On the weekend of October 13 - 16, the non-profit  international student organization Erasmus Student Network (ESN) organizes one of its biggest educational conferences in Oulu: the Northern European Platform (NEP). Conferences, isn’t that those professional and exciting gatherings we all have heard of, sometimes even taken part in? Usually it sounds like suits, speeches and sitting until your feet are numb. But not this one! This international student extravaganza brings together 110 young volunteers from 8 countries: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Denmark and Latvia. For four days they will get to know each other and educate themselves on organizational practices, leadership, marketing, conflict management and a range of other skills.

What is this ESN anyway? Glad you asked! Erasmus Student Network is a non-profit international student organisation consisting of over 500 local sections in 38 countries. The network headquarters and international board reside in Brussels, but ESN Oulu focuses on organizing free time activities for all international students in Oulu. The goal is to bring international students closer to the Finnish life and make their stay in Oulu as fun and memorable as possible. ESN Oulu operates under ESN Finland and ESN International and associates itself closely with student unions OYY and OSAKO.

ESN is all about networking, cultural exchange and growing together. To empower the network and support the volunteers’ individual learning, ESN organises different conferences and trainings all over Europe every year. As a regional conference NEP is the second largest of these events. Last year, ESN Oulu sent two representatives to NEP Bergen, this year others get to send their representative to NEP Oulu. The program includes workshops, plenaries and lectures where participants get to hear the latest news from the network: representatives from ESN International board and international committees will be present to share their knowledge and to train ESN actives.

The event is put together by the NEP Organizing Committee which consists of local student volunteers. They have been working hard all year and soon it will all reach the grand finale. The one holding the threads is Bianca Beyer, the Head of the Organizing Committee. For her this is also the grand finale of her ESN career.

“It was a new challenge for our section to take on such a huge event, but with our pool of really dedicated volunteers, we knew right from the start we can make it happen,” explains Beyer. “We are proud that our section is one of the most active ones in Finland when it comes to variety of events for international students, and we manage to balance well cultural events and merely fun entertainment. Hosting this conference might be the peak of our achievements, and it will be exciting to get all these volunteers to our small city far up North! For our active members, this is one of the greatest opportunities to practice their organizational skills in stemming such a big conference.”

ESN Northern European Platform 13.-16.10.2016 in Oulu University of Applied Sciences business campus. Partners are University of Oulu, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, City of Oulu, Sodexho catering, Cumulus hotels, Tivoli nightclub and Timetravels travel agency. More info in Facebook, www.nep2016.esnoulu.org or by contacting nep.oulu@esnoulu.org

Written by Kaisa Tervahauta, vp@esnoulu.org