lack of time.
Who do you think would be a good candidate for the ICE? Those interested in what subjects or areas? Should such a person study anything specific?
The ICE is for every ESNer, no matter where in the organization structure they are at the moment. However, it is recommended to have more than the half of a year of experience in the section. The area of your studies is not important. It is important for the candidates to show their interest in education, mobility, empowerment, etc. While applying to the ICE you have to remember that the most important thing is to have a good cover letter and a nice resume. Nice means it can’t be written in a rush and we’ve received a lot of such documents during the open calls. Sometimes we felt ashamed that in such an organization as ESN we can send a CV basically illegible, without a specific structure and with language errors. Nevertheless, cover letter that shows your motivation is the most important. In the cover letter it would be the best to point out that you have a good attitude and your own opinions, experience connected with mobility or educational system or personal development. It is also important to show commitment to a specific topic. If the candidate sees any problem with Erasmus+ or the mobility it is worth mentioning it and expressing your opinion on the subject. Also if there is a specific area of the ICE that a candidate is interested in or a specific project he or she should mention it in the cover letter.
Do you have any further plans for your career in ESN?
I do not know. We will see. ESN opens up a lot of development paths, but there are many other possibilities beyond that. I will decide what to do next when I know what the future holds
When did you join the ESN? Why? What was your motivation?
I joined our section in November 2011. I found out about ESN thanks to the parties organised by ESN-EYE. By that time I already heard that Erasmus Students tend to create an amazing atmosphere. End those French guys…. The party was amazing, I conducted an investigation to find out who organised it, and then I decided to find out if my University has such an organisation too.
Breakthrough moment in your Newbie career?
Shortly after becoming a Newbie, my section received an additional spot for Upgrade in Białystok. After receiving a welcome pack I came around the ESN dictionary. The great amount of abreviations. All those events and Pallomeri. It was my first sight at ESN as an international organisation. At the same meeting I took part in training prepared by Ania Seweryn. Shortly after that training I decided I want to be like her someday.
General breakthrough moment in ESN?
I don’t have one breakthrough moment. My development in ESN is proceeding very slowly and in the most natural pace possible. Every single new experience comes right after another, but if I had to specify the most important moment, I think it would be taking over the function of local HR manager, and following that becoming a chair of HR committee and becoming a Eduk8 trainer.
What are you the most proud of in your ESN career?
Despite my strong motivation to work in ESN, being appreciated by the others makes me proud of my work the most. For example receiving an amazing souvenir from my committee during the presentation at National Platform in Lublin. I am very proud of that we were able to form a fantastic team with great work environment and do tasks assigned to HR Committee, I believe that it is a dream not only of every HR manager, but moreover a dream of every lider.
Did you have any doubts ? What? When? Why? How did you deal with them?
Not always everything goes perfectly and you can do your best performance for couple of years straight. The first moment I recall is when I came back to Poland from my Erasmus exchange and I couldn’t find myself in my ESN section. Before I left I was in local board, after I came back I had to find my place in ESN all over again. During one semester I experienced being the ESNer focused on Erasmus students, and after that I was already looking for some new responsibilities.
The next stage, when I was lacking motivation. There were moments when I didn't feel satisfied about my work in HR committee. What helped me then was meeting other members of the committee. I believe that working remotely can sometimes be difficult and unsatisfying, especially when you don’t know people you’re sharing your docs with ;)
I have to admit that before each UPGRADE I had sudden drops of my strength. It is a great project in which many things can happen. For couple of days I was convinced that after the Upgrade finishes, I will never undertake such a thing ever again. I think that for times like this the best remedy is the support from people from my surroundings, such as Ania, Upgrade trainers and both previous OC’s that I collaborated with in the past. Of course by the time that convention started, all those negative emotions were already gone and I couldn’t wait for the next UPGRADE! This year I also had better and worse moments, but when Ania is a mentor of your board, it is really difficult to get stressed for a longer period of time. The support from KOPIKO is also invaluable.
How would you rate development of our association during the time you are its member?
I joined ESN I in the same time when I started my studies so I did not only develop from ESN point of view but moreover throughout my whole academic career and semester abroad. Surely, I can say that I developed my soft-skill competencies, which I pursue to develop every single day, but I believe that I also acquire many hard-skill competences. Apart from those from my field which are connected with recruitment process and trainings, I also improved my technological competences, which are crucial for my current work. I also believe that a strong advantage is that my studies still encouraging me to pursue my ESN career. I often use my knowledge I acquire during my studies in my ESN work, and complement my academic knowledge with my experiences from ESN. If I had to name one capability I gained thanks to this organisation, it would surely be the broad meaning of leadership.
