Paris Conference, June 7th to June 9th 2013
The ESFI International Conference held in Paris in early June 2013 was the first formal reunion of its active members since the founding of the federation in September 2011. More than 40 members and delegates of the three active chapters – Germany, France and Québec – participated in many workshops and took part in the discussions of the International Council (IC) of the federation that outlined the priorities for 2013-2014 and elected the five members of the International Executive Committee (IEC). These are:
Two great priorities figure in the 2013-2014 agenda of ESFI
1. Revive dormant chapters (f. ex. Spain, Italy) or who are about to close down their activities (f. ex. France) and open up new chapters or local sections wherever possible (f. ex. USA and Canada).
2. Consolidate internal structures, namely by securing a bank account in a fair bank and drawing up an annual budget for current ESFI operations.
Most of the recommendations suggested by the past IEC members to the assembly had a communications component to them which related to internal or external communications that had to be reinforced, recruitment and member motivation to be improved and fundraising to be enhanced. The new IEC team has taken heed of these recommendations and will act upon them.
Two amendments to the ESFI Statute have been accepted by the voting members of the IC, one introducing the notion of «intergenerational» solidarity to account for the fact that ESF is made up of students mostly but also members of the civil society of all ages and trades; the other relating to the number of IEC meetings which must be held at least six (6) times a year and no less than once every 3 months.
Different presentations on strategic communications and planning, project evaluation, aspects of corruption in developing countries, fundraising, etc. have enlightened the work of the Conference. Open forums of discussion, and social activities have also been held which have been fully appreciated by the participants. The International Council (IC) meeting has been the occasion for the three active chapters to present their work and strategies to all and have very meaningful exchanges with other ESFI members.
The 10th Anniversary of the ESF movement – founded in 2003 in Paris – was highlighted by a reception held on the 6th of June at Reid Hall in the Rive Gauche-Quartier Latin district of Paris. An ex-student helped by the French chapter, Raissa from Chechnya, presented a vibrant testimony of what changed in her life after her studies in journalism in Paris, and English in the USA: She acquired essential professional and language skills and a lot of self-confidence, made contacts and friends and gained no less than a new start on life. She was extremely happy and grateful to be able to come back to Paris and share thoughts from her experience as a scholarship holder from 2006 to 2009, with ESF members. What motivated her to go back to Chechnya after her studies were new projects and new ideas and the possibility to try to change something in the living conditions of her people. She made a very strong impression on those who came to listen to her presentation.
The 2013 Paris Conference was a full success according to all the participants who vowed to renew the encounter at least once a year if financially possible. The organizing team worked very hard to find a youth hostel in Paris’ 18th «arrondissement» capable of receiving more than 40 people as a group and providing lecture and meeting rooms in sufficient numbers. They also devised a very stimulating agenda with the help of the IEC team. Most of the participants came from ESF-Germany, France and Québec. Former members of ESF Spain were also present. It was a first occasion for some ESF volunteers who for almost a decade communicated only through Skype and e-mails to meet in person, exchange and socialize, a get-together that was thoroughly enjoyed.
The Conference was made possible through a grant by the Youth in Action Program of the European Union.