As part of Student Volunteer Week 2020, we will be shining a light on student volunteers and student groups! Our first article of the week is about Stephen Kingdon, president of the Erasmus Student Network. His volunteering has allowed him to travel and bring together hundreds of international students! Find out about his volunteering journey so far…
What does your society do?
The Erasmus Student Network is the largest non-profit student organisation in the whole of Europe with around 250 universities, although as of this year we are expanding outside of those borders with new sections in Albania and the Ukraine.
Why do you volunteer?
My life as an international student started with an exchange over 3 years ago to Norway and like many I fell in love with that feeling, and wanted to continue being involved when I came back. Since then I have used that experience to work in 7 countries before returning to Aberystwyth. The people I have met in ESN in particular, who are all student organisers from our committee right to the national board are an amazing and enthusiastic bunch who I absolutely adore.
What is your best feel good moment as a volunteer?
My proudest moment so far is perhaps taking part in the purple postbox campaign with the Students’ Union to send over 500 signatures to parliament to try and help secure the future of international student exchanges. Participating in an open debate with key university and political figures was a particular highlight. I am also looking forward to hosting our National Platform next month where we will bring 80 ESNers from around the UK for a conference and hopefully volunteering with Aldeas de Pas in June to study humanitarian aid in South America.
What benefits have you gained from volunteering?
I started student life as an incredibly shy person, not really joining any societies in my first year or exploring social circles outside of my flat. Four years later, my position as president alone has seen me deliver addresses to over 500 students at once and lead over 70 students on our trip to Edinburgh. That change has come as part of a long process in building confidence that shows exactly the 'soft skills' that volunteering and working internationally develop which are vital to the workplace. Now I feel as though I can work with a purpose which academic study alone would not have provided me with. This is why I would recommend that challenge to anyone.
Upcoming ESN Event Include:
After our successful trip to Edinburgh it looks as though we will be providing a trip of several hundred students again to Amsterdam. We also have trips available through CityLifeUK to Iceland and hope to have many more big parties. In February, we will welcome back our exchange students including another 150 fresh faces, so hope to continue to use that to help language students develop their skills in their studies. For One World Week we are looking to host an international film screening, so keep your eye out for our logo and Facebook page to see what we get up to as all are welcome.
Current Committee: Stephen Kingdon, Gosia Kupiec, Meg Bennett, Kelly Gomes, Roma Fleischer, Viola Szucs, Julia Remiszewskq, Lleucu Hâf, Bethan Davies, Zuza Komosinska