Do you find ESN experience useful in your work life or private life?
Of course! Work, Internship, apprenticeship.. all the chances I received due to my English language knowledge and my cool experiences in ESN I can put into my CV. I don’t remember single recruiter who didn’t ask me about that. Truth be told, recently the recruiter was more focused on my career work, but when it got to the interview with the manager, he was strongly interested in my ESN career, considering he knew all about ESN!
What ESN has changed in your life?
It would be easier to answer other way around. It didn’t change my fondness for sleeping, traveling and TV series. ESN convinced me to stop wasting my time of studying and motivated to start next studies. It gave me the idea for my future career, a chance of self-development, improving my experiences, building my self confidence and stepping out of my comfort zone. It may sound a bit cliche, but thanks to ESN I met a lot of amazing, inspiring people.
What function did you have in ESN?
In my section I was a local HR, right after that I became a member of sectional Audit Committee, in which I am working with the fourth board now. Also for a year I was a local representative. In association I was a chair of HR committee and member of a development and research team (famous and mythical ZBiR!) Now I am also an Alumni coordinator. On an international level I am a member of HR and NEC ( i was working on e-learning platform) Eduk8 trainer
What was your biggest ESN failure, what didn’t you manage to achieve, even though you wanted to?
I have a whole list of unrealised ideas! But all the time I’m telling myself that maybe I can still do them. On the other hand, my biggest failure is not being able to use the potential of mentor program during its first edition.
If you could redo something in ESN, what would it be?
Training event! Mainly because it’s so much fun, and every single next training trip is better than the one before.
Where do you think you would be if it wasn’t from ESN?
I have a huge imagination, but it’s not that huge! It’s almost like doing something else with 20% of your life. If I had to chose, I would say that I would join AIESEC ;)
Were you prepared enough, when you were taking over your first function? Did you know what were you about to experience?
I am a coward, so if I agree to something it means that I feel well prepared to pursue it. With a clear conscience I can say that neither of functions I had disappointed me in any way. Paradoxically, my biggest sink or swim was taking over my present function of Alumni coordinator, strictly because this is a completely new matter for me.
What would you call nicest memory from your cadency?
Every single time when at ESN event we come around the ESN dance. It’s rather a small detail, but it gives me a strong feeling of affiliation to an amazing organisation!
In January this year, we established a partnership with the DKMS Poland Foundation, which aims to support those in need of physical, mental or emotional support, as well as promote science and research in stem cell transplantation and public health promotion. Thanks to the DKMS Foundation, people can help people with blood cancer by registering as potential bone marrow donors. ESN Poland promotes this activity, so, in agreement and with the support of the DKMS Poland Foundation, we organised Donor Day with ESN Poland at Polish Universities. Our goal was to raise awareness and knowledge about blood cancer (leukemia). We have provided information on how we can help fight this disease and we have registered potential bone marrow donors.
Between the 8th and 11th of May, we conducted Donor Day with ESN Poland at 22 universities in Poland. Every event had its’ own leader, who was responsible for the event at each university. Also, about 150 Erasmus Student Network volunteers helped with the event. Everybody interested had the opportunity to talk about the fight against blood cancer, they could learn more and dispel any doubts about becoming a donor. During these days, it was very important for us to face stereotypes that still negatively affect people’s objective view of being a bone marrow donor. Within a few days we managed to register over a thousand potential bone marrow donors!
We want everyone to be aware that leukemia can affect any one of us, regardless of age, gender or nationality, and help the person suffering from blood cancer is invaluable. We are not indifferent to show how much we care about helping those who need support.
