Blog Post – ESN KISA
From 21-23 October, ESN KISA hosted a national platform for the first time in the association’s history. Representatives from all ESN Finland sections, as well as the national board, national project coordinators, guests, and international participants, were all in attendance. As usual, the meeting consisted of presentations, workshops, voting, and more related to ESN projects, rules and regulations, national board roles, etc. Many of the section representatives were attending their first national platform; the NP provided an introduction to the principles of ESN, the roles of the national board and national coordinators, and other information useful for first-time participants (and others). The meeting was useful as an exchange of information and knowledge transfer between both sections and national-level participants.
Transitioning to a more personal and section-specific perspective, it was enlightening to participate in an NP not just as a section representative, but also as the organization committee. ESN KISA had never previously hosted any national event; the closest thing would likely be the section cooperation weekends hosted by ESN KISA and ESN Joensuu on alternating years (these consist of many fewer participants; between five and ten students attend from the visiting section). I and the other OC members were all brand-new to organizing this sort of event. As the head of the OC, I will be the first to say that our meetings and planning were definitely a bit haphazard at first. Our planning notes would read something like this:
Give the city an outline of all of our plenaries and cool stuffs
ANU HELP US PLZ”
(These are actual notes from one of our first OC meetings.) Clearly, we were inexperienced and unsure of how to go about organizing this level of national event. In hindsight, I was vastly unqualified to be the head of OC (and definitely unqualified to be the note-taker). However, as those who attended the NP last month could likely attest, the meeting somehow, miraculously, came together and seemed to be a success based on the feedback received.
Actually, I’ll rescind that choice of words – it was not a miracle that everything was resolved and successful; this was a direct result of the dedication, diligence, and selflessness of our many volunteers before and during the weekend. I have never before seen such instantaneous and genuine, whole-hearted commitment to a volunteer event. When asking for help during our board and active member meetings, everyone, board and actives alike, was eager to help in whatever way they could. In the time leading up to the NP, volunteers were shopping for 17,000 loaves of bread, contacting potential sponsors from across Finland, driving all over Kuopio to get all of the welcome bag materials, and more. This was just the tip of the iceberg; during the weekend itself, while most of us were sitting in plenaries and workshops, the volunteers were ceaselessly cooking, cleaning, and guarding everyone’s belongings. Perhaps what I am the most impressed by is that five crucial members of the OC (myself, Outi Nikunen, Grace Marshall, Miia Vaara, and Toni Tamminen) were all official participants of the NP and thus were unavailable to help for most of the work during the actual weekend, and yet the remaining volunteers executed flawless displays of food, well-organized coffee breaks, and perfectly coordinated everything else.
Serving as the head of the OC for NP Kuopio provided me personally with experience in organizing a national event, dividing tasks amongst volunteers, and plenty of other valuable skills… but what I would say is perhaps the most important thing I learned is the true significance of volunteers. As everyone saw during the feedback session, I couldn’t hold back my tears while thanking them and the NP participants for such a fantastic weekend. My emotions were strong not just because of lack of sleep (although that definitely contributed), but because these volunteers so perfectly exemplified what it means to be an ESNer. We are students helping students, simply trying to create a more international, friendly, peaceful world.
I would like to end by thanking each and every one of the volunteers who assisted before and at NP Kuopio: Johanna Kerola, Joona Oksanen, Anu Kinnuen, Emmi Alho, Colette Nadvornik, Sanna Parkkinen, Tamara Gajšt, Simona Rajčániová, Laura Fi, Prativa Basnet, Tine Bizjak, Philipp Görbing, Anita Kirvesniemi, Joce Prin, Antti Rantakokko, Kingsley Kaycee, Grace Marshall, Outi Nikunen, Miia Vaara, and Toni Tamminen.
My wholehearted thanks go out again to these volunteers, to all of the NP Kuopio participants, and to all ESNers for making this organization what it is!
President, ESN KISA
Head of OC, NP Kuopio