Written by: 
Cristian Pașka

One Step Closer to Erasmus+

One Step Closer to Erasmus+ was a project implemented between September 2021 and February 2022 by Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Romania and co-funded by the Erasmus Students and Alumni Alliance (ESAA) through a non-reimbursable financing of 6380 €. The aim of the project was to promote Erasmus+ mobility programmes and the European Solidarity Corps among young people in rural and small urban areas.


How did we set out to do this?

We organized a training event attended by 43 young people (network volunteers and international students). Originally planned for November, the event was rescheduled, amid restrictions imposed by authorities to limit the spread of Coronavirus, for January. The organizing team and the trainers proved to be extremely adaptable, always finding solutions to the problems that arose, successfully coping with the challenges. Between January 20th and 23rd, at Ibis Bucharest Politehnica Hotel, the young people selected to participate in this event had the opportunity to learn more about the mobility programs, and in the next period they had to organize sessions in schools in rural and small urban areas, thus becoming ambassadors of the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes.

The intercultural dimension of the event created a space for dialogue, facilitating the creation of bondings between participants from 14 countries, from 3 continents. The event was attended by young volunteers from ESN Romania and ESN Bulgaria, as well as international students from Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt, Yemen, Ghana, Turkmenistan, Palestine, Turkey, Italy, France and Greece hosted by Romanian universities.

The event was also an inclusive one, both from the perspective of the activities carried out, as well as the chosen location, allowing the participation of  a member of ESN Romania with disabilities that require constant support and a permanent companion.


How did it all go?

On the first day of the event, the participants had various activities through which they could get to know each other better. The next day had as objectives: to develop the participants' knowledge of the mobilities, the way to finance them and the connection with the European Union institutions, the organization of Erasmus-in-School activities, but also the introduction in non-formal education

This event represented a good opportunity for ESN Romania and ANPCDEFP to collaborate, therefore, two representatives of the departments of the Institution for Higher Education (Erasmus+) and the European Solidarity Corps participated on the first day of the event, providing information on the two programmes of interest in an interactive manner. At the end of the day, the participants learned how to promote the two programmes through storytelling of personal mobility experiences.

On the third day of training, the participants were divided into smaller groups and invited to a session on Intercultural Dialogue. They were asked to analyze the methods and activities carried out within the workshops for a better understanding of the non-formal methodology of education.  What followed took the participants out of their comfort zone. Thus, for the next part of the day, but also for Sunday, they were grouped in teams of three people each and were instructed to prepare a 40-45-minute workshop that would include two themes: intercultural dialogue and international mobility programmes. In the end, they proved their skills acquired during the training, successfully coping with the challenge they received. Asked how they would describe the experience of the  event in one word, they mentioned: "friendly", "educational", "fun", "wonderful", "well organized", "inspirational", " connection", "intercultural" etc.

Once back home, the 43 young people got to work and organized 14 sessions to promote mobility in schools in rural and small urban areas. A total of 535 students were motivated by personal stories to participate in a mobility, regardless of its type.

Written by: 
Cristian Pașka

Changing the future of Europe one idea at a time

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the lives of young people. From social life to education, the current crisis has affected the way young people live their lives. It is undoubtedly that the rapid changes the society has been through, all the insecurities and fears young people face, they have damaged their mental and physical health and well-being, but also their plans and hopes for the future.

To make their voices heard, young people must act together and share their vision about the future with decision makers. The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFE) represents a great moment for our generation to share its ideas about the Europe of tomorrow.

CoFE is a consultative mechanism through which EU citizens are invited to debate on the challenges and priorities of the European Union. It has multiple components, such as: a digital platform, decentralised events, panels and plenaries through which one could share their ideas and how they envision our future together. The topics citizens are consulted on include:

  • Climate change and the environment,
  • Digital transformation,
  • European democracy,
  • Economy, social justice and jobs
  • EU in the world,
  • Health,
  • Migration,
  • Values and rights, rule of law, security.