Below is a list of people, without which this event would not have taken place:
UP (Wrocław) - Klaudia Buraczyńska
ESN UŚ (Katowice) - Anna Gurgul
ESN UW (Warsaw) - Justyna Astriap
ESN PK (Cracow) - Janusz Mączka
ESN UwB (Białystok) - Dominika Młynek
ESN-EYE (Łódź) - Adrian Piotrowski
ESSN UE (Katowice) - Helena Janik
ESN UŁ (Łódź) - Weronika Krawczyk
ESN UKW (Bydgoszcz) - Emil Stróżyk
ESSN ASP (Cracow) - Tomek Różak
ESN Gdańsk - Monika Wiśniewska
ESN LUT (Lublin) - Joanna Samulak
ESN Łazarski (Warsaw) - Joanna Kanabus
ESN PB (Białystok) - Anna Dąbrowska
ESN PW (Warsaw) - Martyna Kania
ESN SGGW (Warszawa) - Dominika Szymańska
ESN SUT (Gliwice) - Angelika Stadnikiewicz
ESN UAM (Poznań) - Paulina Fularczyk
ESN UEK (Cracow) - Agnieszka Mach
ESN UG (Gdańsk) - Monika Spychała
ESN UKSW (Warsaw) - Julia Cendrowska
ESN UMCS (Lublin) - Michał Chmielewski
ESN AGH (Cracow) - Hubert Put
Coordinator of the national level - Monika Milewska (ESN PK Cracow)
May 3rd Constitution Day [ pol. Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja] is a Polish national and public holiday, celebrated , as the name implies, on the 3rd of May, to commemorate some very important moment in the Polish history.
On May 3, 1791, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s constitution was adopted. It was the first constitution in modern Europe and second in the world, following the American one. Despite being in effect for only a year, until the Polish- Russian War of 1972, The Constitution enactment is considered to be one of the most important achievements in the history of Poland. May 3rd was established as a national holiday just days after the Constitution was approved by Polish Parliament. It was later suspended for many years due to the country’s partitioning but was reinstituted after Poland regained its freedom in 1918. After World War II, in 1946, the holiday’s public celebration was banned once more, this time by the communist authorities, to be finally reestablished after the fall of communism in 1990 . Since then it is annually celebrated as an official statutory holiday in Poland.
Constitution Day is a part of a holiday season known as Majówka, which also includes the May 1- Labour Day holiday. It is solemnly celebrated in every major Polish city with numerous parades, exhibitions , concerts and public figure speeches taking place that day. Everything is kept in a patriotic undertone in order to highlight the importance of the celebrated events for the Polish history. The main festivities take place in Warsaw with the presence of Polish President and other important dignitaries including our Prime Minister and Members of Parliament. The official programme begins with a celebratory mass in St. John’s Archcatherdal which is followed by the presidential awards for achievements in the field of advancing Polish culture. The whole splendour is added by cannon salvos, reading of the constitution preamble and singing a patriotic song from the November Uprising : „Witaj Majowa Jutrzenko” [ ang. Welcome , May Dawn] . The festivities are crowned with a big military parade that goes around the historical center of the city. After the parade, people gather at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier [ pol. Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza] which is a monument in Warsaw, dedicated to the unknown soldiers who have given their lives for Poland.
May 3rd Parade is also held in many other Polish cities so that everybody can join the celebration and see Polish people finally united and full of national pride with hundreds of patriotic flags hanging outside of their windows and balconies.
Jan Matejko, a famous Polish painter, painted a work of art May 3rd Constitution Day. You can see the picture in the background of our cover of the text.
He is shy. He does not speak a lot but always ready for challenges. In ESN he is present prom October 2016 but the most part of our Society has chance to see his graphical talent. What is more interesting, he has found it out just a few days after joining our team.
Your ESN’s career is getting really quick. You participated in last October recruitment. Am I right?
Are you on a first year of your grade and you have already decided to join ESN?
Yes, I did not see any sense in waiting with this decision.
So tell me, how did you find out about us?
A friend of mine told me about it before I started the university, so I decided to go on the first meeting with him.
To sum up, till October you have already been in OC of Council of Local Representatives in Białystok where you were PR. And all those frozen graphics are yours?
A bit after, you joined to PR Committee. Did I forget about something?
I was also at UPGRADE, of course as a praticipant. And on National Platform at Warsaw.
Maybe you will tell me that you are also a member of ESN PB board?
(Laughing) Not yet, but I will participate in elections for PR function. He is not present in this year council but I am sure that he is needed in.
It is sure that you are a really engaged in ESN’s life! But how is it possible? When you were going to the university, did you know that you would be a member of any student organization?
No. At the beginning, I joined a few clubs to see what they are really doing. I liked ESN the most. A lot of positive people around me.
As a new member, what is your best motivation?
First of all the fact that people enjoy my work. It gives me a motivation for further work.
And... Are you studing something related to graphics?
