Portugal was awarded with fourteen international prizes by Erasmus Student Network 2016/2017. The meeting which, annually, brings together the 500 Erasmus sections, happened in Berlin and Portugal was the most prize awarded country.
From the 20th to the 23rd of April occurred in Berlin, Germany, the Annual General Meeting (AGM) an event organized every year by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). Representing in practice the 'Erasmus generation', the AGM is the largest European conference of students focusing on the theme of mobility, and this year had more than 750 young volunteers present. It is also during AGM that the ESN Star Awards are awarded, prizes that distinguish the best projects, activities, sections and countries. The vote is taken by the International Committee consisting of ESN members of several countries.
In this year's event, Portugal won fourteen prizes, with the third place on the STARland (best country), as well as second and third places in STARlight, with ESN Lisboa and ESN Minho as best sections, respectively. The Portuguese were the ones who brought most prizes home:
• 3rd place STARland (best country);
• 2nd place gadgetSTAR (best gadget);
• 3rd place campaignSTAR (best communication campaign: #PortugalFriends).
• 3rd place webSTAR (best website)
• 2nd place movieSTAR (best video)
• 1st place ESNcardSTAR (best promotion and use of ESN membership card)
• 2nd place STARlight (best local section)
• 2nd place buddySTAR (best event based on cooperation among local and exchange students)
• 2nd place ESNcardSTAR (best promotion and use of ESN membership card)
• 2nd place educationSTAR (best campaign/advocacy action in the field of mobility (youth/student rights), personal and/or professional development or recognition of volunteering
• 2nd place ESNshowcaseSTAR (best initiative within the international network)
• 3rd place eventSTAR (best international event: Eduk8 Starter Madeira)
• 3rd place STARlight (best local section)
• 3rd place inclusionSTAR (best inclusion activity of students with disabilities)
Alexandra Bigotte de Almeida, Communication Manager of ESN Portugal, was present at AGM Germany, in Berlin, and describes the awarding of the prizes as "a moment of great emotion and union of all the Portuguese present at the event and of those who accompanied via online, who did not spare the messages of support and euphoria."
ESN Portugal volunteers did not expect to receive so many distinctions, since in the past year they had already won eight awards. However, this year the work of young volunteers was again acknowledged at the international level.
For Alexandra, "these awards are the result of an increasingly strong organization in which the contribution of each of the volunteers of the 14 Portuguese sections dictates the success we have as ESN Portugal network".
In the year in which the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus Program is celebrated, the Communication Manager points out that:
"These distinctions are important and motivate us to do more and better, but it is in the most diverse forms of appreciation of the students who choose our country to do Erasmus, that we truly perceive the volunteer work we do."
The AGM happens once a year and lasts about four days. The annual event consists of plenary sessions, where elections are held for the International Board of ESN, a Flag Parade, a Euro Dinner and, finally, the Gala. It is in this formal event that the
Annual awards are given.
The tradition of trophy delivery began in France, at AGM 2008. In total, this year there were 20 categories, being assigned first, second and third place in each.
It was also at this year's event that ESN Portugal saw one of its volunteers be elected for the International Board. From ESN Minho, João Pinto, current President of the Fiscal Council of ESN Portugal, Vice-President 2014/15 and National Representative 2015/16 was chosen by more than 500 sections of the international ESN network to be President of ESN AISBL in the year 2017/18.