Friday, January 23rd
When last Friday I was about to leave for Dublin, I really didn’t know what to expect from my first trip as a European Expo Ambassador. I was both eager to dive in this exciting experience and, of course, a little bit scared since everything was kind of new to me. In fact, even if I’ve been an active member of ESN Milano-Bicocca since last October, I’ve never had the opportunity to take part in a National Platform before, so I was very interested in participating in the plenary of ESN Ireland. Anyway, as I always do whenever I find myself in an unfamiliar situation, I just threw myself into it and got ready to take off from Milano Linate airport with my friend and Ambassador Hugo Audibert.
As soon as we landed at Dublin, Hugo and I noticed that the weather wasn’t that bad (you all know what people say about the Irish weather), it was even better than it was in Milan, actually! Feeling kind of lucky, we went strolling around the city. It didn’t last that long, though: while we were wandering about the yard of the Trinity College, it started pouring! But Dublin must have had a soft spot for us or something, since it stopped raining after fifteen minutes (we got soaking wet anyway). Later that afternoon we met Conor O’Callaghan, the PR and Education Officer of ESN Ireland, who warmly welcomed us and told us a little bit about the challenges that ESN Ireland faced and the achievements it attained over the last year. After that, we all went to the pub crawl around Temple Bar organized by ESN Dublin. It was really a great night, not only because I had the chance to go to the places where “real” Dubliners usually go at weekends, but also because I met new people and especially Marine, a French girl from ESN Clermont-Ferrand who’d just completed her Erasmus in Cork and was now doing an internship in ESN Ireland. Marine and I had a very nice chat about what being an Erasmus student and an ESNer means to us. It was “grand” (like Irish people say) to experience again the cultural diversity I encountered while I did my Erasmus in London last year, and, at the same time, to realize once more that wherever you go, you’ll meet someone who shares the same values as yours.
Saturday, January 24th
The day of the presentation on Expo had come, finally! After getting at University College Dublin Campus, Hugo and I attended the plenary of NP Dublin, waiting for our turn to present. All the sections of ESN Ireland were there, and there were also two guys coming from Italy: Claudio Baldi, the founder of ESN-ESAN Ancona, who, after doing his Erasmus in the Emerald Isle, fell in love with it, and Eleonora Piermartiri, another member of ESN-ESAN Ancona. It was really nice to meet them there and to have the chance to talk a little bit about our network back home.
The agenda of the meeting was pretty tight and covered many topics: National Board’s updates, Marine’s and sections’ reports, candidacies of a new section and of the secretary, a series of workshops held by Education First’s representatives and, finally, our presentation. I was very positively impressed by how neatly and efficiently the plenary was being held and looked forward to contributing to it. So, here we go! I felt pretty confident about what I had to say as Hugo and I’d rehearsed a few times before, I just wanted to make it as more interactive and attractive as possible. We started by talking about what Expo is and what role the European Commission plays in it, then we illustrated all the different opportunities available to international young people interested in getting involved in the Universal Exposition. On the whole, our speech ran smoothly and, at the end of it, we received a lot of positive feedbacks and were asked many questions. The guys of ESN Ireland showed a particular interest in the topic and were genuinely enthusiast about it. Besides, Kenny Ho, the President of ESN Ireland, gave us great support by mentioning the fact that the Expo in Milan is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity since next time it will be held in Dubai, which isn’t, of course, as easily reachable as the Italian fashion capital is. When the plenary was over, we all went to Hannah’s place, a girl from ESN Dublin, who cooked us an extremely delicious chicken curry and an even tastier dal (yeah, I do have a thing for Indian food and especially for hers!). It was so nice to have all that food for dinner after a pretty long and intense day, so thank you again Hannah; it was so kind of you!
During the meal, other guys came to me and asked for more information about how to apply to become a volunteer at the EU pavilion at Expo and we exchanged our Facebook contacts in order to be able to keep in touch. They also taught me a little bit of Irish vocabulary, such as “fáilte”(welcome) and “sláinte” (cheers), I guess these are the most important words one should know when going to Ireland ;)
Sunday, January 25th
Since our mission in Dublin was completed, as we’d spread our knowledge of Expo among the guys of ESN Ireland, Hugo and I decided to enjoy our time left in Dublin by visiting it highways and byways. At night, we caught up with Kenny and went for dinner in a traditional Irish pub where we had delicious local food. I was very impressed by his mindset, especially with regard to his way of seeing challenges and obstacles in life, which can be summarized like this: “Whatever happens, don’t worry too much about it, something else will happen and you’ll find a way to pull it off.” That was a real lesson of leadership, Kenny, thank you! After dinner, we went to Kenny’s place because, since our hostel had already been booked for that night, he invited us to sleep at his house. Well, that’s just the ESN spirit: “Students helping students”!
Monday, January 26th
Time to take our flight to go back to Milan! Feeling a little bit sad but also very grateful for the great experience we had had, Hugo and I got on the bus that took us to the airport where we eventually had to say goodbye to the capital of Ireland. My first trip as a European Expo Ambassador was just over and, even if I’d stayed in Dublin for just three days, it seemed to me a much longer time, a time full of great encounters and cultural exchanges. I was delighted to meet so many proactive young people and to see how they all enthusiastically work together in order to help other international students. I just want to thank them all again for hosting us in such a warm and friendly way and for making us feel at home. I really hope to see you guys again in Milan for the Expo!
And now… I’m just looking forward for my next destination!
- Aurora Cominetti #Students4Expo Ambassador -