Not really... I am studding Computer Sciences. Anyway, I wish to make the progress in this branch also. For a while I was thinking about the change of my studies to something more relateg with graphical projects.
So what is your next ESN goal? Maybe ComCom? ;)
Not now. I will participate in local elections for PR function, and after that, we will see.
Looking forward from October, what has ESN gave you already?
Hmm.. A lot of contacts and friendships for ages, and of course experiences. I have learned how to create partnership offers but first of all how to do the graphics using Photoshop because I have never do that before ESN.
Is there any one in your local section, who learn you how to Photoshop?
No, I am self-taught. I have learneg it via YouTube.
So how the idea of doing the grafics by you was born if you have never do them before?
It was the closest thing to the topic, I’m acctually in. I like drawing, painting, creating. It was my own decision to join PR Committee.
What do you like the most in our Society?
I do not want to repeat but I think those are people, the organization system and all what you can learn in here.
Interwiev: Izabela Szczerba
Trad: Emily Moazk
Full of traditions, the most important Christan Holiday, colorful and of course, days we enjoy delicious food in the past used to be the most awaited ones. After 40 days of fasting finally there’s time for joy and happiness. Altough, customs and religious traditions of Easter vary among countries, some of them are the same. especially those related to the Holy Week.
The most popular ones – Easter Monday, Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs – are only a small part of Easter traditions. A few days or even weeks before there’s time for springtime cleaning. In a past people were cleaning their houses as well as make them souls pure. They wanted to be clean right before Palm Sunday to start Holy Week without any sins.
Easter Saturday/Good Saturday, one day before the Resurrection, is the day of blessing Easter food. Every region in Poland has their own custom of what to put inside Easter Basket, but the most important are eggs, bread, salt, sausage and, of course, Easter lamb. Blessed Easter food is to be eaten during breakfast on Easter Sunday.
An egg – one of the most important symbols of Easter – the symbol of life. Eggs are not only a food – it’s also a decoration of Easter table. The easiest way to dye eggs is to boil them in a water with onion peelings or spinach. The tradition says that people suppose to share blessed eggs during Sunday’s breakfast.
The most joyful and important day – Easter Sunday – starts at dawn. People are going to the church to attend to Easter mass. After mass there’s right time to eat Easter breakfast – full of food (the most important – ham, sausages, eggs). After fasting since Friday, it’s the best breakfast during the year! The table has to be covered with white tablecloth and decorated by boxwood. Easter in Poland is not really about gifts, but kids still have an opportunity to get some small presents. They have to find small packages left by Easter Bunny.
At the end of Easter, there’s the most popular day/ tradition in Poland – Wet Monday. The day when everybody’s wet, but the tradition says that only girls are supposed to be. The more soaked with water girl, the faster she supposed to get married.
During Easter the nature is going back to life after winter, days are more sunny and it’s getting warmer. It all makes Easter the most coloful and traditional time of the year. It’s a time when catholic’s are thinking about Jesus’ ressurection and after Easter Sunday they’re happy, because Jesus is alive! But we can’t forget that Easter, as every time of Holiday, is the time for our families, so we supposed to spend this time together and avoid those moments which ruins joyful Holiday’s atmosphere.
Almost every ESNer knows him well, it’s because he is a Vice President of ESN PL. Thanks to that he also met plenty of interesting people. But how did it happen that Szymon decided to take up a position which made him experience ESN from a totally different perspective ? Did he use to dream about it for a long time or was it just a spontaneous decision?
A decision to become a Vice President of such a big organisation as ESN Poland couldn’t be made just overnight. Tell us then, what convinced you to run for a Board Member position?
In my case, the situation was not that clear at the beginning. During the whole year before taking up the position I was not very active on the national level. I was mainly busy with my work and studies. In fact, my appearance as a presidium member during the National Platform ( NP) in Lublin was rather a farewell gesture towards ESN. My plan was to slowly resign from ESN committees and devote myself to writing a thesis and searching for a dream job. However, as it turned out later, it is not that easy to say goodbye to ESN.
During the National Platform there was no candidate for the Vice President function which surprised me a lot since in my opinion it is one of the most attractive position. That was the time when I first considered myself as a potential candidate and this though developed gradually in my head till NWZD ( Special General Delegates’ Meeting) which was held in Warsaw.
Weren’t you afraid that the Board that was incomplete after the NP might have encountered some executive functioning issues?
