ESN HSE Moscow has given international students at HSE a chance to make a legacy of caring that will stay in Russia even after they leave. SocialErasmus Week (SEW) took place on November 7-13, and with a wide range of 7 different charitable events, everyone had the opportunity choose their own way to make a contribution.
Despite being part of Erasmus Student Network for less than a year, ESN HSE Moscow is very active and organizes a lot of trips, cultural, and social events for international students. SEW is the biggest event with a social and civic dimension. Its aim is to involve both local and international students in volunteering and promote the idea of social change. ESN sections across Europe take part in SEW, and this November our HSE section joined them for the first time to make a difference together!
Around 25 ESN active members and 100 international students were involved in SEW at HSE. The varied SEW programme included: international tea get-together in a senior citizens’ home featuring 20 former theatre workers; a bake sale in HSE international dorms (in partnership with HSE Outreach); Dog Dating in an animal shelter; Ecology Day in Dormitory 5 (in partnership with Green HSE); blood donation; a ‘How to make a Russian doll’ workshop, and a visit to a state care facility for children featuring an entertainment programme for over 30 children (in partnership with Open Your Eyes).
‘I believe that all SEW participants – organizers, partners, local and international students, as well as the people we helped – really enjoyed this event. We definitely managed to pay attention to those who need it – the elderly, children in state care, and even dogs! We also gave students a chance to feel like heroes and showed that volunteering can give you much more than it takes: positive emotions, new acquaintances, and unforgettable experiences.
This was our first SEW, we got off to a good start (7 events no less!). I think partnerships were key to our success. I would like to thank HSE Outreach, Green HSE and Open Your Eyes for sharing their resources and experience with us.’
‘It's so much fun to see the world from a different perspective and not to be surrounded by like-minded people all the time. The children in state care were so happy about little things. And that is amazing. Also, the atmosphere was always so positive – both in the senior citizens’ home and at the facility for children in state care. At university you can easily get just stuck in stress and constant worries about grades and deadlines. So it’s nice to step away sometimes.’
‘The Russian doll workshop was very interesting. It was fun to learn more about Russia’s traditions and legends. For example, you are not allowed to use scissors to make the doll. It was nice to be able to make something to bring to the kids. The visit to see the kids in state care was amazing. It was a little bit daunting before, but once I was there it was so easy and great. The kids were so happy to interact with us and just to talk to us, I realized there was nothing to be afraid of.
Also from the point of view of cultural immersion, it was very interesting to see and experience real Russia, and not just the beautiful Red Square, Kremlin, and typical tourist destinations. For me the experience was even more interesting, rewarding, and beautiful than anything in Moscow. I look forward to the next month’s trip to see the children in care and I hope to see more students join us!’
HSE’s first SocialErasmus Week was an unforgettable experience for everyone involved! ‘SEW is organized every semester, and we will definitely take part in it again in spring‘, Anastasia Andreeva, SocialErasmus coordinator, reveals some of her future plans. ‘But before the next SEW we will continue to involve international students in other charitable events'.
We should always remember that even small, seemingly insignificant things can often make our world a little bit kinder and better. So let's do it together!
Authors: Anastasia Sazonova, Fedor Shchipitsyn