How volunteering abroad adds value to student exchanges
Curious how other students experienced volunteering on an exchange? Not sure how this would take place in practice? We collected some testimonies from students who invested their time to take part in volunteering actions during their exchange period.
The campaign "Leave your mark, volunteer on exchange" points out the different benefits the Erasmus+ programme can have on exchange students as well as on local communities. The focal point is the social impact of the Erasmus+ programme, highlighting benefits not directly related to a persons academics progress or employability opportunities. The indirect aim of the Erasmus programme is to create a new Generation of Europeans that have a better mutual understanding and intercultural awareness of citizens with a different background.
With more than 4.4 million higher education students have taken part in the Erasmus+ programme, it is one of the most successful initiatives of the European Union. The Erasmus+ programme has been developed to create a young generation whose cultural identity transcends traditional cultural divisions, who carry memories and values within themselves that originate from all corners of the European continent.
“We always talk about the importance of volunteering and I am happy to have taken a step forward and actually tried it on my own! It was fun and surprisingly easy to spend some time with locals, especially seeing there was a team of people involved and everyone believed in the importance of what we were trying to do. I felt more present, volunteering reminds me of the immediate issues I can address and shifts my focus from the big, daring dreams to the small, daily steps I can take to make the dream come true.” - Timka
“The volunteering was the most exciting part of my exchange year, because it gave me the chance to meet and interact with interesting people from different generations and cultures. I felt that I was easily integrated into the community. It offered me many new impressions on the cultural and social system in France, and I was able to improve my social skills. All of these experiences will help me in my future career as a teacher.” - Robin
"With volunteering, the wonder is right behind the corner. The pupils in Thessaloniki and their teachers supported us to make the activities lovely engaging because those kids made the difference: they were the embodiment of curiosity! Even after years of volunteering, you understand why you're still in love with it, and reaffirms what you always knew, but thanks to ESN is everyday clearer: Europe is our continent which cultivates hopes and peace, and there is much more room for cultural understanding than hate and division." - Alberto
Sanna from Finland, Erasmus in Vienna Follow the personal story of Sanna from Finland during her Erasmus in Vienna where she volunteers during English and History classes in a local high school where she practices English and teaches the local students history and geography. The visits allowed her to put her teacher education into practice and feel more integrated into the local culture.
Celine from Belgium, Erasmus in Vienna Follow the personal experience of Celine from Belgium during her Erasmus in Vienna where she volunteers during sports classes in a local school.
In the framework of the SocialErasmus+ project, with a focus on the learning experience of international students during their volunteering activity and internationalisation at home for local students, Erasmus students have opportunities to hold classes on various topics at local schools during Erasmus in Schools visits. Through their engagement, students enrich their curricula, gain competences and learn how one can contribute to the improvement of society as European citizens.
The Erasmus Student Network gathers more than 19,100 international students per year who engage with more than 40,800 members of their local communities with the help of 2,400 ESN volunteer coordinators. Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is the biggest student association in Europe. Present at over 1000 Higher Education Institutions, it unites over 500 local associations in 39 countries. More than 15,000 volunteers take care of international colleagues under the motto “Students helping students”. ESN works for the creation of a more mobile and flexible education environment by supporting and developing the student exchange from different levels and providing an intercultural experience.