No, I wasn’t. I knew already who I was going to work with and that knowledge encouraged me even more to run for the position.
From the time perspective, how would you evaluate your decision? Did your expectations meet reality or did you encounter any unforeseen difficulties?
To be honest, I expected the first weeks to be really tough and was simply afraid of that. In fact, it occurred to be not that bad. It’s not like everything lands on your hands all at once and you are left alone with it. You are surrounded by people who are always willing to help you, give you a good advice or simply show how the things work. After all, summer time is not very demanding when it comes to ESNer work so that you can smoothly come in terms with the upcoming responsibilities.
At the end of each cadence the outgoing Board Members are usually asked whether they would go for it one more time. To answer the question, yes I would! The reason why is that being a Vice President of ESN PL turned out to be an incredible adventure which I strongly recommend to everybody!
Did you talk to somebody before making a final decision ? If yes, who was that?
You know..I was rather encouraged by others to run in the elections. However, I tried to asked for an advice people more experienced in ESN than I was, people who I was good friends with. I just needed to feel more confident with myself and the fact that many people believed in me gave me the most strength.
Did you receive a positive feedback? Or maybe it happened to bring you any doubts?
Not really. I mean, the biggest doubt was the fact that nobody wanted to run for the position at the beginning. So that, I was asking myself whether they were encouraging me only because somebody had perform the function or because I was actually a good candidate( laughing). In general, to whoever I turned asking for an advice I always received 100% of support.
I’m sure that many people would like to know how your life changed after you became a Vice President. Or maybe the changes were not that significant?
First of all, you need to realize that when you work for ESN especially at such an important position, your life gets somehow subordinated to that. There are deadlines and duties that cannot be ignored, sometimes even regardless of holidays. In my case, that was the reason why I decided to quit my job. I was simply not able to combine it with university due to the lack of time. The things I’ve mentioned above could be perceived as a negative aspect of my function however I don’t see it this way.
When it comes to the positive side, it would be definitely an opportunity to meet a bunch of great people , opportunity to travel. Plus, you can learn a lot and I’m talking not only about knowledge that comes from the formal duties. You learn also some useful stuff that is related to PR, IT , law or Higher Education policy. It expands your horizons. Then, come good organizational skills and ability to cooperate with others which is what you have to learn. Another thing is that you will be expected to make decisions which are not always that easy. Especially when opinions are divided within the group and you have to reach a consensus.
What did you gain from being a Vice President of ESN PL?
I would say.. self confidence. If you asked me whether I’d like to run for this position, as far as last year I would say “no way” without a consideration. Why? Because I had certain plans, I knew what to do with my life and the Board - it was something out of reach for me. As it occurred, I was wrong. ESN may not be a big corporation however it definitely is a huge and significant student organisation which gives plenty of benefits for its volunteers. Last but not least, you can learn a lot about yourself. As I’ve mentioned already ESN gave me a boost of confidence and made me believe in myself.
Are you planning to go further in your ESN career or slowly leave the stage?
I was a member of ESN Network Committee for two years which I can call a very inspiring and productive time. Right now I’m already an Alumnus of the Committee. When it comes to ESN International I don’t see any possible development paths for myself either. I mean there are plenty of them, but the ones directly related to my professional career plans are slowly coming to an end. I think I’d rather offer my good advice and helping hand to ESN community.
Besides volunteering in ESN, what are the things Szymon Semper likes to do in life?
I like staying awake till late hours and then sleep a lot. I like watching Italian, French or English movies in small, noncommercial cinemas. And I love my studies! ( laughing) It is because they deal with and are focused on people who are my another passion, by the way. To the point that sometimes I even listen to some random conversations in the public transport. I enjoy good craft beers, long walks and lying on the grass beside the Vistula River. I also like exploring old tenements, especially the ones that are forbidden to enter ( laughing). And Italy! That country fascinates me and I’d love to find a job and live there for some time. I don’t think I have any special talents. I’d rather admire other people’s work than create things myself. However, what I find pleasurable is writing, academic writing.
Are you trying to say that writing a Bachelor Thesis was kind of a pleasure for you?
At some point, yes. Maybe it’s because of the fact that I like building long and complex sentences.
Most young people do not realise the importance of volunteering in different types of student organisations such as ESN. Considering those additional activities as a waste of time, they simply don’t see any benefits that may arise from it. However, there are some people - the lucky ones- who personally experienced all the goods and blessings ESN can give to a person and how useful it could become in your everyday & professional life.
