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Updated: 1 hour 34 min ago

Meet the Section in the Spotlight for January - ESN Pisa

Tue, 05/03/2024 - 21:36
Tuesday, 5 March, 2024 - 20:36

Let’s play a game of truth or dare, shall we?

DARE: Try to ask any volunteer of ESN Pisa the following question: “What does ESN mean to you?”

We bet you that the majority of them if not all, will reply: “ESN is a family”. Which is the TRUTH. This is actually the best way in which we could describe ESN Pisa: a local association that keeps recruiting new people every year, adding volunteer after volunteer, somehow still managing to keep the focus of its work on the most important thing ever: the people.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

ESN Pisa is now almost 24 years old: it was founded in late October of 2000. In the following years, it kept growing and improving, developing relationships with other local and national non-profit associations on the more-than-solid basis of shared values and interests.

The association now counts 97 volunteers, divided into 59 active members, 26 newbies and 12 alumni, for more than 650 Erasmus students. At the beginning of their experience in ESN Pisa, volunteers can choose to join two of the five committees of the association: Communication, Causes, Trips, Sport, Night and Local Events. The organisation of every single committee is strongly linked to that of the others: one of the main aspirations of ESN Pisa is that every volunteer should be encouraged to engage in the largest possible variety of events if they want to so that a) they can have the full ESN experience, and b) they can discover their own strengths and work on their weak points, in this volunteering project that honestly feels just like growing up.

 

“The world is small, but Pisa is smaller and full of people from any corner. So the opportunities are limitless”, - Gabriele Nerucci, President of ESN Pisa

 

"WE ARE A FAMILY"

This obviously leads to lots of teambuilding moments for the volunteers, which can also lead to the beginning of everlasting, deep, sincere, beautiful friendships. And this is, actually, one of the (if not the main) strengths of this section: as the current Communication Manager Chiara Cona says, “We are actually like a family: regardless of who we are, the faculty we’re in, our job, what we are doing in our real lives, we truly care about each other, and we help each other every step of the way.”

This seems to perfectly embody the concept of “network”, that magic word that each one of us has been using daily since joining ESN, and that can actually be the passepartout to countless opportunities.


 

1, 2, 3…600 FAMILY MEMBERS

This family-like ambience among the volunteers of the association is reflected in the events they organise. Every year, ESN Pisa helps hundreds and hundreds of international students and trainees who come to Pisa, thinking they will have some sort of abroad experience and leave (well, the majority of them, of course) in love with the city, with the culture, with the country and, thanks to other local ESN associations, with the other cities we have visited.

As for the relationship with these international students and trainees studying and/or working in Pisa, the main goal of ESN Pisa is to give each and every student a chance to immerse themselves fully in Italian culture. This happens not only through the discovery of Pisa, Tuscany and the rest of Italy but also by letting them engage in activities with other associations, raising awareness on topics such as environmental sustainability and social inclusion. Anything to make them feel part of the family like they are at home.

There are many highlights to these kinds of activities. Still, the all-time favourites are probably the city tours, the several afternoons at the museums, the international picnics, “EATalia” (a format in which one or more volunteers turn into chefs for one night and invite some Erasmus students to cook a typical Italian dinner together) as well as many others.

Every year, the chances to engage in activities organised by other associations, such as Legambiente and the Italian Red Cross, are countless.

 

“Honestly, we are just so cute and friendly”, - Francesco Riva, Vice-President

 

Students UNIted in diversity 

While working with these other associations, ESN Pisa also interacts with the University of Pisa and other local institutions. As of today, the relationship between the association and the university is quite solid, resulting in the promotion of ESN by the university, close cooperation for the welcome weeks and several other events throughout the years, and good yearly funding used to support future events.

There are, of course, challenges, difficult moments, slow moments and events that turn out to be unsuccessful. But this only represents a chance to analyse, learn and improve. Even if only one person recognises ESN Pisa as a home away from home, the association will have fulfilled its goal.

Written by: Emma De Rosa, ESN Pisa
Categories: ESN International