ESN Italy was officially founded on October 22nd 1994 by the members of the 7 oldest italian sections (Siena, Parma, Pavia, Milan, Trento, Bologna, Genoa) who were interested in creating a uniformity of intentions and a coordination of the activities in order to produce on a national level the same organization that operates on an international level. In these years ESN Italy has widened its network and at the moment is made of 49 sections that cover the entire national territory. The legal headquarters of the association is in Parma, in Via Università 12.
The activity of the local sections is rather homogeneous. Generally speaking, most of the sections give the incoming international students practical help in the first days on exchange. Mainly it consists of orientation services, help with housing, information about courses, explaining the academic rules and activities, as well as helping with bureaucratic problems. Once the students are settled in their new environment, the social activities begin. Sport competitions, cultural and recreational activities, language exchanges, theater, cinema and music nights are just some of the activities organized by the sections. Moreover, they also organize several trips all over Italy in order to offer the students the opportunity to visit the country in a fun and cheap way.
Most of the sections organize trips in cities where there is another ESN section present, since this is a possibility for the students to discover the country and for the members of the Network to meet members of other sections. However, they don't only organize trips to the most renowned cities, but also trips to the beach or skiing trips, according to the geographical location of the section.
The italian sections work on a volunteer basis, with around 25.000 exchange students hosted yearly in Italy. Each section is an independent association and most of them are recognized by their University, having developed a collaboration with their International Relations Office
The Italian National Platform is held 4 times in a year and it is hosted by a different local section of ESN ITALY each time. The main topics discussed during the national platforms are: Election of the new National Board, admission of new local sections, Esn Italy 's policy, projects and national and international partnerships, common problems of the local sections ( such as: fundraising, recruiment of new volunteers and cooperation with the Universities etc). Every section has the right - duty to partecipate actively at the National Platforms.
National Board, Structure and developments
On the 23rd February 2000, ESN ITALY officialy became an association, named "ESN ITALIA" which Statute is registered by a notary giving, in this way, rise to the National Platform with a legal and recognized headquarters.
The Board was initially composed of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and National Representative. In addition, the position of Vice National Representative was firstly introduced during the National Platform that took place in May 2006 and finally officially recognized in September 2006 National Platform. This position has remained active until 2013, when, during the National Platform of Lecce (July 2013) it was voted the change that has led to the birth of a new figure in the Board, namely the Web and Communication Manager (also known as Communication Manager). The first Web and Communication Manager was elected in the fifth PN of 2013, held in L'Aquila. Therefore presently the Board consists of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Web and Communication Manager and Representative National. In 2007/2008, during the National Platform of October in Parma, which was one of the most intense ever seen in Italy, they have been approved a new statute and the new implementing regulation. The major changes are the election of the new Board, which will take place every year in December. The NB (National Board) officially comes into office at the first National Platform of the year. This has solved the problem of the correspondence and the provisional closure of the budget. A new body was also introduced, called the "Board of Trustees" (sort of Advisory Board), consisting of three persons (usually former students and former members of the NB) that would oversee the National Board and the work of members the Network.
ESN Italy's greatest successes, national and international events and projects
In the last 15 years, ESN Italy has organized several interesting meetings, events and projects on both a national and international level: In spring 2001, ESN Itay took care of the organization of the first Southern European Platform (SEP) in Siena, a meeting of all the sections of southern Europe, whose main goal was to discuss and solve the common problems that these sections faced.
That same year, ESN Palermo organized the first Sunweek. This is Erasums Student Network International's summer event, which received an official recognition during the AGM in Lugo, Spain in 2001, with a huge positive feedback from the local and european institutions. One week of cultural exchange, with daily visits to the most representative sicilian locations, parties, workshops and official meetings with the authorities and institutions. The goal is to promote and valorize the island's resources from an artistic, cultural and landscaping point of view.
In April 2002, ESN Italy's first National Event took place in Assisi, a three-day long meeting which involved over 250 people, the representatives of the italian sections and several Erasmus students form all over Europe and on exchange at the time. The meeting was a wonderful experience and since then it has been a yearly occurrence. The next year, the opening cerimony included a written declaration of the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, about the importance of the Erasmus project. Since then, every year in May, one of the sections of the italian network organizes what is now the biggest Erasmus event of the year. Today we are at over 2.000 Erasmus students from all over Europe, that meet for a weekend of sun, sea, music, fun and cultural exchange.
The 2002 Cultural Medley was organized by the five sections of Milan and the Castellanza section and it took place from the 14th to the 18th November, It involved over 100 people from ESN International and ESN Italy.