Meet one of them- Szymon Brylski, a guy who went through all the steps of ESN career ladder.
If you could go back in time 5 years, would you still decide to join ESN?
Wow, I didn’t realise It’s been already 5 years! Thanks for the reminder! Yes, definitely yes. I can’t think of any other option. ESN had a huge influence on my life and if I were to choose again, I would still follow the same path. It’s all about amazing people, countless travels and international environment. Not to mention loads of great experience !
So then, what have you learnt as a volunteer in the student organisation?
I guess it would be easier to point out things that I haven’t learnt <blink>. Well, starting from the time management and project management skills, through self-confidence boost and some very precious features - humility and respect to other people. I have also enhanced my team management skills and learnt the rules of business networking. Finally, thanks to ESN I took my first steps into Photoshop and video making world. You just need to keep in mind that there are people standing behind those 3 letters who create the core of the organisation. The abbreviation itself didn’t give me as much as the people did.
How about the soft skills you’ve gained? ( which are by the way on high demand nowadays) They tend to be pretty useful, not only in your career life.
First (and in fact a crucial one) that comes to my mind is good self presentation skill which I find extremely important in my career life. Multiple public appearance I’ve made during different organisation meetings and gatherings enhanced my communication skills, taught me how to interact with public and how to control the course of debate. Thanks to that I was able to get every job I’ve applied for and managed to gain new clients for every company I’ve worked for.
Secondly, I would say diplomatic skills and the ability to reach a compromise. Some of my friends will not agree with the last one but it is only because they’ve reached a compromise unconsciously and I am a good diplomat ( laughing).
You have mentioned your friends. As we already know, ESN puts main focus on the personal development and mastering your skills but how about friendship? Is it also present behind the ESN wall?
Definitely, ESN is based on that. As you’ve noticed yourself, years are passing by but friends stay the same. As long as our everyday duties allow, we try to meet with the old ESNers during the football match or billard games. We are also planning to gather a bigger group and spend the “Majowka” holidays together.
Beside the volunteering sphere and spending time together , can you also count on yourselves when it comes to troubles?
Of course we can! A couple of months ago, I’ve had some serious problems at work due to a conference that was about to take place in Poland. Our company was serving one of the biggest banks in Europe and it got super complicated! There was a point when I needed animmediate help from several cities in Poland at the same time. If it wasn’t for my ESN friends, our company could have lost a huge loads of money. Only a few calls and everything was fixed out. Non-profit, because we are from ESN. I will never forget what my friends have done for me and they can always count on me as well. This is basically how ESN works.
You’ve talked about multiple skills and values gained during your ESN career. Now, If I were to ask you about 1-2 things that you are particularly grateful to the Organisation for.. what would it be?
I would say: friendship and career. Both things I’ve mentioned already but it is important to emphasize them. If it wasn’t for ESN, I would probably be a regular UJ graduate with a couple of good friends and lack of better perspectives. Why so harsh? It’s because hundreds( or even thousands) of people may graduate from the same major on more than one university , in more than one city at the same time. There is nothing special that they can be distinguished for. ESN, as any other student organisation opens your eyes, changes your perspectives and gives you a great opportunity to step out at the beginning of your professional career.
Each of us could be as sweet and delicious as a cake might be but it is always the cake with a cherry on its top that is chosen by employers.
I totally agree with the things you said! If I wasn’t already an ESN member, I would definitely recruit myself to the closest ESN section after hearing your story ;) However, as you probably know, it is not easy to convince everybody to join and actively participate in our organisation. How would you motivate some potential ESN candidate to become one of us?
I would tell him/her the story of myself or the story of my friends. Each of us started as a Newbie. We were involved in different teams or activities, searching for our own way among the various ESN paths . In fact, the path we decided to follow at that times and choices we made somehow shaped our future , not only ESN future but also our personal and professional life. I believe that everybody has it’s own path to follow. You just need to come and discover the right one.
Thank you very much for the interview and we wish you lots of success in your (Post)ESN career!
Interviewed by: Izabela Szczerba
Here comes the 1st of April, also known as April Fools’ Day. By custom, a lot of people make jokes, try to cheat others or make other people believe in something which is not true at this day. It is very popular in a lot of countries in the world.
