ESN HSE Moscow has given HSE international students 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. With a wide range of 7 different charitable events, everyone could choose their own way to contribute to society.
Despite being part of Erasmus Student Network for less than a year, ESN HSE Moscow is a very active section that organizes a lot of trips, cultural and social events for international students. SEW is the biggest one 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 in general. ESN sections all around 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 an old people’s home with 20 former theatre workers; Bake sale in HSE international dorms (in partnership with HSE Outreach. Collected money were spent on audio equipment for visually challenged children orphanage in Gavrilov Yam and on holding matinee and other fests in the orphanage); Dog Dating in an animal shelter; Ecology Day in Dorm 5 (in partnership with Green HSE); blood donation; ‘How to make a Russian doll’ workshop, and an orphanage visit with an entertainment programme for over 30 children (in partnership with Open Your Eyes).
There’s no better way to get a glimpse of the event than to get comments from its organizers and participants, and that’s exactly what we did.
Anastasia Andreeva, 4th year, Sociology
«I believe that all the SEW participants – organizers, partners, local and international students, people whom we helped – greatly enjoyed this event. We definitely managed to pay attention to those who need it – old people, orphans, even dogs! We also gave students a chance to feel like true heroes and showed that volunteering can give you much more than it takes: positive emotions, new acquaintances, and unforgettable experiences.
It’s been our first SEW, and we took a quick start (7 events - it's not easy!). 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».
Anna Rennwald, Germany, Sociology
«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 from the orphanage were so happy about little things. And that is amazing. Also, the atmosphere was always so positive – both in the old people's home and the orphanage. 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».
Marcello Vitanza, USA, Languages and linguistics (Russian language)
«The Russian doll workshop was very interesting. It was fun to learn the traditions and legends of Russia. For example, you can't use scissors while making the doll. It was nice to be able to make something to bring to the kids. The orphanage visit was amazing as well. It was a little bit scary 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 a immersion of culture standpoint, it's very interesting to see and experience the real Russia, and not just the beautiful Red Square, Kremlin, and tourist destinations. For me the experience was more interesting, rewarding, and beautiful than anything in Moscow. I look forward to the next month excursion to the orphanage and I hope to see more students there!»
To sum up, the first SocialErasmus Week in Higher School of Economics has been an unforgettable experience for everyone involved! ‘SEW is organized every semester, and we, as a section, will definitely take part in it in spring again’, Anastasia Andreeva, SocialErasmus coordinator, reveals some of her future plans. ‘But until the next SEW we will keep involving international students into 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