In 2003, a new project was proposed and organized by ESN Cosenza: The Magellano Project (magellanoproject.com), a trip around Europe in order to make a report on ESN life. The trip started in February 2003 and the first step was the 2003 AGM held in Siena (February 27-March 2), which hosted more than 350 delegated students of the ESN International sections. The Magellano Project has been developed in collaboration with the European Commission, the European Union and other regional and national institutions. A team of 10 people and 2 drivers have traveled to 15 different countries of the European Union, introducing the amazing world of Erasmus and the work of Erasmus Student Network. The Magellano Project celebrated the publication of Travel Notes ( "Travel Notes"), a book written by the journalism team of the Project. In addition, paintings and a photo exhibition have been realized, and another book about stories, cultures and traditions of each place visited during the Megellano project was published . The final conference for the participants of the project took place in Calabria on July 21 to 27. The meeting was divided into four distinct phases: the meeting of delegates of the sections, the meeting of Rectors, the meeting of the journalist and the meeting for the promotion of the region.
In 2004, ESN Trento organized ESN Italy's first winter event: ESNow. They chose a village called Fai della Paganella which hosted 150 exchange students. The participants received a 4-day skipass and stayed in a hotel near the ski lifts. ESNow is today THE winter Erasmus event: 4 days during which the participants can ski, sunbathe and have fun all together.
Still in 2004, from April 7 to 11, during the Holy week, ESN Palermo organized the first Erasmus Olympic Games, in collaboration with CONI, the University of Palermo, the Sicily Region, the Province of Palermo, the Municipality of Palermo - Tourism, Communication and Transports Department. 300 students from Estonia, Slovenia, Poland, Switzerland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy took part in it.
In 2005, ESN Palermo organizes SEP too (October 6-9), hosting ESN section members coming from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, France, Morocco and Cyprus. Still in 2005, an ESN Italy section receives an important recognition: ESN-ASSI Parma is rewarded during the AGM in Gdansk (Poland) as Best Section of the Year, proving that Italian sections can be very productive.
Several international events took place in Italy in 2006/2007, including the Bocconi Summer Factory, event orgaized by ESN Milano Statale, with the help of AEGEE Milano and the other ESN sections from Milan (ESN Milano Cattolica and ESN Politecnico Milano), which took place from 16 until 22 July in Milan, an Teramo's CNR (14-17 September)
The year 2007 has been characterized by the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Erasmus project. Venti di Erasmus, Evento Nazionale Erasmus 2007 of Capovaticano and 20erasmus @Roma have been the events celebrated in Italy that had this anniversary as the central theme, useful occasion to reflect on the importance of te cultural exchange between young european students. Venti di Erasmus has been an event that took place at the beginning of May in Bologna and Rimini, for a total of four days of roundtables, fun, sport, sea, art, concerts, disco, meetings with the ministers, actors and comedians. It has been organized in joint venture with the Youth Ministry, the Civi Protection, and the local government instructions. ESN Bologna and ESN Rimini have been in charge of the coordination and the logistic, on behalf of ESN Italy. The event saw the participation of approximately 20000 students. 20erasmus @Roma has been organized at the end of may in Rome by ESN Roma ASE and ESN Roma Tre. The ambus was full of stands, street artists, concerts all day long. The participants have also appreciated the city tour and the ESN Van!
In 2008, the first official ESN Alumni Meeting (EAM) took place in Siena (May 30-31). More than 20 Alumni members, coming from 7 different countries (Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Czech Republic, etc.) took part in it.
However, 2008 was an important year especially because the first ICE (Incontro Culturale Erasmus) took place, in Rome, on November 7-9. Almost all the Italian sections participated, and there were therefore about 1000 people reunited in the Italian capital city, to celebrate ESN Italy's 15th birthday. The Organizational Committee organized an opening conference, with institutional representatives, and a treasure hunt, to let the participants enjoy their stay.
Still in the same year, the SWEP (South West European Platform) took place in Milan (October 23-26). The SWEP corresponded to the SEP divided into 2 events, SWEP and SEEP (South East European Platform). It would then gather delegates from Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Malta. In 2008 it was organized in Italy for the first time, specifically by the local section of Milano Statale. The event started with a city tour, which included the visit of "The last supper", the famous and enigmatic painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. The programme also included a typical Italian dinner, a Milanese-style aperitivo, an Eurodinner and a Tram Party.
ESN Reggio Calabria organized the Cultural Medley 2008 on August 21-25. The event programme included excursions to the most beautiful historical sites and beaches. ESN Turkey participated to the event in collaboration with ESN Reggio Calabria.
In 2008/2009, ESN Italy launched a national video-call contest called "Un Erasmus per viaggiare", which allowed international students to express their idea of travelling through their videos.
In 2008/2009 two big goals have been achieved: ESN Italy joins the "Forum Nazionale Giovani" (National Youth Forum), Italian member of the European Youth Forum, and on February 14 2009 ESN Italy opens its first national office in Rome.
In 2009, ESN Village took place: international students from all over Europe met up in a specific place in Italy in order to discover local culture and traditions. In this first edition, the participants were divided into couples: one played the role of a journalist, and the other played the role of the photographer, so that they could make a report of the place as perceived by the single European young guys.