In September, during ESN Romania’s Autumn National Assembly in Craiova, members of the Erasmus Generation from our network, but also international guests were consulted by the Europe Direct Center Oltenia Sud on the future of Europe. They shared ideas on various topics which include: investments in smart technologies for recycling and waste management, supporting education for a greener future, raising awareness and protecting the rights of minorities and generating solutions to fight discrimination and racism, supporting social equity and developing taxation policies for the multinational companies within the union, having a minimum wage in all members states, supporting mobility of young people, financing the digitalisation and modernisation of member states and increasing access to services through online platforms, encouraging active and democratic participation, support the legal and social integration of immigrants and refugees, etc.

You can read more about the Conference on the Future of Europe and how you can get involved here. Share your ideas here or attend an event near you by spring 2022, the Conference is expected to reach conclusions and provide guidance to the EU Institutions on the future of Europe.

Written by: 
Diana Rotescu

Soft Skills: What are they and which were the most in-demand in 2020?

Skills, expertise, or talent are needed in order to do a job or complete a task. As varied as there are humans walking the earth, they can make the difference when searching for finding employment or solving problems around the house. Some might even help you relax once you turn them into a hobby.

Although each skill needs to receive recognition, especially on the 15th of July, the International Youth Skill Day, let’s turn our focus to a category that is equally beneficial in your professional life and your personal life. Enter soft skills.

Everyone who has applied for a job before has heard about soft skills at least once. Nowadays just being competent at your job and having previous work experience, seems to not be enough anymore. Employers are more and more looking beyond the simple hard skills of candidates before deciding if they are worth hiring. Often, other abilities might make the difference, especially if two candidates seem to be equally fitting for the job. But before we get more into that, let’s see what soft skills are.


What are hard and soft skills??

LinkedIn defines Hard skills as “an employee’s ability to do a specific task”. They include specialized knowledge and technical abilities and are often easier to define and measure than soft skills.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are more related to how a person is executing their task and are sometimes hard to measure. According to LinkedIn “Soft skills are more about behavior and thinking, personal traits and cognitive skills.”

So, how can your way of thinking affect your chances of being hired? It’s simple. Every role requires some interaction with others, whether they are your superiors, your colleagues, or customers. Knowing how to speak, when to speak, and how to choose your words for example can build or break the relationship you have with them. Building relationships and working well in teams is not only going to make your life as an employee easier, but it can also be a key factor in getting recognized.

So, you might think “Is working in a team the only extra skill I require? That is piece of cake!” Well… no. There is a multitude of soft skills which are not only sought after by employers but can even be a hiring criterion for certain positions. Each workplace is unique and each job opportunity comes with its set of challenges, but let’s take a closer look at the most in-demand soft skills of 2020.


What were the most sought-after soft skills in 2020??

The mix of skills most prized by the business world is ever-changing and can be confusing especially for young adults who recently graduated. Therefore, understanding what is in demand early on, can give you the edge you have been hoping for. It is hard to pinpoint the skills one must hone in order to get their dream job, however, let’s look at the 2020 trend on LinkedIn.

1.  Creativity  

Creativity isn’t necessarily reserved for artists; it means being resourceful and innovative in finding solutions to problems at work. Thinking “outside the box” and offering a new, unique perspective in solving problems and difficulties is what drives a business forward.

2. Persuasion   

Persuasion is the process of convincing someone else to carry out an action or agree with an idea. This skill is especially useful for employees who lead teams, as it might help them keep their colleagues motivated and influence them to perform well.

3. Collaboration  

Good teamwork involves a combination of other soft skills; however, it is essential in almost all existing jobs. Good team players are perceptive, as well as receptive to the needs and responsibilities of others. Working in a team towards a common goal requires the intuition to know when to be a leader and when to be a listener.

4. Adaptability

Don't underestimate the ability to adapt to changes. The world is constantly evolving and introducing new technologies. Those who cannot adapt might be left behind. Companies welcome employees who can keep up with all their upgrades.

5. Emotional Intelligence   

According to the LinkedIn article “In looking for soft skills, companies are focusing on candidates with emotional intelligence.” Emotional intelligence, as defined by author and science journalist Daniel Goleman, is “the ability to identify, assess and control one's own emotions, the emotion of others and that of groups.” Being able to empathize with your colleagues and act in a compassionate way towards them can greatly boost your relationship and lead to better teamwork.