It is very little known where this tradition actually comes from. It is said that it gained popularity in mediaeval times and probably is based on ancient Rome customs. But it is also said that the tradition was firstly started in France during the reform of the calendar when the 1st day of the New Year was changed from the 1st of April or other dates depending on the region to the 1st of January. But some people didn’t believe it or didn’t hear of it, that’s why they kept celebrating the New Year on the 1st of April. As a result, other people were making fun of them. This tradition came to Poland from the West Europe in XVI century.
One of the very popular jokes of this day is putting salt instead of sugar to a sugar bowl. Another one is changing the time on clocks at home, waking up your flatmates and telling them they are late to school or work. You can also write a funny text on a piece of paper and then discreetly stick it on your friend’s back. But it is important to have a common sense while making this king of jokes because not everyone has the same sense of humour as we do ;)
21th March is the first day of spring. Do you know how we celebrate it in Poland?
For sure more people prefer spring to winter. Finally days are longer, the weather is nicer and the nature awakens. Therefore this day (the 20th or the 21th of March) has been celebrated for ages.
In Poland this day is also called Truant’s Day. It means that students don’t go to school, they just skip their classes. However, it seems that this tradition is diminishing. The tradition of drowning a straw doll called Marzanna is still popular though, especially among pupils and pre-schoolers. Marzanna is dressed in old clothes, burned and thrown into a river. It symbolizes the end of winter and the beginning of spring. This tradition dates back to early Slavic times when pagan rituals were performed. It was noisily celebrated and required a lot of preparation. Nowadays, it just has a symbolic meaning.
In the old times, people were also painting eggs (which are a symbol of new life) because of the 1st day of spring. Also, they were pouring water on each other because it meant to be good for their health. Those traditions were taken over by Christians and in this way they have become Easter ones.
Author: Weronika Kisiel
It doesn’t matter if you have the most professional equipment there is or just the camera in your phone. It’s what’s on the other side of the lenses and how you decide to capture it that counts. With a camera in your hand you can not only seize a single moment in time, you can also learn something new about the world surrounding you, about yourself, you can spread your vision, release it into the world. You can discover yourself and discover Europe.
That’s how the idea for Discover Europe was born. The initial intent was to establish a multicultural connection, a dialogue between students from different parts of the Old Continent, so that they can exchange ideas and inspiration. To facilitate understanding and mutual respect. To show each other the various aspects of our shared home. To get a better understanding of Europe and its people in current times. Photography is precisely what enables young Europeans to show what they care about and what interests them nowadays. In 2013 the European Parliament recognized those values and awarded Discover Europe with second prize in the European Charlmange Contest for non-profit organizations.
The whole idea started small and grew over the years into the form it has today. Just during the last edition students entered 3673 photos into the contest, varying from ones depicting serious topics affecting our continent at that time, such as refugees to uplifting shots from their journeys. Throughout the years the aim of DE hasn’t changed, it’s still concentrated on connecting students from all over Europe, especially now, when atmosphere of division is surrounding us.
Many companies and foundations have given their support to Discover Europe inspired by the idea behind it. For several years now FRSE, a foundation that has been improving Polish education since 1993, has helped the organization in bringing the vision of the contest to life. A close cooperation was also created between DE and Student Travel, as both share similar values and focus on the same group – students. The travel agency organizes trips all over Europe and to other destinations around the world. One of the prizes in the contest are vouchers from them. This edition has yet another very special partner – ASUS. The multinational computer hardware and electronics company engaged themselves tremendously by creating their own category. The rewards for the top places will come from them.
The conduct of the contest itself is fairly simple. Up to six photographs can be submitted into four categories: Citizen of Europe, which is centred around the residents of Europe; Postcard from Europe, which allows people to share places close to their hearts; Surprise me, Europe, a category committed to extraordinary and surprising moments. The last one, Incredible is now, was created by ASUS and focuses on the elusive beauty, which can be captured by a camera in one’s phone. A photo can be submitted both into one of the first three categories as well as to the last one. While filling the form there is a “taken with a phone” box that needs to be checked. There are two stages of the contest. First the regional stage and then central. Ten percent of the images send to the regional stage are accepted into the central stage. Additionally, three pictures from each category are appointed and will be rewarded during the regional galas. The central stage ends with a big gala where three photos from each category are awarded and a vernissage of the winning photos takes place. Photos send from abroad take part only in the central stage.
