For June’s Section in the Spotlight, “quality is the key word”. That is how this month’s winner began their application for this month’s award, and it was clear throughout their application that the section lives up to this declaration. This month we celebrate with a section that has been improving in quality since its creation, and this year they also celebrate their 10-year anniversary. 

ESN UL has a board consisting of 6 members and the section is organised through project coordinators as well as working groups. Meeting regularly is an integral part of ESN UL’s success and is the time to evaluate and assess their events in order to make them even better! One aspect that makes ESN UL unique, and contributes hugely to the quality of the section is the newly initiated motivation system. Those members who are the most active are rewarded for their efforts with a visit to ESN UL’s new partner section in the Czech Republic.

ESN UL also carries their level of quality to the international and national levels. The section has members who participate on both levels, for example, the current president of ESN Poland hails from ESN UL. Active members on the international level include an intern in the ESN house, the Chair of Interkom (committee responsible for the transmission of information from the international level to the national level) as well as other members of this committee. ESN UL makes a conscious effort to promote involvement in the international level by regularly informing their section members about open calls and by sending members to ESN meetings.

In addition to this involvement from ESN UL’s members, the section has had a fruitful year in the field of international cooperation. The section has initiated an official cooperation with ESN Cosmo Lyon and ESN VSTE.

For ESN UL, it is really important to demonstrate that ESN is not just about parties. Like other sections they have a Tandem language programme as well as the mentor system, but they also are really involved in the SocialErasmus project. Since January, the section has participated in Erasmus in Schools, Erasmus forest, they have given food to animal shelters and are now preparing for Erasmus Hall. The section does everything they can to involve international students. ESN UL’s event group organises projects such as city games, photowalks and visits to museums.

However, ESN UL takes international student involvement a step further. They encourage the international students to attend ESN meetings and also to help in the organisation of events. ESN UL recognises that the group who best understands the needs of Erasmus are, of course, the Erasmus students. Erasmus students at ESN UL often decide to join sections in their home cities and there are now two students who have returned to Łódź for a full degree and to join the section full time!

Alongside these events and projects is ESN UL’s flagship project of the year which took place very recently: ExchangeAbility Week (8th-11th May 2014). It was the first edition of the event, and the goal was the integrate Erasmus students and students with disabilities in order to highlight problems and barriers that such students have to face on a daily basis. The week consisted of 4 events. ESN UL hosted a dinner in the dark to demonstrate the challenge of not being able to see. Another event focused on those who are deaf an/or mute and involved two deaf students joining the event to explain some of the challenges they face. These two students also set up a small sign language workshop for the section members. The third day of the week focused on challenges within sport for those with disabilities, and members had the opportunity to play ball games in wheelchairs to try to better understand these problems.

It was not only this fantastic and creative event that earned ESN UL the award of Section in the Spotlight, but the quality of all the work the section does throughout the year. They strive to be creative and really understand the goals of ESN as a whole, which they try to reflect in their practices and events. This is what it means to be a great section: one that focuses on the needs of the section, of its members and of its international students, but that always keeps the bigger picture in mind.