Even though the above soft skills made it into the top 5, they are not the only ones you should be paying attention to. Of course, there are other valued soft skills like example time management, punctuality, or accountability as they are indicators of how responsible a person is. So, in the end, no acquired soft skill is less valuable than the other, but the trend in 2020 might give you an idea of what to try to improve if you are looking for a job in 2021.

Written by: 
Dora David

Education Training 2019

During 2 rainy days, 23rd and 24th of November 2019, 18 Romanian volunteers gathered in Bucharest to learn about Education. For us, education means international environment, mobility opportunities, the past, present and future of Erasmus+ programme and how we can leave our mark and make a change in young people’s lives.

Thinking about Education Training, there was this quote that kept popping into my mind. A long time ago, Aristotle said that ”Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” This is exactly what we did during those days: we educated our minds, learned a lot and tried a different approach to our daily activity in the middle of amazing people who warmed our hearts.

Dora David - organiser; Education Officer ESN Romania, co-founder garagErasmus4Bucharest

The training was a mix of workshops, presentations and discussions, all building around the same core topic, the international dimension of higher education and our role in this field. From understanding the facts to learning how to implement this knowledge, we had two full days. Luckily, we didn’t feel the rain and cold, thanks to the beautiful Lucrativ house that hosted us and it felt like home.

As an ESN alumna, I have the drive to motivate people to learn more and to equip them with suitable skills for the real world out there. I knew since I accepted the invitation to join the event as a trainer that it is going to be a weekend to remember. But I cannot really put into words how it felt to have the opportunity to work alongside a dear friend, Dora, as organizer and facilitator, and smart curious volunteers as participants. Everything lasted only two days, but it was enough to bring back sweet memories from my #ESNlife. I hope everyone will get the chance, at some point during their volunteering years, to attend a training focused on education and personal growth.

Miruna Iliescu - trainer, co-founder garagErasmus4Bucharest

We started the first day with a simple and short introduction: EU and Erasmus+ as an EU programme. Naturally, the next topic on the agenda had to be introduced by an expert. Nicoleta Popa, our guest representing the National Agency in Romania guided us through the land of Erasmus+ mobility opportunities for students and far beyond.

The day continued with the presentations of some of our closest stakeholders, IRO representatives of three Universities from Bucharest. Izabela Ungureanu (Titu Maiorescu University), Andreea Militaru (University Politehnica of Bucharest) and Cosmina Anghel (National University of Arts in Bucharest) also joined us during an open discussion about the collaboration ESN has with Higher Education Institutions.

Because, as ESN volunteers, one of our main characteristics is our love for the international environment, we also invited Raluca Solea (DAAD Romania) to tell us more about several other mobility opportunities.

At the end of the first day, we already started to focus on our soft skills and we kept doing that during the second day as well. Miruna Iliescu, our guest trainer from garagErasmus4Bucharest, told us the secrets of Communication and, later on, showed us the wonders of External Representation & Advocacy, while Dora David (ESN Romania and garagErasmus4Bucharest) tried to take us out of our comfort zone, facilitating a workshop on Public Speaking.

The second day of the training also brought us back to our organisation and Alex Pieptea (ESN Romania) started the discussion about the Causes of ESN and its advocacy efforts. We ended the day learning about how to approach our stakeholders and, finally, how all the knowledge gained can be used.

The Education Training was an amazing opportunity for all the participants to learn more about some of the Causes of ESN and to strengthen the relationship between ESN, IROs and the National Agency. For a first-time edition, it was a complete success, gathering participants from eight Romanian ESN sections. Participants were actively engaged throughout the event and most of them followed up, being involved in education-related activities in their local sections and even at the national level. Considering the feedback, I know the second edition will surpass this one, not only in participants’ numbers but also topics covered.

Alex Pieptea - trainer; President ESN Romania 

With sugar, spice and everything nice, we left home with dreams, ideas, motivation and maybe some new questions.