Not only is the contest an opportunity to win various awards, but also to show a piece of yourself and get a far better understanding of other young people with whom we share one home – Europe. The need for unity is now stronger than ever and that is something that Discover Europe tries, quite successfully for years, to accomplish. Together we can do so much more than apart.
For more info visit: http://discovereurope.esn.pl
Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is an international student organization. Currently, there are more than 13 500 students in 526 local sections in 40 countries doing their volunteering job there. But what actually makes them join it? I will try to answer this question sharing my point of view.
First of all, my studies are not enough for me. I was just bored with attending my classes and studying. I wanted to do something more. Apart from that, we just gain some theoretical skills while studying, whereas, we can acquire some practical ones while volunteering in ESN which may turn out to be invaluable in our future life. One of those is teamwork. It is a vital thing in ESN. We would not be able to organise any events if we did not cooperate effectively in a team. Precisely event organisation is the next thing which made me join ESN. It is because they are very often organised and, as a result, it is possible to become better and better at it, learn from our mistakes and draw conclusions. Except from that I can improve my time management skills as I need to combine my studies with volunteering in ESN. Also, we can learn responsibility there as we have some tasks to do. However, I would like to point out that if something goes wrong, no one will be shouting at us and we can always ask someone to help us so that the situation could be improved. It is important to inform about it early enough though. It is also a part of teamwork. In this way we also learn how to solve some problems. The next reason is that I can use foreign languages, especially English, and meet foreign people on a daily basis. Also, I can take part in a different kind of workshops. Moreover, it is possible to improve leadership skills by being a coordinator of a team or a project or a board member. Furthermore, we can do the volunteering job on the national or even international level.
What is more, for sure volunteering in ESN will be a plus on my CV. In this way it will be much easier to get a nice internship or a nice job, even abroad, as every additional activity during your studies will increase your chances. However, in my opinion, the most important reason why I joined ESN is personal development which is made by all the factors mentioned above. For sure, it is something unique, therefore, we encourage you to join ESN
Author: Weronika Kisiel
Love letters, flowers, candles, red hearts and chocolates. These are well-known symbols of Valentine's Day. 14th of February is traditionally associated with love, romance, appreciation and friendship. Although is not a public holiday in any country Valentine's Day is worldwide known and celebrated. Also in Poland lovers exchange gifts and express their love. But, what are the origins of the holiday that we celebrate?
According to the legends, we celebrate Valentine's Day as a commemoration to Saint Valentine, a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Valentine was helping persecuted Christians to escape from Roman's prisons. In another version of the legend, Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriages for young men, claiming that single men are better soldiers than those with wives and families. Priest Valentine saw this as an injustice and continued to perform marriages for young lovers. When this was discovered, the priest has been imprisoned and finally sentenced to death. But the story does not end here, during his imprisonment Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer from blindness. According to the legend, she was also the first recipient of the written “valentine” card. Short before his burial (14th of February) Valentine fell in love with her and wrote her a love letter. I guess, you already know how did he sign it. “From your Valentine”.
Today Valentine's Day is worldwide celebrated and only Christmas is a more popular holiday in terms of card-sending. Nowadays, however, not only couples celebrate Valentine's Day. More and more people decide to give presents to their families and friends to show they care and simply express their love. Regardless whether you celebrate this day or not, you can learn one thing from the story of Saint Valentine. Love your loved ones and not only on this particular day. Every day.
Imagine a situation: you are in a huge city, you want to get to a hotel and after that, to the University. You do not know the way and do not know the language of the local inhabitants. This is a dreadful situation, isn’t it?
But we have a solution - Polish Lessons! This time we present you the unit “Directions”.
kierunek - direction
gdzie jest…? - where is…?
gdzie jest hotel? - where is a hotel?
gdzie jest dobry hotel? - where is a good hotel?
którędy? - what way?
którędy na uczelnię? - Which way to the University?
skręć - turn
skręć w prawo - turn right
skręć w lewo - turn left
po lewej jest twój hotel - there is your hotel on the left
idź - go
idź na przód - go ahead/go straight
zawróć - double back
skręć w prawo na skrzyżowaniu - turn right at the crossroads
idź dalej - keep going
tam będzie... – there will be…
tam będzie duży budynek - there will be a huge building
tam będzie Twoja uczelnia - there will be your University
przed tobą - straight ahead of you
With Polish Lessons your nightmare is over :)
Stay tuned and study Polish!