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A board year is the best thing you can do, even during a pandemic!

Written by David Kraandijk, President of ESN Groningen 2020/2021

Around a year ago, I applied for the Board of ESN Groningen. The Covid-19 pandemic had just started to become significant, as the Netherlands found itself in the first lockdown. When I applied, I expected the whole Covid-19 situation to end after summer and I hoped for a “normal” board year. However, as we all know, this year turned out to be completely different than expected, as we are still struggling to get this virus under control. Nevertheless, having to manage the biggest international student organisation in Groningen together with my fellow board members has given me a different perspective on certain things, and despite the fact that we have not hosted any Kokomo party this year, I definitely do not regret applying for the board. In this blog, I will elaborate on what made my year so special and why I do not regret applying at all!

Add value to student life in Groningen

First of all, because of the Covid-19 situation, more and more students experience a declining mental health and they feel lonely. As a result, this year, we had to focus more on countering these problems. We established new initiatives and programmes to support students and enable them to still meet other people and connect with each other. Because we are so pro-active in this area, I feel like we really add value to the student life in Groningen, now more than ever. Examples here are the Christmas groups programme and the Buddy-to-Buddy programme, all new initiatives focussing on connecting students to each other. Furthermore, despite all the challenges that we faced in the organisation of the ESN Week, we still managed to organise this week and give students a great start of their semester. The feedback that we received from participants that joined the programmes or the ESN Week has been very positive and they expressed their appreciation for our work during this pandemic. This makes me very proud of what we already have accomplished so far!

Build a great professional network
During my board year, I have been in contact with a lot of different people. This ranges from people my age that are part of a board of another student organisation to influential people within the University of Groningen, Hanze University of Applied Sciences and the Municipality. Furthermore, because of the international network that ESN has, I have met a lot of people from all over the Netherlands and even beyond the border. Of course it is very fun to meet all those similar minded people, but this big international network could also really benefit my future career.

I learned a lot!
One of the best things about doing a board year at ESN is that I really developed myself personally and professionally, even more than I did during my studies. Among other things, I learned how to manage and run an organisation, how to represent the international students in Groningen, how to take responsibility and negotiate with important parties, and how to do speeches. I became more confident in the professional side of myself, which I am very proud of, and I am absolutely certain that I will be able to use all the skills acquired during this board year in my future job.

Made friendships for a lifetime
Lastly, and maybe even most importantly, I have become close friends with my fellow board members. Because of the time we spent together working on the same goals, we really got to know each other. It does not feel like we are just a board, it feels like we are a group of friends who have already known each other for a long time. We all experience the same things, which brought us very close together. These friendships made my board year amazing, and I am sure they will last a lifetime.

Are you interested in becoming part of the board of ESN Groningen? The applications are currently opened, click here for more information! The deadline for applying is April 7th, 2021.