In 2009, the "Erasmus on the road" project (ontheroad.esn.it) was organized by the Board with the aim of involving the Italian sections into the celebration of ESN Italy's 15th birthday. Two FIAT cars (FIAT was partner of the project), with ESN branding on, went across more or less 20 Italian cities and 27 universities, in order to promote ESN and understand the characteristics of the echange programmes in the different universities. At every leg of the tour, the hosting section organized a small ESN event, with the aim of promoting mobility among young people and strengthening the relationships with universities and potential sponsors. A photo contest preceded the event and the selected pictures were displayed in each city, showing how Italy is seen and perceived by Erasmus students. The project was backed by the Ministry of Youth, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the University of Roma La Sapienza and the University of Roma Tre. The ESN Italy Guide, an output of the Erasmus On The Road project, contains practical information for international students on ESN sections in Italy, the experiences of former students about their exchange within the Italian culture and traditions, a description of the city, as well as information about the universities and its facilities.
After the earthquake that hit the city and province of L'Aquila on April 9th 2009, ESN Italy started a fund raising for ESN L'Aquila. A bank account was opened to collect donations and show support to the section, whose office was destroyed by the earthquake. Many donations were made by ESN sections from all over Europe too. ESN Italy also helped ESN L'Aquila in the production of merchandising that would facilitate fund raising.
In October 2009, ESN Italy organized the "Incontro Nazionale Giovanile" (National Youth Meeting), where the main topics were the recognition of non-formal education and its value as a means to find new job opportunities. During the afternoon workshops, the topics discussed were the job opportunities within the European Institutions and the potential of the Youth in Action programme. The seminar was in fact organized as part of Action 5.1 of the Youth in Action Programme.
ICE 2009 (Incontro Culturale Erasmus) was held in Rome on the 14-16 November 2009. This edition registered the participation of almost 2000 Erasmus students from 25 sections from all over Italy. During the event a conference regarding the PRIME (Problems of Recognition In Making Erasmus), an ESN International project, has been set up and has seen the participation of representatives of the European Commission, of the LLP agency and of Rome's University La Sapienza. Several guided tours have been organized in order to allow the several group of students to visit the most important monuments of the Italian capital.
Moreover two other local PRIME conferences have been organized in 2009, one in Parma and one in Padova
Padua also makes ESN Italy step into ESN International's world again, with the organization of the SWEP, which takes place in Italy for the second time after its first time in Milan in 2008. Padua's SWEP opens a new era of international events for our Network. The year 2010 is also an important year because for the first time ESN Italy topped the 40 sections, and the Network grows more and more. The year finishes with a flourish thanks to ESN Milano Statale which organizes for the first time in Italy the Council of National Delegates (CND), the second most important event for the ESN International Network.
In 2009 it's Parma's turn which, for its 20th year, organizes an Alumni Meeting in September which saw the participation of around 50 ESNers from all over Europe. And in December it's he turn of Siena, oldest section of the network, which hosted the CND.
The biennium 2011-2012 is very prolific for what regards the birth of new sections. Between Palermo's NP (July 2011) and Foggia's one (July 2012), in fact, 8 new sections joined the network: Venezia, Bergamo, Chieti-Pescara, Trieste, Salerno, Ferrara, Salento (Lecce), in addition to Milano Cattolica which is born again with the name Milano UniCatt. What started as an organization of 7 sisters has now become a network of 49 amazing realities.
2013 is an year to remember for what concearns international events. It begins in March with the Alumni Medley, organized by the Alumni of ESN Italy in collaboration with ESN Poland which takes place in Krakow. In autumn the focus is on Catania, which hosts the last Cultural Medley of ESN International. October is the month that sees the Council of National Representatives (CNR) stopping in Florence. This too is the first time in several years. So the amazing frame of the Michelangelo's David and of the monuments of Tuscany's chief town host the representatives of 36 nations of the International Network, representing almost 500 universities. ESN grows also outside of our borders. From the 25 to the 27 October, Parma hosts the SWEP. It's an event that sees around 130 members representing the 5 countries belonging to the south-west area and that reaches everyone's liking, so much that it reached the second position in the "Event of the Year 2013" ranking, exceeded only by the CNR in Sofia (Bulgaria).
The fifth international event is the cherry on the cake and takes place in 2011. After 11 years, the Annual General Meeting comes back to Italy. Milan wins it, during the previous AGM in Maribor. Therefore the Milanese April dresses up as Europe by celebrating it with a hug to the Duomo of the 700 participants and the speech of Stefania Giannini, Secretary for Education, University and Research, during the opening ceremony.
In 2014 there is another first time. ESN Trento, after hosting the Summer Camp for 2 years, opens up to ESN International hosting the autumn edition of Eduk8, a very effective educational event which invited many young ESNers to the Dolomites in September.
In November of that same year, ESN Italy entered the Parliament. It did so with the ICE, whose opening conference was held in the Aldo Moro room the Montecitorio palace. The theme was Europe, but the conference was also the ideal moment to speak about #GenerazioneSenzaVoto, a project born in 2013 which was based on the possibility to give the right to vote to students in mobility and which succeded with the approval of the Italicum, a new electoral law passed by the Renzi government.
It's a big step forward for the whole Network, which confirmed its position as a valid institutional partner during this 2015 too, also through its presence at Expo Milan 2015.