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A Crash Course In Erasmus Students And Volunteering
December 31, 1969
The Erasmus Programme, a.k.a. the European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, named after the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, is a higher education program and agreement adopted by the European Commission in 1987 to allow university student exchanges throughout member countries in Europe.
Since its inception, the Erasmus Programme has allowed over two million students to study abroad in 33 member countries. Students do not have to pay additional fees or tuition in their host institution; they are encouraged to apply for grants to assist in their cost of living, and can also seek employment while studying.
In order to be eligible to be an Erasmus student, you must be studying for a degree at a higher education institution in Europe and have already completed your first year of studies, having proved you are capable of maintaining adequate grades or notes. You can also choose to participate in an internship experience if desired. University professors are also given free mobility throughout member countries as well, increasing the amount of cultural exchange throughout Europe.
Erasmus students and professors don’t just study and intern while abroad—many of them take part in volunteer projects as well. Most students who choose to volunteer during their time abroad find information and fellow volunteers through the Erasmus Student Network—one of the largest student associations in Europe—that encompasses all Erasmus countries. The Erasmus Student Network assists students in expressing their values of active citizenship while also becoming integrated into their host community and with other Erasmus students in the area.
One of the Erasmus Student Network’s volunteer programs, Social Erasmus, is an international project founded in 2008 in Poland as a way for international students to get involved in their communities while learning about the culture and education systems of their host countries.
A new, popular project of Social Erasmus involves Erasmus students giving lessons to children about their own country and culture, allowing for cultural exchange with perhaps the most important group of people in a country—youth. The “European lesson” is highly informative as well as a place for students to share their volunteer experiences with one another and with children.
Social Erasmus also takes the lead in many other projects and events for international students to volunteer their time. For example, you can choose to visit children’s homes to assist them in learning foreign languages—particularly other European languages that could further their academic and professional careers, known as International Santa Claus.
Other projects include blood drives, charitable markets, visits to children’s hospitals, holding football (soccer) tournaments for children’s homes, providing and personally giving holiday gifts to children in homes, hosting organic and environmental conservation events, such as holding barbeques and picking up trash, planting trees, and more! Social Erasmus allows students a multitude of opportunities for long-term projects or one-time events all around Europe!
On top of Social Erasmus, a high percentage of Erasmus students also complete other types of volunteer work while in their new community, whether through assisting at the local animal shelter or wrapping and preparing fair trade items for shipment around the world, making them yet another great group of young people making a difference around the world!
For more information on Social Erasmus, check out: http://socialerasmus.esn.org.
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.